I'm behind with my A-Z challenge posts because I came home from work yesterday and crashed...HARD! I bet many of you understand that feeling of extreme fatigue. So, I'll be doing my M post today and N tomorrow to get back on track by Monday.
Also, a milestone to report today. I reached 100 followers yesterday! YAY! I really appreciate all of the encouragement and support I get from you all, my blog readers. Your comments mean the world to me. So, I will be having a 100 Followers Giveaway next week. Hint, Hint: it might have more than one winner (I've been known to do that!)
Okay, so my M post today is for MAKING A GREAT IMPRESSION! It's Conference Season, and I know many of you will be or are already signed-up for one. Last year, I attended three and learned a lot about what not to do to impress the agents and editors in attendance. So here are some tips to help out.
1. Dress Professionally: I don't mean three piece suits or church attire. I mean casual professional. Cute Capri's and a top or skirt and a comfortable shirt for the girls, khakis or dark jeans and a polo for guys. Maybe not those specifically, but you get my point. Something that looks good on you, makes you feel comfortable, and highlights your best features. It's like a job interview so treat it like one.
2. Bring Business Cards: A few weeks or a month before going to the conference, have some business cards printed. Vista Print is a great, fast way to get nice quality ones. Agents and Editors may not ask for them, but some do. It's easier for them to remember who they requested material from during pitch sessions. Have them on hand. But, the best reason to have them is for networking purposes with other writers you meet. I can't tell you how many connections I've made!
3. Shake the agent/editor's hand: Make sure you have a free hand to greet them during your consultations, pitch session, or just at meet and greets. I haven't met one yet who didn't shake my hand. Make sure its firm and smile. This is their first impression!
4. Don't go all FAN GIRL/BOY on them: I learned this one big time! We all follow our top agents on Twitter, Facebook, or blog. So, when you get a chance to meet them in person, stay calm. I met my dream agent at a conference recently and although I handled myself well, I think, there were moments my friend and Critique Partner had to pull me back down to Earth. Luckily, I never did anything stupid in front of her! If you're lucky like me to get a consultation or pitch with this agent, don't do all the talking. Listen to what they are telling you and only answer direct questions. Be prepared ahead of times with questions you may have because when you're seated in front them, your mind goes blank (trust me!). Don't follow them everywhere, either. I could write a whole book on this one, so I'll stop here!
5. Don't be nervous: I know, easy to say but harder to do! Agents and Editors love conferences because it's their chance to meet writers and talk about their projects. They really do want to find something amazing. Don't go in expecting to sign with someone. Some agents/editors request materials sometimes just to be nice. Read their expression and interest level to see if they are really interested. Have fun and relax. Talk passionately and professionally about your project and don't get discouraged if they don't request material. And, don't get overly excited if they do. Most agents and Editors will give you tips and feedback. Also, don't sound too rehearsed during a pitch. One wonderful agent who I met at a conference told me during dinner: Don't memorize an elevator speech to impress me. Let's have a conversation. Start with the word count and genre and tell me the logline. Then, I'll ask the questions I need to know. I did what she said and we had a great talk about my book, characters, setting (she even offered to be my beta with all the New York scenery: She ROCKED!). I could tell instantly she liked the premise of my book, gave me great advice, and requested the full manuscript. Agents don't want to be pitched as much as have a conversation about your premise. Most asked question: What happens in the climax? They want to know you have thought through your entire plot.
Conference are meant to be learning experiences. Take craft classes! Don't just go to a conference to pitch, it won't be worth the money. Go to learn and make a lasting impression! That's what I've learned.