Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pre-Conference Preparation for Writers

by Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS @SusanNealYoga

Are you attending a writers conference this year? If you are, make the most out of your investment by preparing for it. The following tips will ensure you get the most out of your conference by getting organized before you arrive. 

Conference Classes
Review all the classes on the conference website to determine which ones would be best for you to attend. Some higher-level courses require that you sign up ahead of time, so check your conference website early. Have a list of the classes you plan to take before you arrive at the conference. 

One-Sheet and Book Proposal
Create a one-sheet for any writing project you want to pitch. In addition, it is best to write a book proposal, and include the first three chapters of the book. I recommend you get those chapters professionally edited. During a conference appointment, if a publisher requests a book proposal for the project you pitched, you can show the publisher how prepared you are by handing them a book proposal. That shows the publisher that you are prepared and willing to do the work necessary to get your book published.

Faculty Appointments
Check the conference website and read each of the faculty bios. Determine if there is someone on staff that would be beneficial for you to meet. If yes, keep track of each faculty member that you want to make appointments with on the notes app of your cell phone. 
If you don’t need to make an appointment with a faculty member, but would like to connect with them, plan to sit at their table during a meal, as some conferences have faculty and staff sit at specific tables during meals. Reference your faculty list when you’re at the conference to help you juggle everything you set out to accomplish. Don’t try to remember it all. Reviewing your organized lists when you arrive at the conference is a lifesaver. 
Arrive on time at your appointment with faculty members. Stand a couple of yards away but close enough that the staff person can see that their next appointment has arrived. When the faculty member looks up and sees you, it helps that person to stay on time. 

Paid Critiques
Some conferences allow you to submit your writing project to staff members to perform critiques. If you are attending a large conference, where it is difficult to get appointments with everyone that you would like, this is a great way to obtain more conference appointments. You will automatically have an appointment scheduled with individuals who are critiquing your work. This critique appointment is in addition to the allotted faculty appointments that you are allowed to sign up for.

Conference Contests
Enter conference contests. If you finalize in a contest, you become an award-winning author. Your goal is to reach that designation so you can include it in your bio.

I obtained my agent through submitting a critique to him at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and subsequently winning third place in the contest. After placing in the contest, Cyle Young offered to become my agent. 

Critiques show a publisher or agent how well you write. Winning a contest validates the quality of your writing. One year later, when my book 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates won the Selah award, I had a well-known literary agent approach me about representation. Contests get you on the map to publication.

The following is a list of what you need to do to prepare for a writers conference:
  1. List the classes you plan to attend. If one requires you to sign up in advance, get your name on the list early.
  2. Create a one-sheet.
  3. Complete a book proposal.
  4. Include the first three professionally edited chapters of your book in your proposal.
  5. Create a faculty appointments list and those who you want to sit with during a meal.
  6. Pay for critiques with several faculty members.
  7. Enter your work in the conference contest.
  8. Review your lists during the conference.

You spend a lot of time and money attending a conference. It is essential to do pre-conference planning to get the most value for the money spent. I hope these tips help.


Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS
Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a CERTIFIED HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACH with the American Association of Christian Counselors. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATESCHRISTIAN STUDY GUIDE FOR 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATESHEALTHY LIVING JOURNALSCRIPTURE YOGA a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and YOGA FOR BEGINNERS which ranked #3. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs that are available at CHRISTINAYOGA.COM. Her digital product HOW TO PREVENT, IMPROVE, AND REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA is a great resource. To learn more about Susan visit her website SUSANUNEAL.COM You can also connect with Susan on FACEBOOKTWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. This is excellent, Susan. Pre-conference prep is vital. When you arrive, you are immediately overwhelmed. There is so much happening right from the start! If we come in with our ducks in a row, with our thoughts lined up, our goals to achieve, it will help with the panic of it all. You are paying a lot of money to be there--make every minute count! And when you are organized, you can take the time to have a coffee with a new friend or sit on the balcony in a rocker with the Lord.

  2. Wonderful tips. The more conferences I attend, the more I learn. :-)

  3. Lots of helpful information here! Thanks, Susan!