Friday, June 29, 2012

Prepare for Conference Early

Yes, I know ACFW's Dallas conference is still three months away, but in the writing world, that's like ten minutes! Which doesn't hurt to start preparing now.

I'm a big fan of lists and preparing so this was a dream post for me. Here's a short list of items you can work on early to be prepared for conference time.

One Sheets

Those one sheets are important. You'll need them for lunches and agent/editor meetings, and random run-ins with those wonderful agents and editors in the bathroom. They're important, so get to work! This also gives you time to have critique partners or writing friends take a look.


Yes, I said shopping. I knew I'd catch your attention. You need business casual attire as well as a super duper glitzy number for the gala (okay, it doesn't have to sparkle but this is like adult Prom :D without songs by Milli Vanilli or Hansen or whoever was popular when you were younger), so now's the time to start looking.

Study Editors and Agents

Whether you've signed up for appointments or not, if you plan on meeting with agents and editors, it's a good idea to know who you're talking to. Study these people like you'd study before sending a query. Know what they're looking for so you can be as prepared as possible.


If you plan on meeting with editors or agents, or even chatting with them at lunches or in the elevator, having a pitch ready is smart. Working on it now gives you time to tweak and practice on unsuspecting victims in the grocery store. One thing I've also done is print my pitch (with the name of the story) on sticky labels and put them on the back of my business cards. That way you have something to refer to if you forget or if someone needs to remember you by your story.

Business Cards

Yes, you're a professional now. If you haven't already, I'd recommend getting some business cards. You can put them with your one sheets, you can hand them out to other professionals or new friends you meet. And you can give the leftovers to your kids to play with. All around good fun!

Those are all the things you can start now and keep working on. And as the conference gets closer, here's what I'd recommend as well. Get a folder. Yep, get a folder for all those things you've already started on, and then add to it. Here's what else you can put inside:

* A checklist of what you need to bring (including all the items above, your camera, extra money, etc.)
* Transportation information, for when you arrive in Dallas and need to get from one place to the next
* Phone numbers of your roommates or anyone else you plan on meeting there
* A few sets of the first scene or chapter of the book you're pitching (sometimes agents or editors will like to see these - yes, it's happened to me before!)
* Flight information

Yeah, there's more, but this is a great place to start. When the conference gets closer, you'll start to find more information on author sites and agent sites. You can also check our archives for old posts if you'd like specifics on one sheets, business cards, pitches, and more.

Are you already getting ready for conference? Can you think of anything else to start working on now?


Cindy is a Colorado native, living near the mountains with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She writes contemporary Christian romance, seeking to enrich lives with her stories of faith, love, and humor.

To learn more about Cindy, visit her at her personal site,


Jessica R. Patch said...

Great tips, Cindy!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Hi Jessica, I hope it was helpful!

Julia M. Reffner said...

This is a great list! I think I'm well on my way. Should everyone bring one-sheets even if you're not quite prepared to sell?

Lindsay Harrel said...

Cannot. Wait. Just...cannot.

Nancy Kimball said...

I absolutely love the idea of putting my elevator pitch on the back of a few business cards. This is my first year to attend conference so I really enjoyed this post.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Julia, I think it depends on where you're at as far as looking for an agent and how far along you are in your story.

If you're just editing (or almost finished with your story) and then planning on looking for agents soon, it doesn't hurt to bring a one sheet. If you have a chance to talk with an agent or editor and they're interested, then you will have something to give them (even if you have to tell them you're going to finish the story and edit first). If you're at the beginning stages, nowhere near looking for an agent, then I'd say just take the classes, learn what you can and enjoy the experience!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Lindsay, yay! Glad you're excited. It's an amazing experience!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Hi Nancy! I heard that tip (or some version of having a copy of your pitch) three or four years ago and it was a great idea. How exciting this is your first year for conference. You're going to have a wonderful time!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thanks. I think I'm going to make some up. There's a part of me that delays things because I'm scared if that makes any sense, but at the very least it will be practice.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Julia, that makes sense. I think it's a good idea to make one. That way, you will already have a summary and some other elements you might need for a query or proposal later down the road. It's a win/win :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good grief, it sounds just as overwhelming as it did last year. I better get busy!

Julia M. Reffner said...


I love the photo you picked. I think you made a great decision. So pretty and I think your shirt really brings out your eyes :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Mary, it IS overwhelming! But it's also wonderful. An experience, as you know, that you'd never want to miss :)

And I agree with Julia, your photo is perfect. Great colors - very lovely.

Anonymous said...

Cindy! New picture??? Love it. You look beautiful.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Thanks, Tina!