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After the Conference

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 3:34
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Cathy-on-a-Stick, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Patricia MacLachlan! 

We often give plenty of tips for writers going to a conference, but after-the-conference tips? Not so much. So as I just wrapped up a writer’s conference on Sunday, I’ve got a little writer advice I can share. In fact, I could probably condense ALL my writer advice into one word: follow up. (Okay, fine. Two words.)

Let’s Be Friends

Did you meet a writer who turns out to live twenty minutes from you? Or maybe you sat next to a writer who lives on the other side of the country, but something clicked between the two of you. Keep in touch!

If you live near one another, set up a coffee break. Even if you’re miles apart, thanks to the wonders of the digital world, you can still enjoy a coffee break together, using Skype or other video call apps.

You may have found your new critique partner or beta reader. Or maybe you’ve just found your new best writer buddy. But you won’t keep your new best buddy if you don’t follow up after the conference.

Open Submission Periods

Many agents and editors who attend conferences will offer open submission periods after a conference. Hold on to that information because the only way you have the goods is if you attended the conference! And I hope you were paying attention when the agents and editors talked about what they’re looking for—and what they are NOT interested in.

I know it’s tempting to send whatever you’ve been working on to the whole list of professionals from the conference. I get it; you paid a lot of money and you want to get your money’s worth. But if you send your cozy mystery romance to the editor who specifically requested erotica, you are not going to magically change her mind about what she likes. But you could get stuck in her mind as the writer who may be a bit dim (and unprofessional).

Here’s what your money did buy: a guarantee that the agent (or editor) will take a look at what you’ve sent. Not an intern, not the over-worked assistant, but the agent (or editor). That’s why you’re given a special subject line for your submission. Theoretically, you’re going straight to the top of the pile. Now, I can’t promise that every agent or editor follows this practice, but in my experience, it’s been pretty consistent.

So don’t waste your time and theirs by sending everything out and seeing if anything sticks. Carefully target your queries or submissions, and don’t dilly-dally. Because if you wait too long before you follow up, that door’s going to close!

The Personal Connection

Maybe you had an opportunity to chat for a while with an agent, editor, or famous author sometime during the conference. Maybe you felt like there was a personal connection there. Maybe you’re pretty sure he or she is your new best friend forever.

It could happen, but resist the urge to stalk the new BFF, even if—or perhaps especially if—that new BFF is all over social media. Maybe you could friend this person and maybe you can send a nice note about how lovely it was to meet. And who knows? Maybe you will become BFFs!

Or maybe you’ll just be one among 5,000 of his or her closest Facebook friends. But it’s for sure you won’t even be that if you don’t follow up after the conference.

And now it’s your turn. What’s your best after-the-conference tip? I’d love to hear all about it while I’m still in follow-up mode!


Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer.
She’s still catching up on her sleep after the conference but any day now, she’s going to start writing something new. And then she’s going to follow up and send it to an editor. (Wish her luck!)

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