When I signed up in March, it felt like it was ages in the future, but now the NJ SCBWI conference is only two and a half weeks away!
Sometimes, I sign up so far in advance for a writing conference, it’s easy to forget about it until it’s almost on top of me. But to get the most out of my conference, I know I need to be prepared. This is more than polishing the manuscript(s) one final time. Even if the manuscripts aren't what the editors and agents are looking for, I know I can have a "successful" conference.
- The first part of my preparation was to be sure I met all the deadlines for manuscript submissions. The editors, agents and authors who are doing the critiques at these venues are busy people. The deadlines are there for a reason, to allow them to give the proper attention to everyone’s work. I don't want to be memorable for all the wrong reasons-- begging for an exception to the deadline. And while the workshops are wonderful, the personal feedback from individual critiques is invaluable. I want to take advantage of every opportunity!
- I signed up to do peer critiques at the conference, so I’m doing them now! The peer review time is a great opportunity to meet other conferees in a relaxed setting and I don’t want to ruin it for everyone else by showing up unprepared. It's easy for life to throw unexpected curve balls my way, I'm going to have these beauties done and in my file ready to go before this weekend.
- My business cards are up-to-date, so I don't have to run out, or jump online to order more. While I don't think they're "necessary," they're nice to have if anyone asks.
- What’s next on my list? Later this week I plan to review the names of the workshop leaders. In the internet age, there’s no excuse to show up not knowing anything about the presenters. I had a choice of workshops and chose the slots I did for a reason. But it’s been two months since I made those choices. I need to take a moment to review why I wanted to attend each and write down the goal I hope to achieve (in the future, I'm going to try to remember to do this when I sign up!). Was it just getting to meet a particular person? Is it learning about an area of the craft that I felt weak in? Perhaps I wanted to ask a specific question? I know I have to write it down--now! It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the frenetic pace of the actual event and forget to do the one thing I wanted to do—yup, that’s my voice of experience with a been there/done that, (“forgot that”) moment.
Conferences are a big investment of time and money. Next week, Part 2 will cover the "final" preparations.
If you have conference advice you want to share below, I'd love to hear it!