Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home from the Conference - Now What?

 I'm not the jealous type.

Really, I'm not.

But after a weekend full of blog updates, Facebook posts, photos and Tweets emanating from the West coast, I'm feeling every-shade-of-green envious of the folks that were able to attend SCBWI's 40th anniversary celebration at the conference in Los Angeles.
I went to the LA conference in 2008, and as much as it was a magical, transformational experience, I remember my first SCBWI conference with a little more clarity. The conference was hosted by SCBWI's Iowa chapter in Iowa City, and it was an inspirational and energetic weekend. I couldn't sleep at all the first night. My head buzzed from the amount of information I'd soaked up that day.

Being in the company of so many writers for the first time, people who wrote in the same niche as me, was heady stuff. I came home feeling validated, ready to work, and with an armload of notes, handouts, sample copies, and contact information. You're probably feeling like that now, whether this was your first or fifteenth conference.

But once you're home and (mostly) unpacked from your conference, what should you do with all the stuff. How can you best make use of the time and energy you spent collecting information to further your writing career?

Here are five ways to organize and help plan your next moves:
  1.  Read over your handwritten notes. Type them up, possibly organizing them by similar topics. All information on plot strategies can be grouped together, advice for the agent search can be on another page, etc. This can be tedious but at the same time exciting because you get to revisit the conference all over again. Make sure to attribute who said what in case you decide to write a topical article or blog entry, and need a reference.
  2. Send thank you notes. Did you get a conference critique from an agent, author, or editor? Let them know that you appreciate their advice. They'll remember you when you get around to submitting that manuscript.
  3. Follow-up on other conference contacts. Visit the blogs of people you met, friend them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Maybe you met someone with whom you'd like to exchange manuscripts, or you talked with an author who blogs and had great tips for starting your own. These connections could lead to great opportunities. 
  4. Go over the guidelines of publishing houses and agencies. Read and reread these before sending your manuscripts out there. Pay attention to the submission time lines and how many pages/chapters they'd like to see. You don't want to waste an opportunity because you missed the fine print.
  5. Finally, write, write, write! You're full of creative energy now that you're back home. Take advantage of it to start a new project or dive back into your WIP. 
What other strategies do you use post-conference?


  1. Someday (hopefully) I will attend a conference and be able to put your tips into practice. Until then, I'll dig into my bookshelf to read another writing book.

  2. I love conferences, but I hate the withdrawal that follows! This is great advice to help you draw from the experience and keep the inspiration going. And yes, I was hugely jealous of everyone who was in LA! :-)

  3. I blush to confess I've been remiss with thank-you notes over the years. Great reminder, and an excellent list.

  4. Inluvwithwords: There are some great writing books out there. A few of my favorites: Chapter After Chapter and Page After Page, both by Heather Sellers; Creating Characters Kids Will Love, by Elaine Marie Alphin. My critique group has used the last one for writing exercises when we don't have manuscripts to look at.


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