Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Write Stuff Checklist/What do you write?

by Kathryn Craft

It's been a year in the making but now that it's almost here, it's hard to believe we're now accepting our final few registrations. Just one month from today, the 2011 Write Stuff conference will be over!

As you prepare your personal countdown to The Write Stuff, here's a handy checklist you can use. If you have other ideas, feel free to add them in the comment section.

Ahead of time:
1. Make Final Quick Fixes to your manuscript (we writers are never done fiddling!).
2. Choose desired sessions to free up networking time on site.
3. Research your agent or editor (check previous blog posts for additional links and info).
4. Write/rehearse pitch if meeting with an agent or editor.
5. Write 100-word flash contest entries (fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction).
6. Make business cards (some authors put their title and brief pitch on the back).
7. Contact Tammy to donate a raffle book.
8. Figure out your “brand” (see explanation, below).
9. Moderators: write intros.
10. Ask Tammy: How can I help?

1. Business cards.
2. Query letter, if desired (some agents are actually relieved to be able to read your pitch).
3. Flash Contest entries (14-20 pt font, name/category on back).
4. Bring any giveaway table items (book marks, flyers, brochures for writing-related services).
5. Maass/Rector workshops only: full manuscript, either printed out or on laptop.
6. Page Cuts: Bring print-outs of 4 first pages, 4 (100-word) synopses.
7. Questions.
8. Your A-game!

At conference:
1. Try out pitch at informal Thursday Writer’s CafĂ©.
2. Moderators: introduce yourself to the speaker you'll introduce at the cocktail party.
3. Dress nicely (business casual), in layers to accommodate a range of room temperatures.
4. Drop off flash entries before 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
5. Drop off giveaway table/raffle items.
6. Ask everyone you meet: What do you write?

Sometimes the networking you can accomplish with other writers is the most valuable long term take-away from the conference. When Linda Glaser of Ithaca, NY decided to try out our conference in 2005, she volunteered to help us accomplish some last-minute tasks—and after a post-conference manuscript swap, I found not only a friend, but a writing partner perfectly suited to my work and style. We've been swapping ever since.

Keep in mind that if you're going to ask everyone you meet what they write, you have to be prepared to answer the same question. But coming up with your personal brand isn't always easy. Many of us have a variety of genre interests. How do you succinctly describe what it is you write?

In the March/April 2011 issue of Writers Digest magazine, writer Gigi Rosenberg cites an exercise included in Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor:
Long advises writers to make a chronological "List of Works," starting with the very first poem, essay, novel or other piece you ever wrote. You only need to have completed a first draft of the work to qualify for the list.
Rosenberg says that when she did this assignment, she discovered that her 14-year-old, 21-year-old, and 35-year-old selves had all been exploring the same themes and concerns throughout her life. It sounds like a great approach, and reminds me of something bestselling romance author Shirley Jump told us at a GLVWG meeting many years ago. Shirley shared how excited she got when some of her writing friends helped her realize that she wrote "sweet romantic comedies." She had never thought of herself as particularly funny, but the description felt right. Suddenly, Shirley told us, it was so much easier to describe her work to others! It also helped her stay on track in her career as an author, even while occasionally genre-hopping.

So with your checklist now in hand, I look forward to seeing all of you fully prepared writers at the conference. And when we meet at the Four Points Sheraton, I'm pretty sure you can guess what I'm going to ask you!

Countdown to The Write Stuff: 23 days!!!

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