Amandah Blackwell’s Don’ts and Do’s for Attending Writer’s Conferences

In a couple of weeks, we’re about to bid farewell to 2011 and welcome 2012. For authors and writers, this translates to sorting through the enormous amount of writer’s conferences and choosing a few to attend during the New Year. Before you pack your bags and fly or drive to your destination, read the don’ts and do’s of attending writer’s conferences.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t sit at table with grumpy look on your face. All of us know that writers are ‘supposed to be’ solitary people however, when you’re at a conference, you may want to loosen up.

2. Don’t insult other authors and writers. This is bad business acumen and downright unacceptable. There’s room for all writers.

3. Don’t monopolize editors and publishers. You’re not the only one at the book or writer’s conference. Give your 30-second elevator speech and ask to schedule time with editors, literary agents, and publishers during classes and workshops.

4. Don’t dress sloppy. Like it or not, your appearance is just as important as your manuscript. Iron your clothes and or pack wrinkle-free clothing.

5. Don’t forget to bring your iPad and or laptop.

6. Don’t forget to bring marketing materials such as business cards, postcards, flyers, etc.

7. Don’t forget to participate in classes and workshops. You’re not in elementary or high school anymore. It’s alright to raise your hand. If you give the wrong answer, you’ll survive.

The Do’s

1. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Dress for success” a million times but there is truth to it. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel like a million dollars. Before you attend a writer’s conference purchase new clothes and get your haircut, styled and colored. When you look better, you feel better.

2. Do get over your shyness. You may want to get to the ‘root’ of your shyness and dissolve it. Life’s too short to be afraid to speak up and speak your mind. Walk up to someone you don’t know and say, “Hi! My name is (fill in the blank). It’s nice to meet you. What do you think of the writer’s conference?” It may take you a couple of times but once you do this, you’ll be able to speak to anyone, including your fans.

3. Do send hand written ‘Thank You’ notes to editors, literary agents, and publishers. Remember to ask for a business card.

4. Do network as much as you can. If you want to collaborate with another writer, conferences are the best places to find the ‘right’ writing partner.

5. Do bring paper and pen along with a recorder (if permissible). You never know, there could be a power outage and you may not have time to charge your laptop.

6. Do learn all you can about the publishing process. The more you know the better you’ll become at writing and sending query letters and understanding what agents and publishers want.

7. Do prepare a list of questions. When it’s time for the panel discussion, be prepared to ask your questions. Do your homework and learn all you can about the conference, panel, etc. Know before you go!


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Freelance Writer’s Create a Resume That Sells

resume wordle

Recently, I took on a new client; I’ll call her mom. Yes, my mom decided she wants a part-time job but needed an updated resume. She wanted to apply for a job with Rent-A-Grandma which is a successful start-up business located in California. The company is being featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and on the hit TV show Shark Tank. Way to go!

I sat down with my mom and created a one page resume that shows her experience within the areas of childcare and elderly care along with her management expertise. I explained to her the importance of using keywords and phrases within her resume which makes a resume more searchable when it’s posted online. I also explained the importance of capturing the attention of a client, hiring manager or recruiter in 30-seconds or less. After a few hours, my mom had a modern, searchable resume that will land her the job she wants.

How to create a freelance writer’s resume that sells

Name your resume with a clever title. Naming your resume Jane Smith.doc may not get your noticed. Be creative. For example, you could name your resume Jane Smith_Wordologist for You, Jane Smith_Wordsmith, Jane Smith_Published Freelance Writer, Jane Smith_Award Winning Freelance Writer or Jane Smith_World’s Best Freelance Editor and Writer. You’ll want to ‘brand’ yourself so it makes sense you’d brand your resume. To show your resume is up-to-date, name it Jane Smith_September 2011.

Use keywords. Believe it or not, keywords and phrases aren’t just for blogs. When you submit your resume, a potential client will ‘scan’ it to see if your keywords and phrases match theirs. Don’t stuff your resume with keywords, but don’t skimp on them either.

Show what you can do. Simply listing your qualifications isn’t enough. You must show what you did. For example, if you wrote sales copy for an electronics company, write something like, “Increased the sales of digital cameras by 75% ($5 Million dollar profit) through the use of copywriting, web content and social media writing.” If you worked with a not-for-profit, write something like, “Wrote newsletter, invitation, email campaign and other copy for annual animal advocacy fundraiser called Fashion Shows Up for Animals. Fundraiser raised $100 Million dollars.” Show what you did and how you did it.

Sell yourself and skills. A resume is a great advertising and marketing tool. This is where advertising/marketing copywriting come into play. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. What qualifications would you look for? What makes the perfect editor/writer? Think about this when you write your resume.

Choose your style. What resume style is right for you: chronological, functional, or combination (chronological/functional)? Chronological lists your employment first. Functional lists your major accomplishments and skills. A combination resume mixes the chronological and functional technique. Choose the style that works best for you.

Utilize the power of the infographic resume. An infographic resume could put you ahead of other candidates. This visual trend has taken off like a wild fire! Make sure your infographic is neat and clean. Overwhelming a potential client with a lot of graphics, wild colors and details could make them dizzy. You want to make a good impression, not a bad one.

Use a QR Code. Smart phones and other electronic gadgets can read a QR Code aka Quick Response Code which is a bar code that contains data. A QR Code could contain a link to your website, resume, portfolio or other information. It’s a great addition to the ‘traditional’ resume.

Your professional experience and stellar copy writing are the keys to a resume that gets you noticed. Put the client’s needs before yours. Focus on what you bring to the table and don’t worry about the other freelance writers. You’ll get the client if it’s meant to be. Don’t settle on a project because you feel you have to take it. Holding out for the ‘perfect’ client/project (in your eyes) is better than agreeing to one that isn’t your heart’s desire. It’s better to wait for the ‘right’ opportunity. It will be worth it!


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