I know so many of you are attending conferences this year, especially ACFW, and for some of you, this may be your first conference season! I know what you're thinking-- it's only June! But can you believe that ACFW is less than two months away?!? Yikes!
Do yourself a favor, and get started on conference prep now. You'll be glad you did!
Here are some ways you can start getting ready.
- Research agents and editors. I am always shocked by how many people go into a meeting with an agent or editor, treating these professionals as if they're interchangeable. They're not. While one editor may want YA, another may completely refuse to see it. Respect their time and your town by doing your research before you go. Otherwise, you will come across completely unprofessional. It's one thing if you meet an editor in Starbucks and don't know what they're seeking, but quite another if you request an appointment and don't take the time to do your research. The more you know, the more you'll help yourself in the long run by finding a good match for your story.
- Start asking big story questions. Even if you're not done with your manuscript yet, ask yourself big story questions. What is the takeaway? What is the main source of conflict/tension? What genre is this story? Who do you see as your target audience? Why did you choose that particular setting, or those particular qualities for your characters? What makes them a good fit for each other? Everything about your story should be intentional, and you should know it better than anyone else. Think of questions editors may ask you ahead of time, and consider these opportunities to chat about your favorite fictional people rather than a quiz you might "fail."
- Get your draft/proposal in shape. If you're unpublished, editors and agents will almost always want to see your full manuscript along with your proposal before they can make an offer. Expedite the process by having that ready to go, so that if you do get a request, you don't take six-eight months before answering. Also, I've found that the further along I am in my story, the better I can articulate it, so that's an added bonus!
- Get help with your one sheet and pitch! Whether it's a critique partner, mentor, or someone you pay for help, don't try to go at this alone! Practice your pitch out loud, and start crafting it now. Two of our dear Alley Cats offer amazing services that can help you out! Laurie Tomlinson (see her Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/laurie.tomlinson.7 ) and Angie Dicken (https://www.facebook.com/dicken.angie ) are both AMAZING. They fill up fast, so if you want to contract their services (Laurie does a lot of content editing and Angie has an incredible one sheet business, although both offer other services as well) you'll want to do it soon!
- Pray. Start praying now that God will give you divine appointments, and that you will be sensitive to His leading. Your conference experience may not go exactly as planned (ie-- wouldn't we all love manuscript requests from all the major publishing houses? :) ) but God knows just who you need to meet and in what timing, and that includes people you can encourage, even if you are a first time attendee!
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.