I LOVE the last answer “Write purdy”
First session of the conference in beautiful Myrtle Beach and I am all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ready to get my learn on and absorb some knowledge from the lovely and very sassy Michelle Richter. Her session was titled “Writing a Good Query” and I needed to work on my query letter so it seemed like an easy yes for me.
First a few Do’s and Don’t’s I learned from Mrs. Richter:
1. Proofread over and over
You want to put forth the Best possible product you can.
2. Don’t rely on spellcheck.
She is a fickle mistress indeed. There, Their, & They’re. Nuff’ said.
3. Use a Query Tracking spreadsheet.
You can make your own on Excel or there are some excellent ones online like Query Tracker.
1. Be overly familiar
The more professional you sound the better chance they’ll take you seriously.
2. Don’t misspell the name of the agent or agency.
3. Double check the agent/agency’s website that they are interested in your genre and age group.
Interviews may be outdated but the websites are kept pretty darn current.
4. Don’t re-query
Unless they ask you to of course.
5. Don’t mislead
We’ve all heard of people padding their resume. Now is not the time to do that…
Overall I learned a ton from Michelle. She did not represent my genre but her knowledge and expertise made they session a great pick for me. I found her frank and refreshing. So much of what we hear is padded in the cloak of niceness and platitudes that it was very enjoyable to get some straight forward answers.
Now on to the mean girls and I use the term “girls” loosely. There was a young man in the session that had a lot of questions. Where they beginner questions? Yes. Where they the type of thing you could figure out with Google? Yes. Did the questions seem to ramble on and on for an eternity? God Yes. Did this young man deserve to get made fun of by a group of three grown ass women? A definite NO.
We all started somewhere and while I may have let out a heavy sigh, I commend anyone willing to put themselves out there and try to learn something new. This is just my opinion, but then again so is this entire blog, but poking fun at/about someone with a comment isn’t a big deal. I am the queen of smack talking, but there is never any malicious intent and it’s always said in a light-hearted manner. I DO NOT verbally eviscerate anyone. I do not make them the butt of my jokes, loudly, over and over, while looking around trying to get everyone else to join in and agree with me. That is something someone does when they themselves are very small.
Needless to say, despite numerous attempts to engage with me over the course of the weekend, I avoided that group of clucking hens like my life (or just my soul) depended on it.
Time to shake off that negativity and move on. My next session was with David Coe about Character Development and POV so stay tuned for my next blog post.
Friday morning, the bagels were cold and the fruit was warm but we had all come together with one purpose in mind, Writing.
I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do. Walking into the breakfast arena, or area but I personally like arena better, I realized that I was a tad over dressed. Not really over dressed, but enough that I felt I stood out. Which isn’t always a bad thing. The main thing is that everyone was very friendly, and I loved all my new clothes I had bought just for this weekend so as long I liked the way I looked and was comfortable I was good to go.
Finding a table to eat at was very similar to your first day at High School. You’re an insecure Freshman all over again. But I just randomly chose a table where it wasn’t too full and it looked like the ladies where already having a discussion. And I totally lucked out, I was sitting with two other attendees and the owner of a small publishing company. Here is where conference etiquette (also known as common sense) comes to play.
What I DID NOT DO was start into a million question about, oh what do you publish, you’d love my novel, it’s about blah, blah, blah. It’s bagels and small talk people, not a pitch session.
What I DID DO was join in the conversation they were already having. I told a few funny stories, and got to know her as a Person, not a Publisher. She is also a writer herself, so it was fun to talk about how dreadful it is when your characters don’t listen to you.
That is when I met the ever interesting Aurelia Sands of Deer Hawk Publications.
The main point of this post is
1- You have to put yourself out there. I would even suggest going solo and not with a friend so you Have to speak to others more often and not cling to the one person you know.
2-Publishers are people. Obvious but it still needs to be said. While they are there to find great writers (duh) if you don’t respect their boundaries they will talk about you behind your back. (It happens)
3-If you make a friend or even an acquaintance then you will feel more comfortable walking up and speaking to them during the sessions and the rest of the conference. Believe me, they will ask “So what do you write?'” or “What’s your book about?” They WANT to know, they WANT to find you so there is no need to cram your masterpiece down their throats.
Bottom Line: Manners are free people, go get you some.
So I have decided that instead of going through a few highlights, and ranting about how awesome the conference was, I’m going to break it down into segments to really show everyone what the Conference experience is like for a newbie (such as myself).
I arrived at the Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach late Thursday evening (my husband was installing a tankless water heater and the time got away from him) so I checked in later than I had planned. I got all settled into my room (which was lovely despite the view of the parking lot) and made sure to hang up all my new “grown up” clothes. I was hungry and tempted to just have something sent up to my room, but I was here to meet people so down to the bar I went. Unfortunately there weren’t any writer types in the bar area but I did strike up a conversation with some nice folks who were there for a 911 conference. So I got a yummy quesadilla, a stiff Makers Mark and Ginger Ale, and some pretty cool 911 stories. Not too shabby an evening.
