The SCBWI Western Washington regional conference is next week. It seems like I should spend some more time preparing and I have some things circulating in my head. Consider the following thoughts. They might prove helpful to your own conference preparation:
- One-on-one consultations or pitch session – If you’ve scheduled one of these, you’ve either submitted up to 1,500 words of your manuscript prior to the conference, or you’ve been practicing your pitch like crazy. It’s good to re-read your opening with an editor’s brain, looking for any potential pitfalls and revising it. The agent or editor may not accept a corrected copy but if they bring up a red flag or concern, it allows you to address it at the time. This could make a positive impression and prove you’re not just sitting around waiting for their feedback for two months prior to the event. For a pitch, it’s vital you practice and nail it so there’s no lost time at your session. You want to allow as much time for feedback and questions as possible. The bottom line: know your story.
- Be willing to share your work – Many writers hold their work close to the vest, afraid of sharing an idea or their story. Maybe you’re afraid someone will steal your idea and write a book – a better one – first. Or you might believe your work is not ready to share. Remember the writing community is just that, a community. One of the great things about it is how willing people are to share advice, encouragement and resources. The vast majority of writers want to help each other.
- Listen – This comes into play when meeting other writers. Listen to their struggles, their triumphs, their experiences.You might have the encouragement someone else needs to hear.
- Reach out to other writers, published and unpublished – This goes hand in hand with listening and sharing your work. If you go to a conference to sit in a corner alone, you’re missing the vast majority of fun and learning. Take a step of faith and make a goal to meet X number of people. You might find a critique partner, a mentor or a friend.