Sunday, March 14, 2010

Conference FAQs

For every one person who picks up the phone to ask a question there are usually several others who'd like to know the same thing but didn't ask. So for your information as you prepare for the conference, here are the answers to this year's Most Frequently Asked Questions. Even if you didn't think you had a question, read on—we have a few surprises in store!

1. I’m coming into town early for the James Frey workshop. Anything going on Thursday night?

Yes. From 7:30–9:30 pm GLVWG Writers Café chair Bart Palamaro will lead a “Writer’s Café: Conference Edition” at the hotel in Salon C. This event is free and open to any pre-conference workshopper, GLVWG member, or conferee, so if you’re in the hotel or live locally, come on over! Bart will start off the conversation but the event is informal by design. If you want to meet some fellow conferees for stimulating discussion, join us. And if you want to practice your pitch, bring it along and we’ll provide feedback.

2. Last year, getting Friday dinner at the hotel restaurant between the pre-conference workshop and Page Cuts was a nightmare. Do you have any new plans?

We complained and the new Four Points chef has responded: she will offer a buffet meal in the restaurant that night so people who must fit in their meal between James Frey’s workshop (which ends at 5 pm) and Page Cuts (which begins at 6:30) should have no trouble serving themselves, eating, and paying the fixed price of $16.96 (includes tax and gratuity) before their next event. Here’s the menu:

Garden Salad
Pasta Salad
Almond Crusted Chicken with Honey Dijon Cream Sauce
Herb Roasted Loin of Pork with Demi Glace
Broiled Tilapia with Citrus Chive Sauce
Fresh Seasonal Veggies
Roasted Potatoes
Assorted Dessert Display
Soda, Iced Tea, Coffee & Hot Tea

3. I have special food needs. Can the conference accommodate them?

The conference can’t, but the hotel will. We know because a few people have already done this: just call 610-266-1000 as soon as possible and ask to speak to the chef; she will try to accommodate your needs. Our hot lunch on Saturday will be the “Taste of Italy” buffet, so you can be pretty sure that tomato and gluten allergies will need a work-around. We will have vegetarian choices.

4. I am so disappointed I didn’t get into a Page Cuts session. Is anything else going on Friday evening for those of us left out in the cold?

Yes there is! Agent Kim Lionetti will be sharing from her long experience as agent and editor in “Pitching Do’s and Don’ts,” which will be held from 7-8 pm in Salon B. This is an open session.

But there's more! After that, while we wait for the Page Cuts sessions to conclude and the welcome reception to be set up, there is no longer a reason to stand wedged like sardines in the back hallway. Instead, stretch your legs—we’re going to have a literary scavenger hunt throughout the hotel! You can thank co-chair Tammy Burke for this fun idea (but not during the event, because she'll be stuck in a Page Cuts room). Those who complete the tasks will throw their names into a hat for the grand prize: a set of James Frey books—signed, of course! If you can’t make Kim’s session but get to the hotel by 8 pm, stop into Salon B, where President Tori Bond will explain the rules and send you on your way!

We hope that eases the sting of that Page Cut. Next year, sign up earlier! Early registration is key to gaining entry to limited registration events.

5. I want to enter the flash contest. Where do I send my submission?

Please review the Flash Contest rules. Do not mail in your submission—just bring it along and hand it in between 6-8:30 pm at the Friday registration desk, or any time between 7:30-8:30 am Saturday at the Flash Contest table in the back hallway. Don't forget: large font as per the guidelines; names and genre (F, NF, Poetry) on the back.

6. How will I know when my agent appointment will be?

You'll get your specific appointment time in your registration packet. Plan to arrive at the Four Points Sheraton early enough to look these materials over.

7. If extra agent/editor appointments remain, can I sign up for more than the one I already have?

Yes. Beginning at 7:30 am Saturday morning—please, not before—check with Oli at the registration desk to see what opportunity exists.

8. My appointment with agent Evan Goldfried was rescheduled to Friday. Will conference registration be open before my appointment time?

Possibly not. If your appointment time precedes the opening of registration at 6 pm Friday, don’t worry about it. Check the location of Evan’s meetings on the flyer at the registration desk and go straight to that room a good five minutes early. Check in with usher Dave Craft and he’ll let you in. All you need is a valid driver’s license, social security card, two credit cards, a personal reference… (hope you know we’re kidding!).

Another word about registration: conference registration opens at 6 pm Friday night and runs through 8:30 pm. If you are attending Friday evening activities (Page Cuts, Pitching Do’s and Don’ts, the welcome reception) please register first and get your packet. Inside you’ll find your nametag, which must be worn throughout the conference. If you don’t plan to arrive until Saturday, pick up your registration packet between 7:30-8:30 am.

