Conference Challenge #8: Prepare for a Sucessful Challenge!

Happy Wednesday, everyone, time for our final Conference Challenge, woo-HOO!

Okay. Perhaps this might be taking the easy way out, seeing as how we’ve used the same final challenge for the past … oh, what, four conferences? But Susan and I like to view it as being traditional. Tradition is good, right? I’m pretending you said yes, so once again, your last challenge is easy but necessary for all conference attendees:  Spending at least thirty minutes preparing for a successful conference!

Is this your first conference?

Awesome! We’re so happy you’re taking a major step to better your career. Refer to our Conference Critique Workshop #4 post that has general tips. I always prepare by:

  1. Printing business cards. Nothing fancy, just your name, phone number, and email address on standard business card paper from Staples is fine! You never know who you’ll meet and business cards are a lot easier than scribbling on scrap paper. :)
  2. Previewing books that our presenting editors and agents have represented in order to get a better feel of their tastes.
  3. Printing directions to The Claggett Center or loading the GPS now rather than waiting until Saturday morning when you’re already late! (Been there, done that.)
  4. And reviewing the schedule to decide which breakout sessions you’d like to attend.

Are you ready to get your Twitter on?

No? Then be sure to refer to our previous post by Tracey Gold: 5 Ways Writers and Illustrators Can Use Twitter, Plus #Lucky13  to get the scoop on Twitter and learn how to interact with other attendees by using #Lucky13 in all your conference tweets!

Are you interesting in signing up for a critique group but don’t know how?

No worries, just refer back to our post by critique coordinator, Shelley Koons for all the details.

Did you get an email with last-minute conference details?

Everyone who is registered should have received one. Make sure you read it for important bits of information!

Have you paid for a critique?

Then refer to the same above Workshop #4: Surviving your first critique and prepare by:

  1. Printing a copy of your manuscript so you can follow along without having to crane your neck to read your reviewer’s copy.
  2. Making a list of specific questions about your manuscript or publishing in general so you’ll be ready if there’s any spare time and you’ll get the most for your money!
  3. And for a bonus: Memorizing a short, intriguing pitch for the manuscript you’re having reviewed and any others. That way, if an editor or agent asks, “Tell me about your story,” or “What else are you working on,” you won’t become all deer in headlights, and mumble, “Um . . . it’s, ah . . . you know, about a girl.” Again. Been there, done that.

Don’t have a pitch for your manuscript?

No worries, you still have time. Check out our Workshop #5: Perfecting Your Book Pitch post for tips!

Are you going to participate in the First Page/First Looks session?

If your answer is no, then seriously reconsider. They are AWESOME! And if you’re lucky enough to have your page selected, where else will you get the chance to receive instant feedback from the pros . . . for free??

If you are participating, then now is the time to spit-shine and polish the sucker. For some tips, refer to Workshop #1: Opening Lines,  Workshop #2: Amazing First Pages and to be sure your submission is formatted correctly, Workshop #3: Formatting.

Once it’s ready, be sure to follow these guidelines from the SCBWI MD/DE/WV website:

For manuscripts, bring four copies of the first page of your manuscript, strictly limited to 200 words. Do not include your name, but do include the working title of the manuscript. Indicate the genre: picture book (PB), middle grade (MG), or young adult (YA). We will break into genre groups. Deposit your paper-clipped pages at the registration table on Sunday morning. One submission per attendee only.

 Illustrators, you’ve already finished your work, since the deadline for submissions was September 9th. All you have to do now is show up!

And might I offer one suggestion for participants? While your submission is being read, have a friend or neighbor jot down notes along with you so nothing is missed. In the past, I became so overwhelmed while my first page was being critiqued that afterwards, I was like, “Huh? What did they just say?”

Have you been taking your vitamins?

Seriously. No fooling with this one. Have you?

Anyone who’s been to a two-day conference knows that they can be very, very tiring. Sometimes by the end of Sunday, I’m in serious information overload  and my brain feels like total mush on the drive home.

Some ways to prevent this is to drink plenty of water, step outside for fresh air whenever you need a break, bring some healthy snacks if muffins and cookies puts you to sleep, wear comfortable shoes (yeah, right, like I ever listen to that advice,) and take your vitamins! Your brain will thank me come Monday morning when you are inspired, pumped, and ready to write or draw. 🙂

Have you read all our pre-conference interviews? If not, here they are again:

Marie Lamba, Associate Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Lesléa Newman, Author of many children and adult books

Dr. Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Author/Co-author of picture and nonfiction books

Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor at Scholastic

Jessica Garrison, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers

Rebecca Evans, Illustrator

Susan Stockdale, Author and Illustrator

Chris Crutcher, Keynote Speaker

Laura Whittaker, Associate Editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Tim Young, Illustrator

Floyd Cooper, Author and Illustrator

Have you missed our previous challenges and still want to be entered in the drawing for our giveaway basket?

No worries, you still have time to catch up, but our deadline is Friday and you must leave a comment on each challenge post that you’ve completed for your entry to count.  And for motivation, here’s the yummy arcs I scored at the BEA that are going in the baskets, along with other goodies:


It’s not too late to start! Just follow the links:

Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

Challenge #2: Victimize a Villain

Challenge #3: Conflict–Can’t live with it, can’t write without it

Challenge #4: Give yourself a job review

Challenge #5: Introducing Your Main Character

Challenge #6: Laughter Through Tears

Challenge #7: It was a day like any other … then it wasn’t

Do you have any other questions?

Please feel free to leave it in the comments section below and if I don’t have the answer – I’ll find someone who does.

Have a great week, and an even better conference!

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Conference Tips, Writing & Drawing Exercises. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Conference Challenge #8: Prepare for a Sucessful Challenge!

  1. Summer B says:

    Done! Yay. I swore I’d do them all when I attended the last conference and I completed my goal *patting myself on the back and rewarding myself with a hersheys kiss*.

    Thank you for great and truly helpful challenges.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Awesome, awesome, AWESOME JOB, Summer, way to earn that chocolate and ROCK STAR status! We appreciate you participating and we hope you (and everyone who participates!) have benefitted from them. See you at the conference! 🙂

      Oh, and what’s your last name so we don’t have to introduce you as Summer B?

  2. Business Cards … check
    Directions in the phone … check
    Pre-conference interviews read … check
    Book pitch … check
    Schedule looked over, break out sessions selected … check
    Reviewed last minute details … check (Sorry about Leslea … I love her!)
    Clothes packed … okay, I’m still working on this one.


    See you on Saturday … melissa

    • Laura Bowers says:

      FANTASTIC JOB, Melissa, you’re now officially a ROCK STAR, woo-HOO! 🙂 Thanks for participating in our final eight-week challenge, we really appreciate it! See you at the conference! 🙂

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