The overriding idea was simple: preparation is key. You don't just show up, you have to know why you're going, what you hope to accomplish. A clear game plan makes all the difference.
While protocol means I can't reveal everything that was presented, I can pass along my take on a few of the suggestions given by agent Rachelle Gardner and media pro Thomas Umstattd, Jr.:
1. Research - Find out everything you can about the faculty. Check out blogs, websites, twitter, Facebook, etc. This is especially important if you've got a meeting set up with an agent or editor. You won't feel like you're sitting across from a stranger and they'll appreciate the effort you made.
2. Prepare your pitch - Know how you'll answer when someone asks, "What are you writing?" Memorize a five-second pitch, a twenty-second pitch, a two-minute pitch. And practice, practice, practice! Don't limit yourself to friends and family, either. I'm going to start pitching to the grocery clerks who load bags in my car.
3. Bring multiple book ideas - These don't have to be finished projects, but having more than one book in mind shows you're serious about a career.
4. Invest in professional business cards - No homemade, perforated card stock. White background is best. Though some authors use both sides for info, Ms. Gardner suggested keeping the back blank or perhaps inserting a tiny snippet, such as Notes about [your name]. Clever!
5. Always ask if an agent or editor wants your material(s) - You may think it's nothing to hand over a business card--it's small, right? But whether it's a card, a one-sheet, or sample pages, you need to ask first. It's a professional courtesy, pure and simple.
Ms. Gardner has 10 "teaser" tips at her website:
If you weren't able to make it to the webinar, hop on over to Author Media. There should be information about buying a recording of the webinar soon: http://www.authormedia.com/how-to-win-agents-and-influence-editors-at-a-writers-conference-webinar/