Monday, August 19, 2013

Preparing for a Writers Conference: Being Memorable

In just three weeks I will be going to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. I went last year and had the time of my life. As I'm preparing to go this year, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and feelings about my experiences.

Last week I talked about One Sheets, Business Cards and Pitches. This week I thought I'd focus on how to be memorable.

The ACFW Conference is a busy place. Over seven hundred writers, editors and agents come together to get as much business accomplished as possible in four days. As a writer, we want to stand out from the crowd and be memorable--but how do we accomplish this?

I have five simple suggestions for being memorable.

1. Be selfless. This sounds like a simple idea, but it is one of the most important things you can do at a conference. Countless opportunities will come up for you to do things for others, and it's one of the most effective ways to be memorable. Last year two of my friends offered me their editor appointments--talk about selfless! I've heard that agents and editors watch writers interact together at conferences. They like to see that you're someone who would be easy to work with. 

These two ladies gave me editors appointments!
Melissa Tagg and Lindsay Harrel have become
some of my best writer friends. I can't wait to
see them soon!!
2. Be genuine. Some of my favorite people in the world are the ones who are completely genuine. What you see is what you get. These are the people who care about you and take the time to listen. They genuinely want to offer you their friendship. Last year I met some incredible writers who asked me about my writing, listened to me practice my pitch and made me feel included. These people were very memorable to me.

Suzanne Stock took this picture about thirty minutes after we met!
She was so genuine and warm. We connected very quickly
and found we had a lot in common.
3. Be outgoing. This one is hard for a lot of writers who tend to be introverted by nature--but the best way to be memorable is to step out of your comfort zone and get to know other people. Take the time to find someone else who is sitting alone and strike up a conversation. It's very easy to do at a writers conference. Just ask them what genre they write, how many books they've written, are they published? agented? You might be surprised! Your next best friend could be a conversation away. Push yourself to walk up to an agent or editor. Approach a published writer who you recognize and tell them what you like about their books. Put a smile on your face and look others in the eyes--showing them you're open for conversation.

4. Be creative. This one can be fun! Think about your talents and gifts. What can you do that sets you apart? Last year one of my roommates drew an awesome dragon on her name tag. She writes YA Speculative Fiction--and she's an incredible artist. She combined those two talents and had a name tag others went out of their way to ask her about. I recall twin brothers last year who dressed exactly alike and went into pitching appointments together. Very memorable. My friend, Lindsay Harrel, performed in a musical during the MBT Pizza Party. She stood out from among the crowd!

Some of my flower pins.
So what could I do to stand out? I can't draw or sing--and I don't have a twin. But I can make flower pins. They're pretty and feminine. They also remind me of earlier fashions from the 20s and 30s, and since I love all things historical, they're one of my favorite things. Last year I wore a different flower pin every day. I chose colorful ones that stood out and I had a lot of people ask me about them. I also wore really unique necklaces. It seems like a little thing, but I love necklaces. I wear one every. single. day. This was something I didn't even realize would make me memorable, but I had a lot of people come up to me and comment on my necklaces.

Here I am with one of my unique necklaces and flower pins
(and Katie Ganshert)!
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The idea is to be unique and memorable.

5. Be thankful--send a memorable thank you to agents & editors. This is another one that takes some creativity. After a conference it's an excellent idea to send a thank you to the agents and editors you pitched to--even if they didn't request your work. It's also a great idea to send thank you notes to anyone else who made an impact on you. Last year I sent thank you notes to a handful of teachers and writers who made my conference special. This is another way you can be memorable. My friend Melissa Tagg was really creative when she was pitching. She made a video thank you for the agents and editors she pitched to! She had great feedback from her videos--and she was very memorable.

Since I had so many positive comments on my flower pins, I decided to send a flower pin to each person I thanked. I wore my flower pins at my pitching appointments, so I thought it would be a fun and memorable thank you gift. Keep in mind you don't have to send a gift--a simple thank you is sufficient. I just wanted to do something a little extra special. One of the editors I sent a pin to told me she wore the pin to her nephew's birthday party. What a great way to keep me in mind! Hopefully each time she looks at her pin (or wears it), she thinks of me.

These are just a handful of ways you can become memorable at a writers conference. Remember to be humble, have fun and relax--and all of these things will come naturally to you.

What about you? If you've been to a conference before, what ways have you found to be memorable? What thank you ideas do you have? Which one of these is easy for you? Which one is harder?


  1. I still have my flower pen you gave me from last year. I wear it all the time and it gives me a chance to point potential readers to your blog. I can hardly wait to see you this year!

    1. I'm so happy you get to wear the pin often--and that you point potential readers to my site! Thank you, Edie. I'm looking forward to seeing you again soon! I might have another pin for you... :)

  2. Your flower pins were so pretty last year, Gabrielle! These are great tips!

    1. Thank you, Jill! I'm looking forward to seeing you soon. I'll be cheering you onto the podium during the Genesis Awards ceremony!!

  3. The flower pins are genius, Gabe, and so pretty! And all your advice here is wonderful!! My favorite one you mentioned is "be genuine." I just think that's so important...and it really does stand out to people. And I have to say, you are someone to me who sparkles with genuineness and sincerity!

    1. Thank you, Melissa. You're one of those people who has been so memorable to me because of all these things I mentioned above. I know your books will be successful because your writing is also memorable! Counting down the days until our road trip to Indy!!

  4. I. Love. My. Flowerpin! ;)

    I knew from the moment I met you, I thought, "That's a gal who I'm gonna love!"

    You were funny, forthright, and friendly! Key winners in my book! Lol

    How am I memorable? (Ummm. I wear a lot of red?)

    High five, agent-mate! Fantastic post! :)

    1. Cindy, you're one of the most memorable people to me because you are so friendly and you have the best sense of humor! I loved getting to know you at ACFW last year and I can't wait to room together this year!! So happy we're agency mates!!

  5. Love this post -- and my daughters loved my flower pin when I got back from ACFW (but it's safely attached to one of my fave winter coats).
    One thing I did to be memorable: My crafty daughter made me some "word" shoes: a pair of flats with dictionary words all over them.
    Perfect for a writers conference!

    1. I remember those shoes! Very cool and memorable, Beth. Your hugs are also memorable, as well as your friendly smile and encouraging words. I can't wait to see you in just a few short weeks!!


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