Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Four P's for Attending a Writers' Conference by Kerrie Flanagan, Guest Blogger

Kerrie Flanagan is the director of Northern Colorado Writers, a writers' support organization born from Kerrie's desire to help writers of all types learn their craft and succeed in the marketplace. Her business started as a small conference targeting local writers in Northern Colorado but has grown steadily. There is now a writers' studio where classes are held and critique groups can meet, as well as the annual conference.

Welcome, Kerrie. I'm getting very excited about the 2012 conference, especially now that I've seen the lineup of workshops, presenters, agents and editors. As usual, you have something for everyone.


The Four P's for Attending a Writers' Conference by Kerrie Flanagan, Guest Blogger

Each year I host the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. As we get closer and closer to the event, I get more and more excited. I love spending two full days with writers. My personal opinion is that every writer should attend one conference a year. Of course I am partial to mine, but there are so many wonderful conferences around the country to choose from, you shouldn't have a problem finding one that fits your needs. (Visit Shaw Guides for conference information).

I have put together these four P's to help you get the most out of a writers conference you might be attending in the near future.

*Be Prepared*

The Boy Scouts were definitely on to something here. Take time to research the faculty who will be there. This will allow you to figure out who you want to meet and also give you some talking points when you do visit with them. If you are pitching to an agent or editor it is imperative you do some upfront work. (Here is an article I wrote with tips on pitch sessions.) Make a plan of the sessions you want to attend and what you hope to get from them.

*Be Professional*

Writing is a business and I believe all writers need to treat it as such.Therefore, at a conference you should be professional. Have business cards made and ready to hand out when people ask for one. Be respectful of the agents and editors. You want to be remembered-- but not for stalking. Put some thought into what you should wear (think business casual).

*Be Polite*

A conference is not the time to be a wall-flower and hide in the corner or in your hotel room. It doesn't matter if you are a self-proclaimed introvert, you need to dig deep inside and unearth any extrovert skills you may have. Introduce yourself to other writers at meals, hand out business cards, ask questions during sessions and talk to the agents and editors. You never know what may come from this meeting.

*Be Productive*

Go to as many sessions as possible and meet as many people as you can. Regardless of how tired you get, you should stay until the end. There is plenty of time for sleep and rest after the conference. A lot of time goes into making a great event from start to finish, so take advantage of that.

*What are the conferences near you that you will be attending in the next couple of months?

*Do you have any conference advice for those writers new to the conference scene?*


To learn more about Kerrie and Northern Colorado Writers, visit the NCW website. She can be found on Twitter as @Kerrie_Flanagan and on Facebook as Kerrie Stephen Flanagan.

Kerrie's article mentioned above on How to Pitch to a Literary Agent at a Writers' Conference for WOW! Women on Writing, is a must read for conference goers.


Dean K Miller said...

This will be my first conference that I've attended. Two days of full-on writer's immersion is pretty exciting.

Looking forward to the NCW conference. Hopefully I won't be too "star-struck" and overwhelmed!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips. I've never attended a conference, in part because there are so few in my area.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks very much for hosting Kerrie.

Kerrie - Thanks for those good ideas. I think conferences can be very powerful tools to help writers, but you make such a good point that it's also important to make the best use possible of them.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Dean, you're going to love it. Be prepared to end up motivated and inspired...and totally exhausted.

Alex, you don't know what you're missing. We're so lucky in Colorado to have so many excellent writers' organizations who host annual conferences.

Hi Margot, Kerrie works so hard to support and inspire writers, and her conference just gets better every year. She's amazing.

Kerrie said...

Pat, thanks for letting me be your guest blogger today (And for your nice comments about the conference).

Dean,I think you will have a great time at the conference, but like Pat said, you will be exhausted at the end--but in a good way. :-)

Well then Alex, you should come to Colorado for our conference. You would have a great time and we would all get to meet you in person!

Margot. Thanks for your comments. I am always surprised by how many people leave a writers conference early. I don't understand. Unless it is a dud of an event, than stay until the very end!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I know, if you leave a conference early you might miss something. :)

Terry Odell said...

Only wish I'd seen the announcements earlier. Would have loved to participate.

Susan S said...

Great advice - especially the part about meeting as many people as you can. That doesn't just apply to "industry professionals" either. Everyone means everyone!

I've made some really great writing friends from what might otherwise seem like random conversations. The absolute best conversation-starter of all time at a conference is "Hi, I'm [insert your name here] ... what do YOU write?"

If there's one universal truth about writers, it's that we love talking about our projects!

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

These tips are great. And I snuck over to the 'pitch' article as well- likewise fabulous! I have a conference next month and one in May. So thanks, both of you :)

Anonymous said...

This will be my third NCW conference and I look forward to it every year. The 4 P's are PERFECT--thanks, Pat and Kerrie