Sunday, March 3, 2002

Follow-up Etiquette After the Conference

Edie Melson

Writers ADVANCE! gave us a great opportunity to network with professionals in our industry. I’m sure you all came home with a stack of business cards (I know I did). But you may be wondering how—or even if—you should keep the connections current. Here are some basic guidelines to help you on your way.

First, I’d spend some time on Facebook and friend those you met during the week. This is often the first line of getting to know someone (even someone famous and important, like Eddie Jones). I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want more friends or fans on Facebook. The same is true of Twitter. This is also a good way to network with your fellow attendees.

Second, Get ready to write…thank you notes. If you met with someone or took a class or if they helped you, and you have their snail mail address, send them a note of thanks. This will immediately help you stand out in their memory, and your grandmother would be proud!

Next, I’d look over my list (see previous post) of who asked me to submit something. Then, incorporate anything you learned before you send something in. Let me repeat—TAKE YOUR TIME SENDING THINGS IN. The biggest mistake writers make is submitting something before it’s ready.
You don’t have to worry about that editor or agent sitting at their desk with nothing to do. They have plenty to keep them busy and they’re not counting the hours until your submission comes in. As a matter of fact, I know of several who have turned down a submission because it was sent too soon after the conference because they didn’t think the writer had time to incorporate what they’d learned.

Important tips on sending submissions.
• Make sure you spell the name right. I know it sounds basic, but you’d be surprised what we’ve heard.
• If you’re sending an email put “Requested Material from Writer ADVANCE! Writers Bootcamp” in the subject line. This will keep your email submission from getting pushed into the slush pile.
• If you’re mailing the submission write, “Writer ADVANCE! Writers Bootcamp” on the envelope for the reason mentioned above.
• If you’re including a cover letter with a mailed submission or a brief email with an attachment, be sure to remind the editor/agent a little about your material. Many of the faculty meet with hundreds of new writers every conference season and there is no way they can remember everyone. So save us all a little embarrassment and include some history.
• After you’ve sent your submission be ready to be patient. Don’t expect to receive a confirmation email or postcard, although some will do this. Don’t expect to hear back before three months. This is the busiest part of the conference season and many editors and agents are on the road more than they’re in the office. Give them some time to wade through all the paper work.
• If you still haven’t heard anything after three months send a polite email inquiry. If they don’t answer, assume no. DO NOT call them and DO NOT risk being labeled a pest. This is a small industry and people talk.
Follow these tips and you’ll be able to navigate the minefields of industry etiquette.

Edie Melson is an author and co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference