2017 Agents & Editors Conference Tips

We want to make sure our attendees get the most out of their conference experience. We also recognize that an event like this, with so many people and panels and presentations, can be exciting as well as a bit overwhelming. You might be wondering if you should bring those shiny new business cards, if it's appropriate to offer an agent or editor a copy of your manuscript or book, or how to get in touch with an agent (after the event) who has requested materials. To help our attendees to prepare, we’ve come up with a few tips to hopefully make your weekend move more smoothly.


1. Get ready to network! Familiarize yourself with the attending agents & editors by thoroughly reading their bios on the conference page of the website (you'll find that most of them have also answered a Q&A for us on our blog, Scribe; there's a link to the Q&A in the last line of their bio).


2. Have a game plan! Study the conference schedule in advance to know what sessions and speakers appeal to you and map out your plans accordingly. (Note: we expect to make the schedule available on the website no later than June 15.)

3. Have a plan B. Sometimes sessions fill up. If you don't get into your first choice, be ready with a back-up.

4. Wear comfortable clothes, especially shoes, but keep your outfit presentable. Your mother was right, first impressions are important! And don’t forget an extra layer in case the session rooms are cold; here in Texas, we love our AC in the summer!

5. Bring a notebook, tablet or whatever device you prefer in order to take notes during the informative sessions you'll be attending (there are also handy blank pages for notes in your program). Don't forget the chargers!

6. Be organized! Have a checklist handy of things you’ll need and check it twice before leaving for Austin.

7. Be prepared to participate. Jot down questions you have about writing, publishing, today's book market, and other related topics before the conference so you'll be ready to ask the experts! If you're sitting in a panel and thinking to yourself "I'm not learning anything that's new to me" then ask a question (during the Q&A or afterwards) - get that tidbit you're looking for.

8. Take copious notes! You don't know what you don't know. Panelists and presenters will share lots of information and advice that you can use -- now or later in your career as a writer.

9. Leave the outside world behind. Between sessions, don't check in with your business or personal email. Instead visit with writers and other guests. Sometimes a happenstance meeting at the coffee urn or in an elevator can lead to a key relationship.

10. Have business cards handy to trade with other writers and industry professionals! Be sure the card info is up-to-date. When you receive cards from people, take a moment to jot down why you took it so you’ll remember later.

11. Approach other attendees and ask them what they are writing. This conference is as much about networking with fellow writers as it is about meeting industry contacts.

12. Take advantage of having a book signed by the keynote speakers. It’s a great way to meet a fellow writer in person.

13. Be open-minded. You might come to the conference thinking A agent at B agency is your perfect match, but after listening to C agent on a panel, realize he/she might be the perfect advocate for you and your writing. Even if you don't get a chance to chat with C agent, you can query him/her later and mention that panel discussion that opened your eyes.

14. Relax, have fun, and mingle. Get to know the panelists, presenters, moderators, and the other conference attendees. You never know who the person sitting next to you might be (or who they might know).

15. Be prepared to present your "pitch.” Consultations are not the only opportunity to chat with an agent about your book. The weekend will offer you many great networking opportunities, whether during an evening reception or before and after daytime sessions.

16. Don't forget to visit the exhibitor tables when programming is not in session. Interacting with exhibitors opens the door to additional networking opportunities.

17. Throughout the conference, remember to engage with other attendees and faculty on social media. #WLT2017

18. Know the social media handles of major conference players and use them.

19. We don't suggest offering agents or editors your manuscript or other materials on the spot (and don't be disappointed if they decline to take them if you do). The vast majority of submissions are done electronically and very few of our visiting faculty will want to take materials home with them.

20. VERY IMPORTANT: If an agent asks you to submit pages, be sure to get their contact information and ask them how they’d like to receive materials.

Conference Attendee Veterans: Have a great tip that’s not here? Email us at conference@writersleague.org with “Conference Tips” in the subject line and we’ll happily add your nuggets of wisdom to this page.