Monday, September 3, 2012

Countdown to ACFW: Prep Reminders Part 1

September is upon us, and I have baby brain. My novels are my babies and I am obsessing! I have endured the edits, designed my one sheets, and made lists upon lists of pitches and blurbs. It is time to make a game plan for ACFW conference, because as we know, a plan helps us to feel prepared. I am also looking forward to all the people I hope to see...agents and editors, favorite authors,writing friends, and new friends...oh my!
Today I will talk about the materials to bring, and then on the Monday before conference, I will give you some last minute suggestions on how to organize all your friend dates and appointments, assigned and for fun.

On to.......

 The stuff:

 Business Cards: 
Have you ordered your business cards yet? It's about time! You'll want to be sure to consider time for shipping. Things to include on those tickets for networking:
  •  Name and contact info including blog addresses and facebook pages 
  •  A picture of you – some choose not to do this, but it might be that one thing that jogs the memory of that agent or editor who has been introduced to a gazillion other writers like yourself. And it's like high school all over again when you get to swap your wallet pics with your friends!

   Tip: Make sure the design is balanced (if you don't use a template offered on sites like Vistaprint), and not cluttered.

   Optionals: Tagline (your brand) –
   Do you have a catchy phrase that describes what you write? Yet another thing to jog memories and make a lasting impression. I would suggest this is definitely optional though. I have chosen to not include a tagline on my card this year. I am un-agented, and would rather wait to get advice once a find an agent. Maybe you aren't crazy about what you've come up with? Don't sweat it, you can still dazzle them with your pitch without a brand. Pitch – some people include the pitch of their current novel on the back of their card. If you want to use your cards over and over, you can simply print your pitch on a mailing label, and stick it on several cards that you will pass out at conference.
                      Awards -- If you have space, or want to use the back, put your awards on there! Make yourself shine! 

One Sheets:
This tool was my confidence on-a-page last year. I sat down at my appointments and used my one sheet to spur the conversation. It took a lot of stress off of me to recite my pitch and blurb, and it appealed to more senses than just hearing me blab! What does it need to include?
 If you look at my one sheet, start at the top and go clockwise:
  • The title (of course) 
  • a tagline or one liner that gives the essence of your story
  • a bio (mine is at the bottom) that highlights your credentials, awards, and gives a snippet of who you are, contact info and a picture of you (same reason for the business card)
  • your blurb and pitch. The blurb is not a full synopsis of the story. It is more what you would see on the back cover of a book. Don't give your ending away, be sure to hook the reader so they want to request more (a full perhaps?)
    Graphics: I am certainly a visual person. Check out my post last year on designing one sheets. Be sure to include a graphic or two that relates to your story, and place them in an appealing way that works well with the rest of the layout.

 Writing Samples:
If you go to the ACFW appointments page and scroll through the agents and editors, you'll notice many of them ask for writing samples, usually your first chapter. Be sure to polish, polish, polish, and have it ready for them to look at it in that short 15 minute time slot. They DO read them, trust me from experience! Last year, two agents took the time to read part of my chapter right there in front of me. I got a request out of it, so don't think it's a waste of time or paper to bring that with you!

Organizing Your Stuff:

    Business cards: The name tag lanyard you receive at conference is awesome because it is a pouch with zipper pockets. You can use one area for your business cards, and the other for those you collect. Easy and accessible!
   One Sheets, writing samples, schedules, pitches: I used a multi pocketed folder last year, and it worked wonderfully! Each section was reserved for a specific novel with one side holding my one sheets and the other side holding my samples. On the front of each folder pocket, I taped a strip of paper with my pitch printed on it for quick reference.
You'll also want to reserve some pockets for other things like schedules, Editor and agent expectations and People you want to see, meet. I will talk about this in two weeks.

 Do you have any suggestions for getting ready for writer's conferences? How about any questions about the stuff you take with you?


Julia said...

Awesome post, Angie! I have no tips since this will be my first time. I do have a question though. By the multi-pocketed folders (which I think is a great idea, BTW) do you mean you use a 3-ring binder and put folders for each book in it...or is it something different?

Ruth Douthitt said...

Great tips! Authors will receive many handouts. It's best to bring something to stay organized. Great idea!

Sarah Forgrave said...

You do such awesome stuff with graphics, Angie. And your new pic is gorgeous! I used Picasa to make my business cards this year, and it was so much fun!

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks ladies! I was traveling all day yesterday. Ruth, great point about the handouts!! And Sarah, I haven't used Picasa before. Can't wait to see your business cards in person!!! :)