I know, I know.
“Jordanna East, what the frick took you so long? We’ve all been salivating at the mouth, waiting to hear about the rest of your magical ASJA experience. What gives?”
Please put down your pitchforks, my beautiful faithful followers. I was out of town a few days and had planned on blogging during my down time, but down time apparently didn’t take the trip with us. Or we left him at home. There are two sides to every story. It depends on who you talk to, really. Anyway, once I got back, my notes made no sense, being over a week removed from the actual event. So I had to decipher them. Plus I wanted to include the rest of the sessions I attended in one post, rather than drag this out until I attend my next writer’s conference (ThrillerFest July 2012 in NYC! See ya there?).
So, in my first ASJA post, I spoke at length about the Books2Go/DIY Publishing session, which rocked. If you missed that post, it’s not gone. This is the internet. Take a breath and click here to catch up.
Following that session, I frolicked (well, maybe I just walked, but whatever. It still felt magical) to Your Post-Conference Game Plan: What To Do When You Get Home. I decided on this one because it was my first conference and I had no idea what to do when I got there, let alone what to do when I got home! I was like, “Holy Moly, the magic continues once I get home?”
The moderator (the “MC” if you will, for those who haven’t been to a writer’s conference yet) was the extremely affable Jennifer Fink. She is a health, medicine, and parenting writer. You may have seen her in Parents (print), or on Healthline.com (online), or in a host of other stuff. I got to see her in person though. Nana nana naah nah. She is also responsible for retweeting the link to my first ASJA recap, which ended up being featured on the Atrial Fibrillation Daily online newspaper. Pretty nifty, right? All because I saw her in person.
The lovely panelists of the session were Hannah Hudson, Stephanie Cajigal, and Jennifer Nelson. Hannah is the editorial program manager at WeAreTeachers. Stephanie is an editor within the medical publishing division of John Wiley & Sons. Jennifer is a medical freelance writer who has written for Self, Shape, Women’s Health, and many others.
I know what you’re thinking. I always do. It’s a running theme here at JJE. You’re thinking that these ladies, while lovely and talented, have absolutely nothing to do with writing a novel. Perhaps. But they provided valuable tips about what to do with all the contacts I had amassed during the conference. They asked who had a stack of business cards already. Confession time: I only had four, but raised my hand anyway. I was only there for the day, it was still early, but I knew I could get at least a dozen before the day was out. They also asked who had paid to be there. Everyone raised their hand on that one. I had even used a small portion of my fantasy football winnings for crying out loud! You know what they said? They said, “Don’t waste the investment.” And that’s when I knew that whatever these ladies had to say, I damn well better write it down. I wish I would have wrote it down more legibly though.
So here are some soundbites:
- “Strong emails can lead to work.” When you email the contacts you’ve made and you reiterate that strong first impression, you’ll stick out. They may offer you work. They may recommend you for work. They may hire you when you query them. Oodles of possibilities that can lead to you having money to buy food.
- “Be succinct.” Don’t email your new contacts and tell them what you were wearing, what they were wearing, that your dog has the same name as their dog, and you’re going to name your first born child after them. They don’t care. Get to the point. People are busy. Especially since they probably had to take off work to go to the conference.
- “Familiarize yourself with the contact’s work.” Just because Stephanie is an editor at a publishing house, I can’t query her about my novel. As I mentioned, she’s in the medical division. Oh, your main character is a doctor? That doesn’t count. In fact, John Wiley and Sons is entirely scholastic. Do your homework. Get your google on.
- “Make social networking connections.” Find your new contacts on Twitter. LinkedIn. Facebook. Branch out a little people! You saw how Jennifer Fink retweeted my link and it was featured on a website? Stuff like that happens all the time. But not if you just go home and watch Jersey Shore and eat Snickerdoodles.
- “Notes are an untapped resource.” Personally, my notes are an illegible resource, but I’m gradually untapping them. But seriously, you took a bunch of notes about what to do, websites to check out, groups to join. For what? To shove that notepad under a wobbly coffee table? Of course not!
- “Networking contacts aren’t a one-time event; stay in contact for more opportunities.” What’s the point of emailing someone to say, “Hey, great meeting you.” and then never contacting them again? Keep yourself relevent. However…
- “Proactive vs Pest: No more than 2 follow-ups.” Obviously, if you have a dialogue going with a contact and they seem to genuinely like you, this doesn’t apply. But if you queried someone with an idea and they didn’t get back to you the first time, they might be busy. Follow up to make sure you didn’t get lost in the chaos of their life. If you follow up again, and there’s still no response, you’re gonna have to give it up. Which brings us to…
- “Don’t be a creepy stalker.” This was my favorite line of the session. The very funny Jennifer Fink said it after the ladies of the panel were advising us not to send cards or gifts to our new contacts. This should be self-explanatory guys. NO ONE LIKES A CREEPY STALKER. And your new contacts most likely enjoy their jobs and don’t want to switch careers because you can’t adhere to the rules of the restraining order.
- “Listen to all the instructions, suggestions, and criticisms that accompany rejections.” If you are so brave as to query an idea to someone you’ve met, and they don’t accept it, but instead offer advice, TAKE IT! They are professionals. They took the time to be helpful when they didn’t have to. They could have just as easily said , “Umm, no. Kick rocks sucky writer.” But they didn’t. They said, “Next time, change A, B, and C.” They took the time, so you should take the time also. You owe them that much.
- “Don’t burn bridges.” You want to be a professional? You have to watch how you act and what you say. You can’t rant on Twitter and Facebook or your blog about the agent who rejected you or the beta reader who said your novel was crap or anything else that deals with your craft. My first recap was reblogged by Ebyline’s own blog. Ebyline is a corporate partner of ASJA. Had I had nothing but negative things to say about the conference, that would have been bad, no? See what I mean? You never know who’s reading and watching. So pretend you’re a little kid and you’re trying to avoid Santa’s “Naughty List.”
Wow, scroll up. Way up. See that part where I said I was going to include the rest of the sessions I attended in this one post? That’s obviously not going to happen. Apparently I absorbed more from the Post-Conference Game Plan than I ever imagined. How magical!