Participating: Kitty, Susan, Cynthia, Dave. They've been invited to combined total of 10 of these spectacular Conferences. (Kitty's also served as a Mentor, twice.)
Susan: Plan your networking. Find the list of Mentors posted on the Conference website.
Dave: Then research who and what they've published. Using Publishers Marketplace, you can go back five years or more and see every book and writer they worked with. This lets you focus on the Mentors most appropriate for you.
Susan: From that, create a target list of Mentors you want face time with.
Kitty: Write questions down in advance so you don't forget any.
Dave: Make two lists. First, questions about your ms and anything else you want to discuss with your Mentor. You'll use this list for the 1-on-1 critique. Second list: questions relevant to the writing business, for the 5-on-5 roundtable session.
Susan: Know your lines. Memorize your one-sentence author bio and your one-sentence elevator pitch(es). Practice out loud until they trip off your tongue.
Dave: Bring your own business cards. You'll pass them out to other writers. This is a perfect chance to network, make contacts, and make your name known.
Kitty's ABC: Always Be ready to ask for a CARD. (Jot notes on each card—e.g. "looking for MG or YA"—and build a file of editors and agents)
Cynthia: For the overall Conference--be bold. You don't have to prove to people that you're a good writer--they know that already. Don't hesitate to buttonhole any Mentors you're interested in. Give each a very short elevator pitch, and ask for their card.
Dave: Feel completely welcome to approach any Mentor. They've all come to this Conference to find writers.
Susan: Don't socialize at Registration. Well, do—but not until you check your folder to (1) identify your Mentor; (2) identify which additional Mentors will be part of your 5-on-5; (3) cross those names off your Target list (because you're guaranteed face time with them); (4) reread the schedule so you have a clear idea of the shape of the day.
Now you can relax and mingle with the other writers.
Cynthia: In your 1-on-1 critique, be receptive and have the right kind of expectations. Don't expect your Mentor to offer you a contract--or even to ask you to revise and submit to them. Do expect to learn a lot from them.
There's a good chance your Mentor doesn't handle the kind of stuff you write. My first Mentor was a fellow writer; my second a fabulous editor who didn't edit the type of ms I'd sent in. But both were great writers/editors, and we really delved into my ms. I was amazed at what I learned in that short amount of time.
Susan: Don't eat lunch. At least, don't waste time standing in the long buffet line. Chomp a handful of almonds to stay the pangs, and "work" the line. It'll be full of Mentors. Grab your sandwich once the line's gone.
Dave: However, I was surprised to find that because of the sheer numbers of Mentors present, you'll have plenty of time to approach. And don't be surprised to see a Mentor sitting alone.
Susan: But the coach does turn into a pumpkin! The Conference ends rather abruptly, and most Mentors disappear like so many Cinderellas, running for the train back to Manhattan. So don't expect leisurely networking at the end of the day.
(However, if you lodge in a Manhattan hotel, like Kitty usually did, you can ride the same train. Kitty has done lots of networking on trains.)
Kitty: Wear comfortable clothes, it's a long, long day.
Kitty: If someone answered a question or helped you with a block take time and send them a personal thank you.
Susan: Thank the dedicated and hard-working Conference staff, too.