Preparing for a Conference

You’ve registered for a conference. Hopefully its NJRW’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference. Now what?

If you’re like me, it’s been months since you registered. Life moves on and you forget. Suddenly, you look at the calendar and realize it’s almost here. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a conference.

Finish that manuscript!

Are you 90% done with your book and haven’t found the time to finish or edit it? Maybe your kids were home all summer and you couldn’t find ten minutes, let alone an hour, to put two intelligent sentences together. Sound familiar, anyone? Or maybe your day job was so crazed you fell into bed exhausted each night (this one is really familiar to me). Whatever the reason, now is the time to push to get that manuscript as complete as possible.

This year, NJRW is sponsoring a first ever “Push to Pro” event. Over the course of six-weeks, members will work to achieve a writing goal they’ve established to get that manuscript pitch (and PRO) ready. Kudos to NJRW PRO Liason, Marlo Berliner, for coming up with and running with such a great idea. May all of you who entered meet your goal!

Agent/Editor Appointments

Be sure to look at the chapter’s website and see which agents and editors will be taking pitches. Do your research to know which are most suitable for what you write. SIGN UP! Don’t forget to register for the pitch sessions and provide your list of agents and editors you want to meet. If you haven’t already, read Femme Michele’s post on “Writing the Perfect Pitch” to help you prepare.

Business Cards

Regardless of your publishing status, get business cards. You can print them yourself or get them fairly inexpensively at Vistaprint. If you find it difficult to initiate a conversation with people you don’t know, they’re great ice breakers. People naturally look at your card and will ask questions about what you write, whether or not you’re represented by an agent or are published. It’s a great way to network.

What to include? People have varying opinions on this. I try to keep it simple so I don’t have to keep getting them printed. Here’s what I have on mine: Name, Pseudonym, “Writer” (although some people have Contemporary or Historical Writer, etc), email (please make sure it’s a professional email), website or blog (if you have one). I get cards without the shiny coating so I can write on the back if I want to give out my phone number or share any other information.

What to Bring/Wear?

My favorite topic…clothes! I love clothes and shoes. I love getting dressed up. Not every day, mind you, but I like putting aside my yoga pants to put on something that makes me feel feminine and well…sexy! Why not? We’re writing romance novels, many of which are sexy, so why not feel it? I feel confident when I’m a little more dressed up. I may not be published yet, but I’m going to act and project the image of what I desire to be…PUBLISHED.

That being said, pack practical. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Most conferences are business casual, meaning slacks and a nice shirt or a skirt or a dress. Wear layers in case the workshop rooms are warm or cold. When pitching, you don’t need to wear a suit, but I’d wear something appropriate for a job interview. First impressions are important and do you really want to make your first one while wearing a stained NY Giants sweatshirt and ripped jeans?

Some conferences, like Nationals and NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book, have an award ceremony that’s dressier. Personally, I’d go along the lines of fancy party/wedding attire, although I’ve certainly seen people wearing more casual clothes. A dressy pant suit is nice, too. For PYHIAB, prior to the ceremony there’s a cocktail hour where you can and should network. Another great ice-breaker is to compliment someone’s attire.

If you haven’t done so, registration for NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book conference has been extended until September 30th. You can register by going to http://njromancewriters.org/index.php?/conference/put_your_heart_in_a_book_conference/.

It will be a great conference. Stop by and say “hi” to the Femmes. We’d love to see you. Be sure to check out the goody area, where we’ll have some special treats for you.

In case you hadn’t noticed, you no longer have to enter ‘wordpress’ as part of the URL. You can reach us directly at http://thevioletfemmes.com. As our 1-year anniversary nears, we’ll be sharing some more exciting news and have a special contest. Come to the conference and stay tuned to the website for details!

Hope to see you at the NJRW conference in October!

Maria
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Why You Should Go to a Conference

With the one year anniversary of The Violet Femmes fast approaching, I’ve realized once again how blessed I am to have such a great group of women supporting me.

As you may or may not know, The Femmes came to fruition at last year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, put on by New Jersey Romance Writers, an excellent sub-group of Romance Writers of America. Encouraged by a glass (or four) of white wine (it’s surprising how much wine can promote creativity), holed up in a hotel room after the awards ceremony, the Violet Femmes were born. It goes without saying that if we weren’t all at that conference, our little group might not exist. Which is what prompted me to write this blog.

First of all, I want to propose that we coin a new term…Pro-ference. Because, really, there are no “con”s to attending a writers conference.

So, here are my top five reasons for attending a Pro-ference…whether it be Put Your Heart in a Book, another local conference, or (gulp!), RWA Nationals:

1.  Camaraderie.  There is no better feeling for a writer than being in the company of others…lots of others…who understand the daily trials, self-doubt, and successes of being a writer. Plus, the sharing usually involves cocktails!

cocktails

 2.   Advice.  Michael Hauge recently spoke at a special event for New Jersey Romance Writers, and he made an observation I found to be true from my first NJRW meeting. Romance writers, he said, above writers of all other genres, are generous to a fault when it comes to sharing information about our business.  Sure, there are egos, but I have never met a romance writer who guarded trade secrets more closely than Colonel Sanders guarded his secret fried chicken recipe. For example, at my first NJRW conference a couple of years ago, USA Today bestselling author Leanne Banks gave the Special Presentation, reserved for the first 100 registrants for the conference. We spoke a bit before her presentation, and I actively participated in a little exercise she conducted.Photo: Me sipping a "Harlequin Heartbreaker" at the Harlequin bash.

Later, she sat on a panel with Susan Litman, of Harlequin, and they talked about what Harlequin looked for in its different lines. Susan had just requested a full manuscript from me when I pitched her my category romance, so I sat in on that session. Leanne greeted me when she came in the room. Afterwards, I cornered her (poor woman!) in the bar as she grabbed a quick glass of wine, and asked her a question that had been nagging me ever since I had pitched to Susan. Leanne spent about fifteen minutes with me, answering questions and giving advice. And I had just asked her one question!

3.  Pitches.  As Michele discussed in last week’s blog, pitching is a prime reason to attend a pro-ference. Where else do you have the opportunity to meet, chat with, and pitch to several editors and agents in one place? Most regional conferences offer pitch sessions. NJRW’s conference offers lots…probably aided by our proximity to New York City, that publishing mecca. This year, NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference offers a choice of almost 30 agents and editors…that’s a lot of potential to sell your manuscript!

 4.    Workshops. Probably the biggest draw for serious writers is the schedule of workshops offered. From the craft of writing, to resourcing, to brainstorming, workshops give us writers the tools we need to get the job done…not an easy feat, I can assure you. They help with confidence building, show us ways to get out of that corner we’ve just written ourselves into, and tell us what to do once we feel our manuscript is ready for someone’s eyes other than our own.

5.     Market knowledge. Whether it’s gleaned from editor and agent panels, or in conversations with other authors, finding out what agents and editors are seeking is invaluable information for aspiring and published authors alike. As audience demands are constantly changing, it is important to understand where the minds of the people helping you sell your book lay. Understanding the business of writing is instrumental in getting those books of our hearts published.

So, have you attended a pro-conference? What was your reason for attending, and what did you take away with you?

Hugs,

Jaye

p.s. Stay tuned for a special contest celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Violet Femmes! Thank you to everyone who has followed us over the past year. We appreciate your support!

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