Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Get Organized for a Writers Conference

For those who’ve known me for any length of time are aware that organization isn’t my strong suit—at least not in the conventional meaning. My desk is covered in stacks of paper and the walls of my office are papered with rainbow hued sticky notes. It’s a system that works for me—but I quickly discovered it didn’t translate when I went on the road.

So I found another way to keep myself on track when I’m away from the office and my conference notebook was born.

It’s really pretty funny. The moment people see my notebook they immediately assume I’m this ultra-organized whiz. Actually, the opposite is true and my notebook is just a last ditch effort at self-preservation. Another thing I’ve noticed is that this notebook works well no matter what your natural bent toward organization.

The primary idea for this notebook is that it contains everything I need at a writers conference so I don’t have to dig through bags or be constantly returning to my room for something I’ve forgotten.

So let’s get to it!

First, I choose a one and a half inch three ring binder. Mine is green because green is my favorite color. I make sure there’s a sleeve on the front cover to slide a cover into because it hold my contact information if I should lay it down and leave it somewhere.

Next, in the front I have a small zippered pouch with a couple of pens and some paper clips. I can also slide in a small lipstick, some band-aids and tissues.

After that, I have a neat insert that holds several different size and colors of sticky notes.

Then, I add 4 pages of clear business card holders. I use the kind that are the size of a full page, so I have plenty of room to add business cards. I keep the first three empty and use them to store business cards I get from others. The last page is full of my personal business cards, so I always have plenty to hand out. (Don’t know what to include on a business card? I posted a blog on that here.)

The next part is divided into sections with tabs. Each project I’m pitching has a section. Here’s what would go into a section.
  • A clear plastic sleeve containing my one sheet for that project. (Don’t know what a one sheet is? Click here for a post on one sheets).
  • An outline for the project—if it’s non-fiction.
  • A synopsis for the project—if it’s fiction.
  • A sample of my writing for the project. This can either be a couple of sample devotions (for a devotional book) or the first couple of chapters in a book (fiction or non-fiction).

I have several copies of my one sheet, outline, synopsis and sample—just in case the person I’m showing it to wants to keep it or mark it up with suggestions.

Finally, after the section for projects I stock the back of the notebook with notebook paper and extra clear plastic sleeves and tabs.

Extras, you can include in your notebook might be a bio sheet, a list of topics if you're a speaker or even a list of articles you might want to pitch. The nice thing about this kind of notebook is you can personalize it to fit your needs.

With this notebook, no matter where I run into an editor or agent, I’m always prepared. I literally have everything at my fingertips. During a conference I NEVER go anywhere without my notebook.

So what have you found to help keep you on track while at a conference? We’d love to learn from your experiences too.

Just don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. You are so very good! Now, if I can just get this pulled together by May 8th... :)

  2. Dana, I'm really now - that's why I need all this help! You'll get everything done by the 8th. I've been know to get ready in two days in years past.

  3. Edie,
    I have my notebook ready! :)
    Now, to get my one page, bio, and pitch ready!

  4. This is a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh, I love it, I love it! Survival and professional impact all rolled into one. Thanks for the guidance. I'm on it! :)

  6. What a wonderful idea! I am definitely going to try this for the conference. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for the continued encouragement that I can be more organized. You inspire me!

  8. That's a PERFECT system you've devised. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  9. Hi Edie,

    By faith, I'm seriously getting prepared, starting today. Thanks for all the help. I really need it. I'm wondering if I've missed some of your posts on the conference. Is there a way to pull up them all?


  10. Thanks for all your great comments - just remember my advice comes from self-preservation!
    Also, because of Liz's question I've now posted the links to the other topics I've covered about Getting Ready for a Writers Conference on the front page of my blog. It's toward the top on the left hand side. Hope this helps!
    Blessings all - E

  11. It's funny, I keep a notebook similar to this for my daughter's home school, but hadn't translated it over to my writing. Thanks for the great idea!

  12. It's funny I have a binder very similar to this for my daughters home school but I hadn't translated this over to the idea for my writing. Thanks for the great idea! It's so simple too.

  13. That is so clever. I love it!

  14. Thanks, Edie. It has been 2 years since my last (first) conference. I needed a refresher! Blessings!