My point of even getting into this whole thing, is that you never know who you’re going to meet. I was tired, I wanted to work on my novel and crash (God knows peace and quiet is a hot commodity in my house) but I told myself that’s not why I”m here. If I wanted to run out to a hotel and write in solitude, it would have to be another weekend, because this weekend was for learning as much as humanly possible, and meeting as many new peers as possible. Granted, I didn’t meet anyone from “my” conference that night but I did meet some interesting people. I was even able to join in a conversation at breakfast the following morning because I knew who the other conference was for and tell them about my night. Instant conversation, throw in a few jokes, and they’ll be eating out of your hand. Not literally, that would be gross, even if it was just bagels.
But my loyal readers is a story for tomorrow. So just to recap:
1. Hang up your damn clothes, you’re an adult for Christ’s sake.
2. Step out of your comfort zone (that’s a recurring thing over the weekend)
3. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation that’s already happening (politely of course)
Tomorrow I’ll talk about having breakfast with a publisher, that days sessions, expectations vs. reality and proper footwear.
Good night and fare the well.
Okay, so I finally made it to my hotel late last night and after a quick trip to the bar to settle my nerves I got a good nights sleep. I cannot tell everyone how excited I am to be attending an actual conference after the past few years of attempts to go and having things fall through.
I have already hung out with a lovely publisher at breakfast, and attending my first class. I think I’ve succeeded in the Business Causal outfit, and I have all my business cards ready to hand out at the first request. I am currently between sessions and just wanted to give a quick update.
Everyone here has be super nice and welcoming. I will say that it is mostly “mature” people but I’m not judging. I’ll talk to anyone who will listen. I have realized the toughest part is choosing which session you will attend and which ones you’ll have to skip. Ugh! I want to go to them all.
I’ll post more tonight with actual helpful info. But here’s my outfit to tide you over till then.
I’m not going to act like some kind of fashion expert, half the time my pajamas double as my regular clothes (thank you yoga pants by the way), but I can do research and let other people who seem to know what they’re talking about tell me what to wear. And then share that with all you kind folks. Also, I may have never “actually” been to a conference, but I know people who have and I’ve grilled them and this is the low down that I’ve gleaned from the internet and those interviews.
BUSINESS CASUAL is the way to go. “But Cayce, what in the name of all that is holy IS business casual?” you may ask. Why thank you for asking. It’s what you would wear to a regular day at the office. Not high-powered attorney’s office, and not secretary at a lumber mill, but somewhere in between. What you may wear if you worked, say in an office that handles corporate billing. Think slacks, blouses and close toed shoes.
WEAR LAYERS is something else that I have been told. The temperature varies room to room at these conferences and you don’t want pit stains or chattering teeth. So go with a light blouse or tank top, paired with a cardigan or sweater. I like to add an accent scarf, and then if I get chilly I just wrap it around my shoulders. It looks pretty cool as well.
DON’T FORGET THE SHOES Those super high heels may be rockin’ it at the club but they are not doing you any favors at a conference. Feel free to have fun with your foot wear but be practical, comfortable, and polished. No one wants to see your smelly gym shoes next to them for an hour during a class. I’m just saying. I gravitate toward closed-toe, because I think it looks more professional, but I don’t think it’s much of a rule. Just try to keep it classy people.
PROFESSIONAL that means if you don’t think you’d be comfortable wearing that to work then please don’t wear it here. This is not the time to express yourself with a low-cut tank or tights for pants. By the way, pet peeve, tights are NOT pants. If they were they would be called pants and not tights. They are meant to go under things like dresses and long sweaters. Sorry, I digress, you want to be treated and thought of as a professional so please dress like one. Let your creativity show through your writing.
BRANDING Now this is just something I plan on doing and isn’t a rule by any means but I am hoping to find a scarf and other accessories the same color (or close enough) as my business cards and this blog. Think of it this way, when two agents are talking about you (because they totally will because you are awesome) and they can’t recall your name right away what do you want them to remember about you? I can be, “You know, the girl with the blue scarf” or something to that effect. Also I think it makes you seem more polished and together subconsciously and they may not even put it together but I think it will stick in their minds and help make you more memorable.
EVERY CONFERENCE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT The conference I am attending in a few days (Yikes!) is at the beach. It is a mid-sized conference and from what I’ve been told more on the casual side. The larger ones in NYC tend to be a bit more dressed up, and the smaller one’s in Tennessee tend to be more dressed down. So take that into consideration when you plan your outfits. One of the outfits I posted below is very casual but I still have it as a maybe because of the comfort level and stylish look.
Here are a few outfits I’m going to keep in mind whilst I shop this week. As well as a link to my Pinterest board dedicated specifically to conference wear. I hope this helped you in some small way, and remember take all this advice (as well as all other advice) with a grain of salt. Do what makes you comfortable and makes you “You”
Here’s the link to my Pinterest Board: