Get the Most from a SCWW Conference-Focus on What You Want by Joan Y. Edwards

Focus on What You Want

Focus on What You Want image
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Get the Most from a SCWW Conference-Focus on What You Want″ by Joan Y. Edwards

Joan Y. Edwards 300 res cropped 2012-09-23 04.07.57

I hope that by reading my blog post or attending a conference, you’ll learn a writing skill or technique to inspire you to believe in yourself as a writer or illustrator and never give up.

Before the Conference

  1. What skill do you most want to improve? Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill.
  2. Visit the webpages of at least three of the presenters that interest you. Check out their books at the library or on
  3. If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down on 3×5 note cards or a sheet of paper and ask them at the conference. Most websites list a contact page with an email address. In case you don’t get to ask your question at the conference, you can contact them later.
  4. Get business cards with your name, address, phone number, email address, website, and blog. Many people put an image and link to their published books on the back. Use,,, or local print shop. You can also handcraft your own using your computer.
  5. Get bookmarks printed:,, You can also handcraft your own by hand or on your computer.
  6. Buy a new spiral notebook with a bright colorful design or composition book with a black and white cover. This way all of your notes are in one place. You can put it in front of your computer when you get home, and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.
  7. Buy two pens that write just the way you like a pen to write. Put them in your pocketbook to take with you.
  8. Write a pitch for three of your manuscripts.  You can print out your pitches on 3×5 cards. If it doesn’t fit on a 3×5 index card, it’s too long. Carry two copies of each pitch with you to the conference. Put one copy in a folder and the other in your pocketbook. Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact. Memorize it. (See ten blog posts in Resources to help you get one to attract publishers and agents.
  9. Take comfortable clothing to wear in a favorite color to keep your spirits high. Take a sweater or blazer, in case the air conditioning is too cool for your inner thermostat. If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer. Jeans, shirt, and a blazer are good work attire for writers. Linda Rohrbough says that you want the editors to think you just left your computer to meet with them.
  10. Check your laptop, iPad, or other electronic word-processor. Charge its battery. Purchase a portable disc drive or flash drive or thumb drive for your laptop. Most of them are USB port compatible. Copy your full manuscripts of the Works in Progress and other pertinent information you may need for the conference.

At the Conference

1. Take notes using your new spiral notebook or composition book or take notes on your laptop or other device. When you get home, edit your notes and add information from your handouts. You can copy or scan pertinent information from the handouts into a computer.

2. Give your business card to those you meet. Ask for the business cards of those who mix and mingle with you. too. Having business cards will give you email addresses to contact these people after the conference. The more you do this, the more comfortable and natural it will be for you. Set a goal to give away 5, 10, or 15 cards.

3. Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Plan to talk to the people who sit beside you in the workshops. Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with them. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:

“What are you writing?”

“Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”

“How do you find time to write?”

“Do you write best in the morning or at night?”

4. If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:

“What is your favorite project right now?”

“How do you know when a book is right for you?”

“What’s your advice for writers?”

5.  “What kind of writing do you do?” is a perfect lead in for your pitch. When Editors, agents, and writers ask you this, hold your head high. Look the editor/agent/writer in the eye. Pretend he is your best friend and tell him your pitch. (References for writing a pitch are in references area)

6. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.

7. Get plenty of sleep.

8. Eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins to keep you alert and focused.

9. Enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can.

10. List twenty things for which you are thankful each morning before you get out of bed.

11. Thank the presenters and the organizers for what you liked about the conference. Make suggestions for improvements.

12. When you find a book that inspires you, buy it or order it from your public library.

After the Conference

1. Sleep, if you’re tired. Accept yourself and others as you are. Focus your attention on what you want. Be thankful for what you have. Be grateful for where you are. Put the fun back into your writing.

2. Read and organize your notes from each workshop. Write at least three major things you learned from each workshop. You can write down more details if you want.

3. Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.

4. After this information soaks into your mind, body, and spirit, write/revise three writing goals using the skills and information you learned. (Be patient with yourself.)

5. Writing Skill/Genre Goals

a) Read ten books in your chosen genre and three books on the craft of writing and illustrating.

b) Revise your favorite manuscript and submit it to an editor or agent on the third Friday of the month (PubSubbers).

6. Marketing Goals

a) Learn a new technology.

b) Create a blog tour for your book with other writers.

c) Join Pub Subbers Yahoo Group to encourage you to submit your manuscripts on a monthly basis.

d) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and editors on a regular basis. (See my Pub Subbers blog posts)

e) Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.

f) Prepare a proposal to present a workshop for a writing conference.

g) Prepare a pitch for a manuscript. Go from a page summary and then focus on words that hook readers. Keep shortening your pitch: 200-100-50-25 words. The ultimate goal is a pitch that is 140 characters long (approximately 25 words) that fits in Twitter. If you have all these different lengths, you will have a pitch to use in your cover letter, proposal, and for the rave blurbs for the back cover of your book. Your pitch is the magnetic tool that will entice people to buy your book.

h) Prepare a postcard, business card, bookmark, or signature for email to promote you and your writing. Use your book titles and pitch blurbs to captivate the reader’s attention.

7. Networking Goals

a) Create a website or blog.

b) Join a writer’s critique group.

c) Join or create a group of writers who will help market your blogs, books, etc.

d) Give book presentations/workshops for schools and organizations.

e) Create a Google Plus profile. 9 Reasons to Use Google Plus+

f) Create an author/illustrator page on Facebook and post news of your publishing journey.

g) Collect Images for Fun and Research – Use Pinterest.

h) Create a Twitter Account. Twitter your blog posts and your publishing news.

i) Create a TweetDeck account to organize Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In.

j) Create a Glog (Big Poster) on Glogster:

k) Visit the website of three people who gave you a business card.  Email them. Here are possible points to include in your email. Remind them of how you enjoyed talking with them. Thank them for sharing a resource. Congratulate them on their manuscript or book. Compliment them for being brave if they read their story at open mike. Thank them for giving you a new way to look at the problem.

Resources: Below are four other articles to help you get the most out of the writing conference.

  1. Kristen Lamb, “Getting the Most Out of Writing Conferences:”
  2. Margo L. Dill, “Writers Conferences: Five Reasons Why You Should Go NOW, and How to Get the Most for Your Money:”
  3. Marita Littauer, “Four Keys for Writers Conference Success:”
  4. Yvonne Russell, “Getting the Most out of the Writers’ Conference:”

Pitch Blogposts

Here are 10 of my blog posts to help you get your pitch in shape to captivate editors, agents, and readers:

Thank you for reading this SCWW blog post. I hope it leads you to have more faith in yourself and to reap the benefits of perseverance in every way imaginable.

Please leave a comment. I value your opinion.

Never Give Up

Joan Y. Edwards


Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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2 Responses to Get the Most from a SCWW Conference-Focus on What You Want by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. This is an amazing post, Joan! You’ve out-done yourself. There’s so much here that can be used at anytime, not just at a conference. You are a wonderful resource for all writers. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  2. Dear Sandra,
    Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. I am glad that you believe this is an amazing post. I added a few things. Each time I rewrite it, I add something new.that I think will help writers achieve the most from the conference. You’re right, It does have many marketing ideas in it that you can use any time.

    I hope your writing is going well.

    Never Give Up

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