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Ask Daphne! About Conference Prep

stackPapersSmlThanks to those of you who answered my poll on Friday about the upcoming SCBWI conference. In light of that, I wanted to answer a question I received from Amy, and hope that it’s helpful to you:

Dear Daphne,
Since you mentioned the LA SCBWI conference Friday on your blog, I was wondering if you could answer a question about conferences for me.

As an agent, if you’re interested in a novel’s premise while at a conference, what kinds of materials do you expect the writer to have available? I’m wondering if I need to make hard copies of my first chapter to have on hand, or if it’s more a case of trading contact info with the agent and sending the material at a later date.

I don’t want to arrive at the conference unprepared. 🙂

Thanks so much for your help!


Amy, I’m going to make your packing easier. Don’t worry about bringing hard copies of your material. Make sure you have business cards with your name and contact information, and try to get something similar from an agent if they’re interested in your book. Note also that if you’ve signed up for a critique, the agent already may have a copy of your contact information, and if they’re interested, may already have taken note of your details.

But no, if you’re chatting in a hallway or elevator, and the agent asks for your pitch and is interested, all you need to do is trade information and follow up afterwards. In fact, sometimes not even that. The onus will be on you, the author, to follow up (in most cases), and the agent’s contact details will likely be in the conference materials provided to all attendees.

The week after the conference, send an email to the agent’s publicly-provided email address, reminding them when and where you met, recapping your elevator pitch, and sending the material they requested.

I’ve been to my fair share of conferences, and I can tell you, I’d rather leave with less material than I walked in with, rather than more. Especially now when most agents read submissions electronically, paper is just unnecessary baggage.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

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