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Preparing now for a successful conference

July 12, 2012

It’s summer. It’s hot out. Every single day. It’s hard to imagine days in late October when the heat has broken and Florida’s natural wonder comes without having to wring out your shirt.

Yet those days are closer than you think, and with them come our conference, the Florida Writers Conference. If you’re looking to find an agent or publisher for your work, now’s the time to lay the groundwork for success. Here’s how:

  1. Finish your work. If you write fiction, your work needs to be done. It needs to be thoroughly proofread and edited. It needs to be ready for an agent or publisher to work with before you arrive. If you write non-fiction, you don’t necessarily need a finished with the book, but your book proposal should be the best you can possibly create.
  2. Do your research. Not every agent or publisher is looking for every genre or type of book. A good conference should give you an idea of what each agent or publisher wants. Find someone who wants what you’re selling. If you don’t match up with the person you’ve selected to pitch, you’re wasting your own time and money and potentially denying someone who might have something that agent or publisher wants.
  3. Do more research. There are 14 agents or publishers at this year’s Florida Writers Conference. If you attend a different conference, there should be agents or publishers there, as well. If you’re attending a conference to sell you work, Google is your friend. Research the people you want to pitch to. Read their blog. Follow their Twitter feed. Subscribe to them on Facebook. Find out what they like or don’t like. Then act accordingly.
  4. Network. We write about writing communities a lot on this blog, and with good reason. You know writers. Some of them may be published, some are probably trying to get published. Now’s the time to tap into your network. Describe what you’re writing. Ask about their experiences or experiences from people they know.
  5. Research your opportunities. Although the Florida Writers Conference is, by far, the coolest, most incredible conference in the whole universe (it’s a marketing blog, I get to say that), there are other conferences or events that might work for you, based on your genre. If there’s a specific agent you’re  interested in, find out where they’re appearing. It might not be the Florida Writers Conference (but you should come anyway).
  6. Obtain or develop the following essentials: thank you notes, a basic knowledge about what people in the industry do, curiosity about what people in the industry do, a set of questions you’d like to know about an agent or publisher’s job, a budget for potentially buying a drink for people you might like to talk to.

These tips aren’t specific to our conference, but are great ways to get ready for any conference. Ours, of course, is the best conference in the entire universe.

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