Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to Get the Most out of a Writers Conference Before the Event

Today’s SharingwithWriters guest is author p.m.terrell, the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation. The foundation's slogan is Buy a Book and Stop a Crook. Cute, huh? She is also the co-chair for Book ‘Em NorthCarolina Writers Conference and Book Fair and author of more than 17 books, including the award-winning River Passage and Vicki’s Key. You can tell this is a woman who can help the essentials of making a book fair and conference work for you.  In fact, I've decided to extend her wisdom to three guest posts (three days in a row): What you can do before the event, what you can do during, and what you can do afterward. Please subscribe to this blog so you don't miss a single one.

How to Get the Most out of a Writers Conference – Part 1: Before the Event

 By p. m. terrell

The first time I helped to organize a writer’s conference and book fair was in 2003 and 2004, when Police Officer Mark Kearney and I started The Book ‘Em Foundation and held our first Book ‘Em Virginia event. Since then, I’ve helped with 10 events, including Book ‘Em North Carolina, which is held on the last Saturday of each February in sunny Lumberton, North Carolina.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to observe authors who did superbly at the events, selling out of all their books. And right beside them might be an author who didn’t sell a single copy.
What’s the difference?

Part of it is genre and the audience. But a very large part of how well each author does is what they do before, during and even after the event.

In Part 1, I’ll make a few suggestions for things every author can do before the event to raise his or her chances of success. Part 2 looks at things to do during the event, and Part 3 suggests what to do after the event.

1.     Distribute Press Releases. As soon as you are registered as a speaker and participant at a Writer’s Conference and Book Fair, send a press release to your local media. It doesn’t have to be long; but even two or three sentences can work their way into your newspapers to give you exposure.

2.     Inform Your Fans. Let your fans know where you’ll be and when. It’s never too early to start. If the event organizers have e-newsletters they distribute with information about the event, by all means forward it to everyone you know—your fans, the media, and readers.

3.     Update Your Web Site. You should have a list of appearances on your website so your fans know where you’ll be. If you have a presence on other sites that allow events to be posted, be sure to submit the date and place to them as well.

4.     Network. This is often an overlooked part of any conference. But if the organizers have a website such as, check out the other authors who will be attending. See someone who writes books complimentary to yours? Contact them. Everybody wants to know somebody at each conference they attend so they don’t walk in “cold” and they’ll appreciate the introduction—and will often be your first sale at the event.

5.     Blog. Ask if the organizers have a blog where you can guest post. If they have an e-newsletter, ask if you can contribute an article. Both will get your name out there, not only to the organizers but to fellow authors, fans and readers.

6.     Check Your Listing. Make sure your listing on the organizer’s website is correct and it sells you. Look at other listings. Don’t waste space telling people how great your children are unless you have written a book on how to raise great children. This is your chance to sell yourself so make the most of it. What do you want your fans to know about you that will compel them to buy your book?

7.     Get to Know the Organizers. Often the organizers will have other ways of promoting yourself and your books, whether it’s an extra panel discussion, an extra appearance, or an introduction to another local group.

8.     Plan Ahead. Find out how much table space you’ll have and start now to plan a 3-D display. 3-D can mean a tablecloth that has your book’s cover on the front (easy to do with t-shirt transfers) or upright book displays or posters. Check out the pictures from the 2012 Book ‘Em event ( to see what authors did at this event—it can give you ideas.

9.     Take Advantage of Extra Sightings. Some events have extra events scheduled, such as a networking dinner or luncheon. Be sure to take advantage of those. It can often lead to friendships and alliances that are mutually beneficial.

10.  Social Networking. Get the word out to your fans and readers through social networking sites. It’s easy to send an update through Smart Phones, all the way to the moment you arrive and beyond.
What are ways you prepare for a writers conference or book fair to make sure your fans know where you’ll be and you pave the way for success?

And please come back tomorrow for installment number two.

~Learn more about p.m. terrell:
Terrell is author of more than 16 books, including the Award-Winning historical books River Passage and Songbirds are Free; internationally acclaimed suspense Exit 22, Ricochet, The Banker's Greed, Kickback and The China Conspiracy; the how-to book, Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book; and four non-fiction computer books. Look for her latest book, Vicki's Key, a two-time award nominee and finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards, and her next book, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, due to be released in the fall of 2012!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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