Everybody who's ever attended a big conference knows that the week before is a lost cause for work. Why?
One word. Shopping.
Second word. Pitching.
And now I'm going to throw a third word at you. Schedule.
I confess to having shopped last week. I couldn't focus to write so I knew I had to get out there and buy some clothes.
I had 3 lovely dresses to wear during the day. But I had nothing for the booksigning...or evenings. (Or traveling to and from the conference itself.)
Lots of us forget that we won't want to wear the dress we've been wearing all day in the evening and they won't let us in the bar in our pj's. So bring capris and a T. Or jeans and a cute top. Or bring capris and jeans because you're going to want to be in the bar (or relaxing with friends) on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Pitching is a whole different matter. I'm not pitching this year. Actually I haven't pitched for many, many years. But lots of my friends do. So, shrink your story into one paragraph.
Who is the hero and what does he want?
Who is the heroine and what does she want?
Why is this trouble?
How do they grow (what do they learn) to have a happy ending.
Write that out a couple of different ways. Find a way to make your one paragraph really interesting, or fun, or dynamic so the editor or agent can't resist it.
Practice it enough that you're enthusiastic when you talk about it. Let your passion for the story show through. (I once had an editor ask for a proposal based simply on the fact that she said I glowed when I talked about the series.) Passion is important!
Do it now. Do not wait until you are in your room at Nationals, trying to figure out where you're going and who you'd like to eat breakfast with.
Get the workshop and event schedule off the RWA site. Figure out which workshops you want to attend. Figure out what your free time spots are. Email your pals now and ask them to meet you in the banquet/ball rooms for the lunches. Email the people you want to see for breakfast and dinner NOW. DO NOT WAIT. They will be booked.
If you don't have friends, don't sweat it. There will be plenty of people networking. They will be glad to take the empty seat beside you at the table at lunch. Or if you chit chat with someone at a workshop and discover you have a lot in common, ask if they'd like to eat dinner with you. DO NOT BE SHY. (LOL) Lots of people are looking for someone to eat with or spend the evening with. If you share the same intersts and think you'd enjoy their company for dinner...ask.
Being anal retentive, I will be making a spreadsheet of my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, meetings, parties, and the workshops I want to attend. You might not have to go that far, but you do want to have a list.
So shop -- not just with days' events in mind, but also evenings. (And don't forget clothes for travel...remember everybody will be standing in the hotel lobby when you arrive. You do not want to look like a schleb.)
Write a one-paragraph pitch. Practice it. But make sure your delivery demonstrates your passion for the story.
Call your friends now to set up breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Make a schedule.
And one more thing...Go to the workshop I'm doing with Hotcakes Pals, Deb Mullins and Jenna Kernan. We're giving away 3 great gift cards. One to Starbucks. One to Staples. And one to a bookstore. (Shame on me. I can't remember which bookstore!)
If you see ME in the hall...say hello!