Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Conference Preparedness--What's that?

Lovely Georgiana commented in yesterday's post about the one-sheet being the biggest thing for her to create for her conference "package." That made me wonder what exactly is supposed to be in a conference "package"?

Help me out, everyone. I'm going to attempt to list what I think that package should hold, but I'm certain I'll get something wrong or miss something entirely and wish I hadn't have when I get there.

Here's my list so far:

1) Business Cards: Don't need to be fancy, just need to have contact information. Name, Snail mail address, Email address, Website address if you have one, and a stunning picture of yourself would be nice, too, but not a deal breaker. Hand out liberally to fellow writers, etc.

2) Copies of your One-sheet: A One-sheet is an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with your full name, contact information, bio information with writing credentials/credits, a summary of what you write, branding clause if you have one (mine is Writing Faithful Romances Worth Pondering), and a head shot picture of yourself. This is the sheet that you'll leave with the editors and agents for them to help keep who is who straight in their head once the conference is over. Most say that lots of white space is desirable, or an aesthetic background photo that represents your type of writing. Conciseness is the key, while still presenting enough to sell yourself to the powers that may be.

3) Log line for the story you're intending to pitch. Some print these on sticker labels with the title of your story and then attach them to the back of your business cards. Good for cheating, too. If you get tongue tied around agents and editors in general, just pull your card out and read the back to get grounded. The log line helps you develop your elevator pitch, too.

4) An elevator pitch: Know your story and be able to summarize it in a few short sentences. Memorizing is good here.

5) Longer pitch: What you wish to say while in one-on-one appointments. If you're not pitching a particular story, what about coming up with some good questions to ask instead. Make the most of those appointments.

6) A Proposal Package: This could vary by what the individual agents/editors give as personal guidelines for what they are looking for. But in general, I believe a Proposal Package includes the following if you're pitching a particular story.
  • A cover letter on good quality paper, preferably on letterhead.
  • Author biography
  • Market analysis
  • Story Synopsis
  • Initial 3 chapters of story wishing to pitch
  • A One-sheet
  • Business card

Put all this together in a folder and create one for each of your target agents and editors should you be given an opportunity to present it. They likely won't take it with them, but if they request it be sent to them, then you'll be more than ready.

Okay, I think that's it, besides Bible, clothing and toiletries, etc. to pack. Now it's your turn. What did I miss? Help me be prepared, please!

Surrendering to Him,



Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Wow, Eileen, you are thorough! I am definitely bookmarking this page! Thanks!

Katie Ganshert said...

Same with me! I'm bookmarking this page! How helpful! The only thing I have is a synopsis and sample chapters! No one sheet. Or business cards. Or market analysis. Or bio, for that matter! I have some work to do this summer! How important do you think business cards are?

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Sherrinda, does this help you a little more about what a one-sheet is supposed to accomplish? Some authors put more focus on their stories on a one-sheet, than on their credentials. Others have a longer bio/credential section if they have lots to toot about. It depends on where you're at at the time in your writing journey. Feel free to email me at eileenastels[@]rogers[dot]com if you'd like me to send you mine. It's in no way perfect, but might help you at least see how one writer has done it.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Katie, business cards are quite inexpensive to have made up at Staples, etc., and they are a great tool for passing out to new aquaintenances at conferences to help you keep in touch afterward.

Plus, when you are ready to create a proposal package to send out for seeking representation, they look great tucked in the business card holder of the portfolio folder that will hold all the pieces of your proposal.

I know at the conferences I've gone to, most do pass out their business cards to each other. But some don't have them, too, so you wouldn't be alone if you decide against getting them.

Georgiana Daniels said...

You've got it! That's exactly what I take to conference. As to business cards, has some styles available for free (I think all you pay is shipping.) Then, if you want to add your photo or something it's a minimal charge.

Jill Kemerer said...

I can feel your excitement through this post--it's going to be a great conference for you!

I'm not putting together a one-sheet for RWA Nationals because it doesn't seem to be standard practice there (I could be wrong! It's my first conference, but my friends who have gone don't hand out one-sheets.) I think each conference and writing organization is different. I am going to have business cards printed, though. Guess I'd better get on it!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Wow, Eileen, you've made a wonderful check-list here. Looks like you're doing a great job preparing!

Tana said...

Eileen I am praying you find representation through this conference. You have touched my heart with your brilliant preparedness.

Debra E. Marvin said...

What a great list, Eileen. Thanks.
I'll be printing it out. I've put off the professional head shot (can you tell that's not me in the photo?) for awhile. What's a reasonable amount to pay?

Just a little over three months now, so I better get on the ball. (cliche alert).

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh gosh, I never thought about a conference package. EEeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

This is great info though. I'm memorizing some of it and trying to lower my blood pressure at the same time. LOL

Eileen Astels Watson said...

T. Anne, thanks for your prayers! Actually, the conference I'm heading to in just a couple weeks isn't one I'll be really pitching at, though I want to be prepared should I be surprised by someone there. I'm more going to it for the learning and gaining some guidance.

My stories are geared heavily toward the Steeple Hill Love Inspired line. I really, really want to write for them as I love their line. The stories are concise, but so enjoyable and make me challenge my spiritual growth with each one. And unfortunately they aren't being represented at this conference, but they will be at the ACFW one. So that's the biggie conference for me this year.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Debra, I have no idea about professional head shots. I cheated and am using one my daughter took of me. I think at this stage as long it looks descent, it'll do. If I ever get published then maybe I'll invest in getting a professionl one done.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jill, I believe you're correct in that each conference is different. I did go to a small RWA chapter one a few years ago and people had one-sheets there. It's totally up to you. They are a great thing though to connect a face to name to story your pitching all on one nice looking sheet of paper.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Georgian, Sheeew, glad I got it right. I don't know if I'll even have time to get all this done!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Cindy, thanks for the vote of confidence. Much appreciated. Now if only I can get those lines and pitches fine tuned and memorized.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jessica, you have three months--Work Girl!!! I'll be asking to see your conference package the minute I get to meet you in person. LOL

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh yes, Eileen, that is very helpful! And I am definitely emailing you for yours to look at. You are so sweet!

Erica Vetsch said...

That sounds like what I take to conference lots or prayer in advance, and a healthy dose of pitch-anxiety. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Great list, Eileen! I'm going to print it out to use as I prepare for ACFW. You're lucky! You'll be ready for ACFW after all the prep you're doing now!

Lily Whalen said...

I just realized what you missed! Note paper and writing instruments to take notes during all those great workshops! Don't leave home without them :)