Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
As usual, I’ve got a smattering of ideas…
How to Promote Yourself at a Writer’s Conference
1) Go all-out with brand. So let’s say your brand involves wearing purple shoes…that’s how people are going to remember you, and it’s fitting, since you write romantic comedy. All your materials (your business cards, one-sheets, web addresses, web sites) should support this brand. This is because people aren’t going to come away from the conference, thinking I really liked Halee Matthews. They’re going to think, I really liked that writer with the purple shoes. And they’ll dig through their stack of cards/one-sheets/odds and ends LOOKING for those purple shoes. If they don’t see them, you’ll disappear.
2) Meet people. As writers, it’s easy to latch on to one or two people at a conference and call it a day. That’s because most of us are introverts. But if you’re serious about getting people on board with your writing (whether you’re published or unpublished), you need to branch out. Sit at a different table every meal. Form relationships with the people sitting next to you in workshops. Attend the parties and the late-night gatherings. It will be exhausting, but it’s exactly what you need to do to spread awareness.
3) Talk about yourself. I don’t mean force people to listen to your book premise or your publishing history. I’m just talking about having some rehearsed and appropriate ways of bringing your book up in conversation.
The important thing to remember here, is not everyone is going to be an ideal fit for your book. And that’s okay. Your job is to be able to identify when you’ve found someone who IS a fit. Then, casually bring your book up in conversation so that they’re aware. If you’re published, this could result in more sales at the conference bookstore. If you’re unpublished, it could result in people wanting to test read your chapters or be your critique partner. You have to be careful what you agree to, but in my opinion, it’s always a good idea to feed words to people who believe in what you write.
4) Make a great impression among faculty. Most authors make a point to meet the visiting editors and agents at a conference, but they tend to go about it the wrong way. The natural inclination is either to give the faculty their space (because you rightly assume that they’re constantly bombarded and need a break), or to introduce yourself and then talk about your book or your career or your experience. Neither of these are the way to go.
Do you know how exhausting it is to talk about everyone else’s dreams? Goals? Books? Careers? I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have an attendee ask me about myself. How I got into the business? What I read in my spare time? Whether I write? Focusing the conversation on the faculty rather than on yourself, is a great way to make a good impression. And you’ll also find that most of them will end up asking you those questions you’ve been dying to hear, such as “so what’s your book about?”
5) Strategize your time. Do your research. Know which agents and editors focus on your genre. Figure out which workshops will be filled with people most likely to be interested in your book. Targeting the right events and people can make a world of difference when trying to promote yourself at a conference.
That’s all I have for today…what are YOUR ideas? How do you rise above the hundreds of writers at a conference and come away with fans, supporters and even some industry contacts?