What to Bring to the Conference To Maximize the Opportunities
According to SFWC Director Laurie McLean, you can leave the weighty manuscript at home or on your laptop. But do bring your pitches, first pages, a synopsis, and lots of good questions.
When you go to a writers conference, you want to show off your best work and have the right people see it. It is crucial to present your work so that people take notice. Briefly, the best things you can bring to a conference are the simplest: an intriguing pitch, a synopsis of your book, and the first chapter or short samples of your writing.
Think about it. Will an agent or editor read your entire manuscript while you are sitting next to her at lunch? Probably not! But will she be persuaded to hear you out when you knock her socks off with a well-crafted pitch for your project? You bet.
I know what literary agents are looking for because I am also the co-founder of the Fuse Literary Agency.
Here is my rather specific list of when and where you should bring some of your work to the San Francisco Writers Conference:
1. PITCH SESSIONS: Throughout the conference, there are many chances to try out your pitch and perfect it. There are multiple sessions on pitching and querying, as well as the Pitch Practice (see below) run by the Tri-Valley branch of the California Writers Club. We’ve got you covered.
2. FREE CONSULTS: Attendees can also sign up for free 8-minute consultations with an independent editor, a marketing consultant, and book coach on Friday and Saturday. Print out the first chapter of your book, along with a synopsis, for those consultations. You might not use it, but it’s good to have it in your bag.
3. PRACTICE YOUR PITCH: There is a group-safe Pitch Practice on Saturday evening sponsored by the Tri-Valley chapter of the California Writers Club where you can practice your pitch without agents or editors in the room. This is essential if you want to work on the presentation of your pitch—and it’s fun. This “cast off your jitters” session is free and only for attendees. Find out more and sign up at the Registration Area.
4. DURING THE EVENT: Should you bring synopsis, beta-reader-reviews, or pre-written queries? My answer is you can keep a few copies in your room or pop one set into your conference bag so if anyone asks to see them you can share them. I do not expect any agents or editors will want to see a beta reader review or a query (since that is what you will email an agent or editor after the conference if they ask you to send them some of your work for consideration). Some might want to hear your elevator pitch or read the first page or chapter of your novel or book proposal outside of these structured sessions. If you see agents in the hallway or at a meal and they are not surrounded by a group of eager authors, you might have a chance to talk to them then. If a member of the faculty has his or her badge on, they are open to talking to attendees. We run a very friendly conference.
Remember, the agents and editors at the conference WANT to find the next best-selling book. That is why they come to the SFWC. Nothing would make them happier than developing a long-term mutually rewarding business relationship with the author of that book. We know that is why you decided to come to the San Francisco Writers Conference too.