Networking Before and After a Conference

By Ellen J. List

Preparing Projects

1. Make sure all proposals are in topnotch form, as fine-tuned as possible

2. For works in early stages, make outlines in lieu of proposals.

3. Make a "Projects Sheet listing all current projects. First state your qualifications for writing these projects. Then write a catchy paragraph about each project or idea. Include market, status, and time needed for completion.

4. Take advantage of conference critique services (advance mailing required). Usually two kinds are offered: Published authors or freelance editors provide a line-by-line critique of grammar, flow, etc. Publishing house editors or agents critique for a business fit, whether or not the idea fits their publishing goals. If it comes close, they may suggest changes or request the manuscript.

Preparing to Meet Editors

5. Study the list of editors in the conference brochure.

6. Check Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide for mission statements and Web site addresses. Make note of each publisher's needs/goals. Evaluate which of your projects fit into its publishing box.

7. Make a spreadsheet titled "Editors to See." In the left column, list the editor's name and publishing house. In the top row, list each of your projects. Mark which projects fit editors' needs. During the conference, use the grid to make notes, e.g., changes suggested, proposal requested, and new ideas sparked.

8. Make a second tracking spreadsheet for use after the conference. In the left column, list the publishing house and editor's name. Label the tops of four more columns as proposals are sent/date, to committee/date, results/date, deadline.

At the Conference

9. Make individual appointments with editors or agents (unless they are obvious mismatches), starting with the best match. Be aware that appointments fill up fast, and you may be limited to only two or three.

10. Share your "projects Sheet": with the editor or agent.

11. If projects are not a perfect match, ask if any could be adapted to meet that house's needs.

12. Sign up with other writers who offer appointments. Established author recommendations can be invaluable resources to editors and agents looking for fresh ideas and new talent.

Ellen J. List is a conference teacher as well as an award-winning author with her by-line appearing in both Christian and general publications including: The Christian Communicator, The Evangelical Christian Publishers' Association's Website, Penned from the Heart (a yearly devotional book), Alberta Ferret Society (Canada), Porsche Club of America, and daily newspapers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. She has expanded this article into a class which she teaches at writers conferences and for writers groups. Ellen can be reached at:

See more of her material at: Six Ways Not to Network and Networking: The Writers' Conference Edge