Writers conferences come in many shapes and sizes, but after a good one, a writer walks away with a slew of notes, a bundle of new contacts, and a host of opportunities. Here are five things to do ASAP after a writers conference.
1 ~ Express appreciation: Conferences don’t present themselves and few (if any?) conference chairs are salaried positions. This year’s conference chair donated a hefty portion of his/her life planning, booking, organizing, and troubleshooting an event that involves the care, feeding, and teaching of hundreds of people. A written note, an email, a Facebook post, a tweet, a box of chocolates—the medium doesn’t matter, just send a thumbs up to the folks who brought the whole shebang together. Everyone from the conference chair to the hotel guy who set out the chairs, put on a team effort.
Equally, if you had a legitimate issue, or a helpful suggestion for next year, wait a few days and then send a polite note to the person you believe can take care of it. No need to alert the world, or bother someone over something they can’t control, but if an issue is real, the organizer will want to know.
2 ~ Keep in touch: There are a couple of ways to do this. First, all those business cards you picked up from the freebie table, a workshop, or at lunch? Spread them out on your desk.
If you’d like to continue or develop a meaningful exchange with someone, this is the time to send out a Facebook friend request, to follow on Twitter or any other social media you use. If you want to stay in touch through email, send out a note saying so. A handwritten note by post is also lovely. However you reach out, do it now.
If you shared a fabulous dinner, if someone helped out in a workshop, if you have mutual friends or writing contacts, if you spoke about their writing—jot it down on the back of the card. When you’re done, rubber band them and write the name of the conference and year. If you plan to attend next year, dig out this bundle before the conference and refresh your memory. Reviewing last year’s business cards helps you recall your good time, and people like to know they’ve been remembered. There’s nothing wrong with using a memory aid.
3 ~ Tame the paper collection. You probably have pages of scribbles and handouts. Now that your desk is cleared of business cards, cover it again with notes and handouts.
For handouts, those you took to be polite but won’t ever use? Toss ’em. No one will know. Those you want to keep, put in a file folder, binder or whatever means you use to store craft materials. Please DO NOT make copies and/or post on your blog, hand out to your critique partners, or distribute handouts unless you have permission from the workshop leader. Free distribution of the handouts, without permission, is not okay. If you want to to share with a particular group for a particular reason, send a note to the person who put together the handout. I would always say yes to sharing with a small critique group. For redistribution on a larger scale, I might say yes provided I am given credit and my name remains on the handout.
For your notepad covered with advice, tips, what to do and what not to do, quotes, names, books you should read….The longer you wait, the harder it will be to read your sloppy handwriting. Decipher it now.
4 ~ Respond to the professionals: Did you attend a kickass workshop on query writing? Listen to someone teach you how to organize your writing day? Take part in a read & critique? Get inspired by a keynote speech? Send an email expressing what helped or what you enjoyed. Be specific. As a workshop leader, I can tell you it is meaningful and helpful when someone writes and says, I really was intrigued by your tips on how to end a chapter. That tells me, hey, that worked! I need to know that for the future, and I appreciate anyone who takes the trouble to help me.
5 ~ Send requested partials, full manuscripts and so on, if requested by an agent or editor. If you had a successful pitch session or chatted with an agent who asked to see something from you….well, I probably don’t need to put out a reminder on this one, do I?
Tomorrow’s Topic – How To Use an Ellipsis Versus a Dash