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Monday, October 8, 2012

Rutgers Revisited

by Marcy Collier

Last year about this time, my insides were filled with collywobbles (see Andrea’s post on 10/5/12 for the definition). Last year I had attended the Rutgers One-On-One-Plus Conference for the first time. Many of the Route 19ers had attended or taught at past conferences and gave me all kinds of tips to ease my nervousness.

Fast forward to October 2012, and I was accepted for a second year to the conference. I was extremely excited and still a bit nervous, but a least I knew what to expect this year. For those of you who are attending, I wanted to add my advice and re-post the article that helped me tremendously last year to get ready for conference day.

Here are my thoughts: 
Go back through the mentor list posted on the Rutgers website http://www.ruccl.org/mentors_2012.html. Sometimes additions are made to the mentor list. Write down the top ten people you’re most interested in meeting. Put stars by the top three. 

I’m sort of a shy person. It was extremely hard me last year to approach an editor/agent/author. I waited for an appropriate time, sucked up my nervous feelings and went for it.

Have your pitch memorized.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your five-on-five session. Come prepared with a list.

Bring summaries and/or first chapters of other pieces you’re working on in case you have time left in your one-on-one session.

If you've revised your ms, bring the revised first chapter. I had my mentor look over my revised version during our session and was able to get great feedback on both versions.

Get to the conference early enough. Allow yourself enough time if you get lost. I got there early last year and didn’t feel rushed. I had time to go through the mentor list. If you have a smart phone, bring it (on vibrate of course). Sometimes mentors are added and you may not have notes on them. It is nice to do a bit of last minute research at the breakfast table if necessary.   

Meet new friends and rekindle old friendships. The children’s writing community is one of the friendliest and most helpful in the world. I feel lucky to be a part of it and a part of Rutgers again this year. The time and preparation that goes into this conference makes it one of the best children's writing conferences in the country. 

Below is the post from last year along with links of other posts that I’ve found helpful.
Best of luck. Hope to meet you there!

2011 Rutgers One-on-One Plus--tips for making the most of the Conference
A round-table with Route 19 Rutgers veterans.

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 your5-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.

Here are some other great links for conference tips:

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