By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills
The Blue Ridge Conference is fast approaching, and writers are polishing their manuscripts and proposals One of the conference highlights is the ability for the writer to schedule two face-to-face appointments with an agent, editor, or professional writer. We want that event to be a positive experience for you.
Over the years, I’ve collected a list of tips to help every writer make the most of these valuable appointments. These are from my point of view as the professional who sits across the table from the writer.
- Approach the appointment with good hygiene. Nothing diminishes a new writer faster than bad breath, body odor, or soiled clothes.
- Introduce yourself by saying your name clearly and distinctly. Reach out and shake the person’s hand.
- Smile and have good eye contact. We expect a writer to feel nervous, and we’d rather have a shaky smile than a frown. A writer’s smile is her calling card, paving the way to professionalism.
- Present your business card to the professional across the table. A business card is a means of keeping your information fresh in front of the person across the table—long after the conference is over. Create a simple card with your name, address, e-mail, website, and phone number. For the new writer, avoid a tagline until you have more experience under your belt. A headshot is a great idea, especially one that is fairly recent. Our own photographer extraordinare Mary Denman will be taking headshots at the conference. Perhaps it’s time for you to update your photo.
- Be prepared with an elevator pitch. This phrase grew out of a new writer entering an elevator and finding herself alone with her favorite agent or editor. The question is posed, “So what do you write?” The elevator door closes and the writer has approximately thirty seconds to launch her writing project. If this were you, wouldn’t you want to be prepared? I suggest writing out your pitch, perfect it, and practice in front of the mirror. Begin with your name, the title of the writing project, and the genre. Writers, just like you, are on our Facebook page and are willing to critique your pitch.
- Create a one-sheet for the appointment. While these reminders of the writer and his/her project are designed with a flair, refrain from making them busy, cutesy, or overloaded with text and images. I suggest using the elevator pitch on the one-sheet.
- Answer questions to the best of your ability. An “I don’t know” isn’t acceptable. But, “I’ll be sure to research the question and get back to you” shows the writer has initiative.
- Avoid . . . negative remarks about yourself.
- Discuss only one project. Too many ideas tend to be confusing. Unless the reason for the appointment is the writer seeks guidance about various projects.
- Thank the person for taking the time with you.
While I could list negative items here, I’ll use only one word to describe how not to conduct the appointment: unprofessional.
Next week, I’ll give you tips on how to ensure lunch and dinner times become perfect opportunities to make a valuable impression on faculty members.
How can we help you make your writer’s conference a success?
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.