Once, again, the annual Women Writing the West Conference has come and gone. This year, the conference entitled “West by Northwest” took us to the Seattle area, one of my favorite parts of the country. We spent our first day seeing the local sites, such as the fabulous flying fish at Pike Public Market, and eating a memorable bowl of clam chowder for lunch at Lowell’s, while we watched the ships and ferries in Puget Sound. It was a great way to relax before beginning the conference, which was a lot of work, but also a great networking and learning experience with many talented writer friends in WWW. This conference is always top notch, and a splendid western adventure to boot.
I often receive questions that remind me that writing conferences take a certain amount of preparation. Some participants do not know what to expect and benefit from a little direction. As manager of personal appointments with agents and editors for registrants, I was asked by two people on the same day about how they should prepare for their appointments, and for networking in general at a writer’s conference. In case others have pondered the same question, here is my response:
“There is no standard for this. A professional writer has their thoughts in order. Introduce yourself and show any books or publications indicative of your talent and background. Then, present a strong case for the project you have in mind, including a succinct description of it along with marketing platform. Mention how this fits into the publisher/agent’s library of works and customers. Ask appropriate questions. Be friendly and business-like. My experience has been that they don’t like to take proposals and papers with them. Instead, they might ask you to send something specific to them. Do it promptly.
“Would it be a good idea to send a thank you note once you return home? I think so. ALSO, bring plenty of business cards or bookmarks, whatever you have with contact information. (I just printed up 100 bookmarks on my inkjet printer). Hand one to your appointment person as you introduce yourself. Also, if you don’t have books, bring cover art, or a special photo or image as a ‘visual aid’, to focus attention on your work and your project. Relax, and have fun.”
I hope this helps — Joyce Lohse