Two Words: Business Cards!
by Annie Cronin Romano
Bring business cards to share.
This is one of many pieces of advice I read prior to attending my first SCBWI Winter Conference five years ago. It was one of the few I didn’t heed. Why would I bring business cards? I thought. I had no publishing credits. I didn’t have a website. I’m not an illustrator with a portfolio. I figured that advice must only apply to those who were already published, or at the very least had an agent. So I didn’t bring any cards. I saved my money. I was prudent.
I met so many fascinating writers at my first conference. And in most instances, when I asked, “What do you write?” the response would be “Oh, I write ‘X’” quickly followed by, “Here! [pulls out business card] Let’s swap cards.” I hung my head in disgrace, icy waves of mortification crashing upon my unprepared, unprofessional self. “I don’t have a card.”
Okay, perhaps it wasn’t quite that theatrical, but you get the valuable nugget I’m hurling in your general direction. Bring business cards.
What to include on aforementioned card? Well, your name (says Captain Obvious) and the genre(s) you write (Pocahontas Smith, YA historical fiction). Include your email and/or phone number, if you choose, and any social media info you have, such as your Twitter handle, website, or Facebook page. You can elaborate on what you write (I specialize in children’s nonfiction picture books about zero gravity hula hooping and underwater blindfolded archery) or you can keep it general (Joe Schmo, PB & MG).
You don’t have to spend big bucks on your cards. No need for glossy, hologrammed, and lemon-scented (actually, scratch and sniff would be kinda cool…). There are many online printing sites that are reasonably priced. Or you can print them yourself. Got a time crunch? Buy the pre-cut perforated sheets (Avery is one brand), download a free template, and print them at home.
Now…lean in close. Can you hear me? Good, ‘cause this is the most important part: HAND THEM OUT! Those lovely little business cards will do you no good whatsoever tucked away in your Vera Bradley laptop bag. Share them with those at your critique roundtable. Offer them to the agent who expressed an interest in your work during a critique. Pass one to the writer sitting next to you in a workshop. Heck, throw one into the Win a Free Dinner fishbowl at your local restaurant (Okay, that's not networking, but you might recoup your business card money in the form of complementary sushi!) With your cards, you can make connections with future critique partners or gain a valued peer with whom to share your writing trials and joys. So build those bridges. By sharing business cards, you'll walk away from your writing conference with more that just useful information from keynotes and workshops. You'll leave the conference connected with a network of writers who are journeying with you.
Side note: I keep all the cards I’ve received at conferences. I follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page. No, I’m not a stalker. I’m a supporter! And when their books get published (and they do!) it’s thrilling to have witnessed the progress and successes of those I’ve have the pleasure of meeting.
Create A Pitch Ring
by Kelly Carey
Are you ready for the question? You will be asked it by fellow writers at workshops, at conferences, by agents, even by the local librarian. You need to be ready with your answer. You will be asked, “What are you working on?” or “What do you write?” This should be a simple question to answer. But when put on the spot, you will get tongue tied, suffer a burst of bashfulness, and probably freeze up with mini stage fright. The result will be a mumbled and botched response. Worse, it will be a missed opportunity to market your manuscript and explain your writing prowess.
Don’t fret. I have the solution.
You need a Pitch Ring.
Do you remember the flashcards you used in elementary school? The ones you might be using today with your own kids for sight words and math facts? It’s time to employ that method for your manuscripts and create a Pitch Ring.
You will need:
On each index card write the title of your manuscript and then paste or tape your one sentence pitch followed by your one paragraph synopsis to the index card. For help creating your one sentence pitch, check out this great post by author Nathan Bransford.
The longer synopsis paragraph can be grabbed right from your query letters.
Punch a hole through your index cards, and clip them together on your loose leaf ring. Now, every day, review your flashcards. Practice your pitches until they become as automatic as flipping on a light switch when you enter a dark room.
As a bonus, create an introduction flashcard for yourself. This introduction card will help with the more generic “what do you write?” question and can include the information you put in the final bio paragraph in your query letters.
Now when asked the question, “What are you writing?” or “What is your story about?”, you will have a practiced and professional response that will have just the right ring to it – a perfect Pitch Ring!
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