Just like a newborn baby, your conference experience needs a two-week check-up.
The first thing you need to do is to review your notes. If you take cryptic notes that need to be transcribed, do that before you forget what “%dftba/fiction always” means.
While reviewing your notes, take a look at all of the business cards you collected. Are you following all your new conference pals on Twitter, Facebook and their blogs? It means a lot to be able to connect with others who are struggling to get the words on paper, the perfect query and the perfect agent. It means even more to be able to connect with those who have already made it to the other side. Other writers are not your competition, they are your biggest cheerleaders!
Did you have a heart to heart with an agent or editor about your shared love for rescue dogs and dark chocolate? Did you bond over a glass of gas station wine? Don’t be afraid to tag them in a simple “thank you, had fun” message. Once. It is nice if they can feel the love from conference goers. It is bad is they feel like they are being stalked. Once.
Now that we have all the pleasantries taken care of, it is time to get down to business.
A query asks an agent/editor if they would like to see your work. A submission is what happens after they say yes. Do not query if they have already asked to see your work, just submit.
Work through your list of agents/editors to query and double-check all of their requirements. You did all that before conference? Doesn’t matter– do it again. Follow their query guidelines exactly. If you met them in person or sat in on one of their classes, that is an excellent way to open your letter.
Dear Agent X:
I recently had the pleasure of hearing you speak on <really cool topic> at DFW Writers’ Conference. I especially enjoyed your explanation of <coolest part of really cool topic>.
<insert rest of your awesome query letter>
Author of the Next Big Thing
(Please don’t follow this exactly; it is pretty lame. Use your situation and your voice to connect with the agent.)
Enter your queries in whatever tracking method you use and have a cookie.
It is finally time for your requested submissions. Did you pitch to an agent/editor (in a pitch session, at the cocktail party, over lunch) and get a request to send them a partial/full manuscript? Well done! You can have another cookie.
After you dust of the cookie crumbs, give your manuscript a final look. Is it formatted correctly? Have you fixed all the rough spots? If possible, have a fresh pair of eyes review it for the things that spellcheck won’t catch. It just isn’t cool to have your main character visiting the pubic library, blistering threw knew booked.
Once again, follow the directions given by the agent/editor. If they told you to submit via crayon on a donkey, do it. Submit exactly what they requested, not one bit more or less. Unless they have specifically told you what to put in the subject line, you should put something like “requested materials- DFWCon.” Keep your cover letter brief and to the point. (Cover letter, not query!) Let your manuscript do the talking.
Update your query/submission tracker and have a carrot. (You’ve already had two cookies.)
You have one last thing to complete your two-week conference check-up: Register for 2014 at the Super Early Bird Rate of $200.
Just like a new baby, you can’t stop caring at two weeks and expect things to turn out well. Your next check-up is at one month. See you there.Jodi Thompson is a life-long wordsmith who is currently spending her days in the new-to-her fiction arena. You can see more of her disjointed ramblings at http://www.thejodithompson.com/or catch her any Wednesday night at DFW Writers’ Workshop.