Shelley Widhalm

Tips for Writing Conferences

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Conferences, Writing Processes on March 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

When you invest your money into a writer’s conference, you want to get a good ROI, or return on investment.

Conferences offer ideas for improving your writing, inspiration and motivation to do that writing, tips on the publishing world and opportunities to meet with agents, editors and writers.

To get that ROI, there are a few things you can do to prepare. I will be taking my own advice (by reviewing what I’ve learned from writing magazines and books) to the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference March 28-29.

The conference offers workshops on elements of writing, author panels, agent and critique roundtables, and social events that bring together published and aspiring writers, editors and agents. While there, I hope to learn something new about the writing process and gain new perspectives on what makes for good writing

Here is some of the advice I’ve gathered about making the most of attending a conference:

• Plan ahead on which sessions you want to attend; and don’t forget a notebook to take notes.
• Know which genre your work fits in; don’t just say fiction or nonfiction.
• Prep for the pitch session or agent roundtable: research to find the best fit for your work; check the agent or editor’s websites, social media and other material online to identify what kind of books and writers they represent.
• Prepare a three-sentence pitch of your project with the title, hook and basic premise. Have a one-page explanation of you and your project, along with the first few pages to hand over if interest is expressed. If it is, ask when and how you should submit your proposal or sample chapters.
• Approach editors and agents in the right way, such as in a social setting or following a workshop, not when they are engaged in another conversation, in the restroom or eating. Ask them if they want to be solicited and, if so, how best to contact them.
• If you learn that your work isn’t right for the agent or editor, don’t take it personally.
• Plan to network, which includes bringing business cards (preferably with your photo), and don’t stay tied to your friends, because you might miss out on meeting new connections. Follow up with emails, but no more than two if there is no response.
• Follow up when you receive any kind of positive feedback from agents, writers and others two weeks after the conference.
• Take photos and post them. Tweet, blog, Facebook and engage in other types of social media.

(See Zoey’s blog on Dog Conferences for Dogs Only at


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