It’s never too early to start. In fact, if you’re writing you’re getting ready. But, according to “Flame to the moth,” the latest article by associate editor Meredith Quinn of The Writer magazine, agents Mark Gottlieb and Lane Heymont suggest you consider these “must-bring” items:
“Gottlieb: Pen, paper and one’s inner-muse.
Heymont: Business cards, professional attire (business casual works), a submission-ready manuscript and your A-game.”
Heymont’s reference to your game is an important one. In other words, be professional, show confidence but not cockiness. You should know your own work inside and out; able to answer any question quickly and succinctly. Have that 30-second elevator pitch down. The proposed cover blurb (short synopsis) should be tighter than the lug-nuts on your vehicle; ditch any word not needed.
That prep should also include donning a positive attitude and maintaining it not only for the benefit of your colleagues in attendance but for your own future as an author.
If, at the end of a pitch, the agent, editor, or publisher takes a pass, accept it graciously. Thank them for their time, tuck any suggestions they’ve made for improvement into your brain for rewrites (consider Gottlieb’s inner-muse reference), and leave with a smile on your face. After all, the conference is most likely still in gear; you don’t want to spend the remainder of the event trying to avoid him or her. And, you certainly don’t want the other agents to hear you pouted, or got angry and became sullen. The publishing community is smaller than you may think, and word spreads – especially within the confines of a conference.
A conference should be a wonderful, free exchange of creative energy and ideas. Prepare. Then prepare to enjoy.