Make the Most of Writers’ Conferences

I trust Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Frugal Book Promoter for promotion advice so today I’m helping her celebrate the release of the second edition and its recent availability for Kindle (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkProKindle) .  Here is a partial excerpt from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter.

Writers’ Conferences Are More
Than Giant Writing Classes

 By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

A partial excerpt from the new edition of The Frugal Book Promoter

 Make the most of a conference by planning in advance. You want to treat a conference like a garden and bring home all the ripe stuff that suits your palate. That means you have to organize. This section will help you do that. Without it you won’t be able to glean the most from whatever conference you choose.

Your notebook—either the old-fashioned paper kind or the one you set up on your laptop— is key to getting the most from a conference:

  • Bring a seven-subject notebook. Divide the notebook into sections that match your goals. These might include: Agents, Publishers, Promotion, Writing, and Other Contacts. Leave one section open for a category that crops up after you arrive.
  • On each separator page tape a number ten envelope in which you slip business cards, bookmarks, mini notes to yourself, and small brochures. When you arrive home, part of your filing and sorting will be done.
  • Take blank mailing labels to make index tabs that stick out from the edge of your notebook.
  •  On the first night of the conference, clip and paste separate parts of the conference handouts into corresponding segments of your notebook.
  • At the back of your conference notebook make a directory section. Use the label index markers to delineate each one.

o   The first page is a name and address list for publishers. They should be listed in conference handouts but you may glean more from seminars. Star the ones you spoke to. Make notes. What have they published that is similar to your book? Jot down anything that will help them remember you when you write to them and mention your encounter. Query letters work best when you indicate you are familiar with the person or company being queried.

 Big Hint: When you talk to publishers always ask them what they do to promote their authors’ books. Pin them down to specifics.

 o   The second directory page is for fellow authors. Jot notes on them, too. It’s no fun to arrive home with a useless business card.

o   Ditto for agents and for conference planners. You may be surprised at how often you’ll refer to this page.

o   A page for “Other Resources” includes information on anything from other conferences to books you’d like to read.

o   Designate a few pages for writing ideas.

o   The final pages are for new promotion ideas.

Hint: Bring a small pouch of tools—I use one I received with an Estée Lauder gift-with-purchase. Toss into it color-coded pens, snub-nosed scissors (sharp ones may not get you through airport security), a small roll of cellophane tape, your index labels, paperclips, strong see-through packing tape, hammer, tacks, razor, ChapStick, hole puncher, breath mints, elastic bands, Band-Aids, and your personal medication. Don’t unpack this when you get home. You’ll need it in the future for other conferences, book signings, book fairs, and other promotional events.

You can use a conference to promote, too.

  • Some conferences offer tables where participants can leave promotional handouts for their books or services. Before you leave home, ask your conference coordinator how you might utilize this opportunity.
  • Ask the conference coordinator if they publish a newsletter or journal. If so, send the editor media releases as your career moves along.
  • Take your business cards to the conference.
  • If you have a published book, take your bookmarks to give to others. And even a few books. Authors tend not to forget to give their books to people who are in a position to recommend it.
  • If you have an area of expertise that would interest a conference director, introduce yourself. She may be busy, so keep your pitch very short and follow up later.
  • Think in terms of gathering endorsements for your book to use in the future. You are building a network.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of book for writers. Learn more about them at www.howtodoitfrugally.com. She also blogs writers’ resources at Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites pick www.SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com. Follow her tweets at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo. And that new edition of The Frugal Book Promoter? It just won a USA Book News award in its own right (for best business/writing book).

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program

Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS

The Frugal Book Promoter ( http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo ) :
E-mail: HoJoNews@aol.com
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/carolynhowardjohnson
Web site: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I find networking and meeting fellow authors in person a great advantage of conferences. At my age, I’ve not been as interested in the acquiring editors and agents. It takes too long to get published by them.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

  2. Thanks for this, Heidi. I’ll look at her website to gather more hints and suggestions.
    Arletta

  3. Sounds like a good book to have. I might become more organized!

  4. Morgan, I think many of us agree with you on the time it takes to go the traditional route. It’s a big reason I often choose indie or self-publishing. And I love the networking at conferences, too.

    And thanks for dropping by Arletta and Helen. I think conferences are underused–whether they are freebies like The Muse Online Writers Conference I cosponsor or they cost a lot of money like some of the ones I present at (which, by the way, are well worth the money–but only if one uses them to their fullest!)

    Best,
    Carolyn

  5. Terrific tips! Carolyn’s book is worth every penny! I have her Frugal Editor and Frugal Promoter books and they are highlighted and earmarked to the hilt!

    Regards,
    Donna
    Award-winning Children’s Author
    Write What Inspires You Blog
    The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
    Donna M. McDine’s Website
    Author PR Services

  6. Carolyn, thank you for this informative, valuable piece. I always learn something when I attend a conference, and to me, the networking and making new friends is probably the number one reason to go. I just helped plan and attended the Women Writing the West conference in October and that is the highlight of my year. I also met my publisher at one of these conferences!

    Also, I do highly recommend Carolyn’s Frugal books! Lots of great tips.

  7. Good tips. I’m bookmarking this for future reference.

  8. You had me at “frugal.”

    This is excellent advice:

    Big Hint: When you talk to publishers always ask them what they do to promote their authors’ books. Pin them down to specifics.

  9. P.S. The last URL has a typo in the code. Dropped a “u.”

  10. This is great advice. I love the way Carolyn shares what works with fellow writers. She is the best.

    Warmly,
    Terri
    Author of The Cancer Prayer Book
    http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com

  11. Great advice! Thanks

  12. Looking forward to diving into the book when my Fire shows up on the doorstep…waiting…waiting…

  13. Heidi, interesting conversation on Amazon with Leslea Tash who visited your blog and got intererested in The Frugal Book Promoter. Anyway, she e-mailed me to see where she’d mentioned me on her blog, but turnes out she mentioned (and linked to!) you, too! Isn’t this fun!
    http://lesleatash.com/

    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Excited about the release of the second edition of my popular Frugal Book Promoter filled with nitty-gritty promotion opportunities, http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo

  14. Heidi, interesting conversation on Amazon with Leslea Tash who visited your blog and got intererested in The Frugal Book Promoter. Anyway, she e-mailed me to see where she’d mentioned me on her blog, but turnes out she mentioned (and linked to!) you, too! Isn’t this fun!
    http://lesleatash.com/

    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Excited about the release of the second edition of my popular Frugal Book Promoter filled with nitty-gritty promotion opportunities, http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo

  15. Thank you ALL for stopping by! This has been a fun week!


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