The conference connection
Published: March 9, 2004
|If you are making plans to attend a writers conference this year, you'll want to make the most of it by being ready to network with editors and agents and then following up. This is the key advice offered by conference veterans Sharon McDonnell (Hitting the jackpot at writers conferences) and Jennifer Nelson ( the post-conference hustle). In addition to workshops, where you can learn new ways to improve your craft and increase your bottom line, conferences offer a unique opportunity to pitch your story and book ideas directly to editors and agents. |
Having been on the receiving end of dozens of conference pitches, I can verify that the face-to-face query with a letter or e-mail to follow up is an effective strategy. Each year, more than a dozen stories in the magazine are the result of meetings I've had with writers at conferences. I've also met dozens of writers who have had good results talking with agents and other editors. Many writers tell me that conference networking has led to magazine assignments or requests from agents to see proposals and book manuscripts.
If you are going to make a pitch on a nonfiction article, heed this proviso: Be prepared. Be sure you've read the magazine and have a good idea of what kinds of stories the editor wants. For example, at The Writer we look for nuts-and-bolts articles about the writing process and the business of writing. You may have written a perfectly wonderful literary critique of a famous author's work, but that's not for us.
Be ready with a fresh approach to the material. The editor wants to know: What's the angle? I've lost count of the number of queries for articles on rejection we've received. Sure, rejection goes with the job of being a writer, but the topic alone is not enough to sway me. One writer I met at a conference pitched her approach to rejection this way: "Don't get mad, get even by getting published." Her humorous yet instructive approach to the material intrigued me. She followed up when I returned to the office, and eventually we published the article.
Going to a conference is an investment in your writing career. This special issue will help you make the most of that investment. Inside you'll find a guide to 250 conferences, plus tips on how to make important connections with publishing insiders.
And don't forget the invaluable benefit of sharing experiences with your peers. The friends you make can help you stay inspired and motivated.
--Posted March 9, 2004