Pre-conference workshoppers will use a sticky name tag, which you’ll receive when you check in each morning at the table inside Salon C.

9. I volunteered for the conference but I can’t remember what I signed up for—help!

If you signed up to volunteer at this year’s conference, THANK YOU! It takes a large team to put on a conference, and we appreciate your help. A green volunteer sheet with your assignment on it can be found in your registration packet. Any questions, now or on the day of the conference, call Kathryn’s cell 610-653-5037.

10. This will be my first time at the conference. Do I have to sign up for the Saturday sessions?

Any Saturday advanced registration sessions (“Start a Fire on Page One,” agent/publisher appointments, David Wilk appointments) to which you have successfully attained access will be reflected on a sheet included in your registration packet. These sessions are full and will be grayed out on the room map you’ll find in your registration packet. All other sessions are open, and you may pick and choose as you see fit.

11. This may sound dumb, but what should I wear?

This is actually a very good question, since conference dressing is more art than science. If you are pitching your manuscript or proposal to an agent or publisher, you can’t go wrong with “business casual.” Clean and pressed—yes; over-eager—no; professional yet confidently relaxed and "I too could be on Oprah" is the image you might seek. That said, if your book requires you to project a certain image, go ahead and do it (it might be hard to evoke confidence in your platform if you pitch your proposal on the hardcore rock scene in an Izod shirt and pleated khakis).

We also suggest dressing in layers, since heating a large ballroom space is also an art, and one that does not readily respond to our desires to change it. Over the course of the conference day you might experience anything from blazing heat to arctic frost, so be prepared.

12. I've never pitched to an agent or editor before. Should I bring the manuscript with me?

You wouldn't be the first person to do so, but it's not considered proper. Think of it this way:

Let's say you are an agent who has worked a long day in NYC and then hopped a bus for the two-hour ride to Allentown, PA. You are scheduled to meet with 15 people the next day, and the projects are so intriguing you've asked to see a dozen of them. Then there are those six extras you requested after informal pitches at the party. After your last appointment you have only fifteen minutes to grab your luggage and catch a hotel shuttle bus back to the Trans-Bridge terminal for the ride back to New York, where you must then catch a cab or the subway to your apartment. DO YOU WANT TO BE LUGGING 18 MANUSCRIPTS?

Etiquette says you should not bring your manuscript to the conference. It would be rare for an agent to request the whole thing anyway; for his or her convenience you should mail or e-mail any requested sample pages/chapters after the conference. (Tip: Always mark snail-mailed submissions as "REQUESTED MATERIALS" so they get a quicker reading.) If you would like to send the agent home with a memento of your meeting, a business card with the name of your project on it (with a two-or three sentence synopsis on the back as a reminder, if you like) is enough.

Have further questions? Leave them here as a comment and we’ll address them.

The Write Stuff 2010 conference is now fully sold out and registration is closed. We can accept no walk-in registrations. Thank you all for your interest! 

Our final pre-conference blog posts, a two-part interview with veteran novelist Molly Cochran, will run later this week. 

Days to conference: 12. Can’t wait to see you!


  1. A most useful post. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. I volunteered my book as a door prize. Do you want a short synopsis of the book and a cover jpg. Also I agreed to sign it for the winner, so if you let me know how you will be proceeding with this, I would appreciate it.
    Lastly, I had received an e mail a while back about having my book for sale at Moravian. Although Moravian did not agree,the final result was that I would have the book for sale on a different table, but since this is my first time at the conference, I am unsure how that works and how many books I should bring - or I may have totally misconstrued or mis understood the process.
    Positively last question. I agreed some time ago to be a signer. Will you be letting me know about the timing of this and the couple of items I mentioned above?

    Thank you

    Jeffrey Allen

  3. I'll answer those questions here, Jeff, since other authors may have the same questions. First, thank you for donating a book for a door prize! The book itself will be sufficient. If you could turn it in at the registration desk Saturday morning we'll make a display basket with all the door prizes in it. The prizes will be handed out during the social at the end of the day, and the winner can come to you to get it signed.

    Which leads me to your next question. Any author who has signed up to either sell their own books or sign books Moravian is selling should report to Salon A at 3:30 pm. The hotel staff will open the salon dividers and will have set up rectangular tables around Salon A's perimeter. We will seat three authors behind each table. Your contact in that room will be Fern Hill; she'll assign you a seat and hand you a name placard.

    Those selling their own books can display them on the table before you, and people can cruise this perimeter to check out/purchase/get books signed--including the door prize winner. Don't forget to bring your own cash to make change. The book fair/signing event lasts from 3:30-5 pm.