I have a sticky note app on my laptop, and one of my highlighted sticky notes has been on there since May. It is a prestigious list...the names pop out at me every time I log on, and I get a little nervous. And then I have a string of emails, and I look at those names, and I get super excited! ACFW is a little over two weeks away and I wanted to give some last minute tips (some of which I need to take for myself!) on how to prepare for this social extravaganza.
- Research, research, research: Make sure you know who the agents and editors are and what they represent. Although everyone focuses on their pitches and synopsis, you need to know what the agents and editors represent, who they are, what they are looking for. You can go to the conference page at ACFW and click on Editor Appointments and Agent Appointments to get their write ups. Then, go to their agency's or publishing house's website. Know the authors and the books they represent. Are they a good fit? Can you use those to compare your own book too?
- Prepare for the lunches: Not only do I have a list of possible appointments, I have a couple of names for who I would like to sit at lunch with. The lunches are c-r-a-z-y! Everyone is rushing to the table they want, to the agent or editor who may ask to hear their pitch...First of all...RELAX! God's got you covered here. If you don't get the person you want, you are still networking...you are meeting more writers, more professionals in the industry, you are learning the ins and outs which is just as important as pitching your novel. However, do prepare for this, know who you want to sit with—and be ready to sparkle if you get that opportunity to give your pitch. Oh, and take your one sheets with you!! The editor I sat with last year, gathered all our one sheets. Who knows if she looked through the pile, but at least I got mine out there. Look at Katie Ganshert's vlog and listen to her tips on the lunches!
- Be sure to find out when your favorite authors are out signing books, and be sure you bring your books with you to get signed!
- Look up the Carol and Genesis nominees ahead of time. You will see who the finalists are around the conference (they will have it on their name tag...but if you know what they wrote, that's even better!) Congratulate them and cheer for them at the banquet. It's so much more fun if you have a name with a face and you know what they write. You can be the conversation starter when you bump into them in the hall, and also a great encourager!
- Start contacting all your friends that you want to meet at conference. Find time for coffee breaks, dinners, late night chocolate indulgence (ready my fellow Alley Cats?)... You can get so caught up in your own agenda that you will walk away from conference missing great times with all these people in the blog world and the ACFW crit groups. And, you will be miserable if you don't prepare ahead and show up without any chocolate to share!
In the end, remember conference is a chance to deepen your knowledge for the craft, and fellowship with other Christians who have the same passion for writing as you. Be confident, be prepared, and HAVE FUN!