6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at a Writers Conference

by guest blogger Katelyn S. Bolds, web writer and social media strategist

1.  Bring snacks

Don’t make the mistake of not planning for meals. Have a little snack stashed in your attaché for a slow moment. Don’t let your stomach growl when pitching your book! Bring a granola bar or trail mix as a speedy way to subdue your hunger. Choosing protein and low-sugar options will help keep your energy levels up and prevent you from crashing in the mid-afternoon slump.6-rookie-mistakes

2.  Make goals

Attending a conference with no goals in mind is a complete waste of money. Even if your goal is “find out what my goal should be,” you should still have some in mind.

Make a list of the editors and agents you want to meet with or touch base with. Do your homework and research them online. Try to find out interests, and see if your story would fit well for them. If an agent only works with fiction, don’t try to get them to make an exception for your manuscript.

3.  Avoid burnout

Know what is the right amount of conference for you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, leave the conference. Go outside, take a nap, call your family. Skipping meals or sleep will not impress anyone, but rather give the impression that you are inexperienced and unprofessional. Everyone needs a break after a long conference, but rest assured you can recover.

Read more here about avoiding conference burnout.

4.  Network and connect

Don’t underestimate the power of connections and friendships made at conferences! Use your time between sessions to speak with those around you. Swap struggles and tips with other writers and make sure to get names and e-mails if you feel the connection has potential. Writer friends are important for support, idea generation, and later networking opportunities. Be kind and see where it might lead!

5.  Pitch perfectly

Know your story backwards and forwards. It’s hard to sell a story short and sweet, but shoot for the style of a back cover. Focus on the main plot and emotional draw. In three to five sentences, explain the mass appeal of your work and why the publisher should be interested. Be polite, but don’t waste time chatting about the weather or the conference. The agent or editor is there to hear your pitch.

6.  Follow up and follow through!

Follow up with everyone you spoke with for more than a few minutes. Send them a thank you e-mail referencing interesting conversation points you discussed and tell them it was nice to meet them. This little touch will remind them who you are and set you apart from the crowd.

Follow through with anyone who asked you to send them something. If an editor asks you to tweak your story before sending them your manuscript, don’t let pride or lack of time stand in your way. Send it to them with haste! You may find that they are willing to work with you in the future, knowing how dedicated you are to impressing them.

Now that you know the rookie mistakes to avoid at writers conferences, be sure to sign up for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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katelynsbolds_headshotKatelyn S. Bolds balances work as web editor, author services extraordinaire, and freelance writer. She is married to coffee; also her husband. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Follow her on Twitter, (@KatelynSBolds), Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

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Laura Christianson Enjoys Delivering the Beef

 By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Laura Christianson

Have you ever signed up for a free webinar that actually turned out to be an hour-long advertisement-in-disguise for an online course that would set you back thousands of dollars?

Laura Christianson has. “While there’s nothing wrong with promoting a course, product, or service via a webinar,” she says, “most of the webinars I attend are heavy on promotion and light on content.”

As she hangs up in disgust, she wonders, “Where’s the beef?”

Laura’s conviction in delivering the “beef” (or the veggie sandwich, for those not into red meat) provides the motivation for everything she does.

“Whether I’m delivering a keynote presentation to hundreds, teaching a workshop to a small group, or chatting with one individual, my chief delight comes from knowing I’ve helped someone,” she says.

One of her areas of expertise is social-media marketing. Not only does she regularly partner with publishers such as Revell, Bethany House, Franciscan Media, Moody Publishers, and Simon & Schuster to promote their authors, but she also owns Blogging Bistro, a marketing company that specializes in custom website creation, content writing, and online courses. She’s also written three published books and thousands of articles and serves on the board of West Coast Christian Writers, located in San Jose, California.

At the 2016 Renewal, Laura will teach two workshops on social media:

5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid1) 5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid – Ready to blog and use social media, but afraid you’ll do it incorrectly? During this workshop, you’ll learn five things not to do, along with how to replace bad habits with solid foundational practices that will help you dominate your niche.

#HeavenlyHashtags2) #HeavenlyHashtags to Build Your Brand – Learn what hashtags are and how to use them correctly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll head home from this workshop with five brilliant ways to use hashtags.

Laura, a long-time member of NCWA, lives in the Seattle area, where she enjoys rollerblading, bicycling, and swimming. She and her husband root for their young-adult sons who are involved in various athletic, culinary, and Xbox endeavors.

To attend her workshops or to request an appointment with one of the seven editorial representatives at this year’s conference, sign up for the Renewal today.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Wowful (not Woeful) Websites

Terri Picone, guest blogger, attended The Christian Writer’s Coach Technology Conference sponsored by NCWA.

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I attended the Laura Christianson’s workshop to learn how to improve my website. Laura owns Blogging Bistro which designs websites as well as provides expertise on other social media services. Her qualifications to teach this workshop and enjoy a good cup of coffee speak for themselves. (And her webpage bloggingbistro.com illustrates both very well.)

Laura 4

Early on, Laura suggests we consider our brand. The obvious choice may be our name. This works for many, but always consider how long, simple, easy to spell, and memorable our choice for a brand is—name or not. And it’s wise to check, by doing a Google search, whether it already has other associations with it which we’d rather avoid. Once we know what our brand name is, we need to buy it.

Laura explains the importance of tying together our website and all we do (logo, blog, business cards) to show our brand, down to the font and colors we choose for them. Using continuity on all our branded products reinforces their impression about us. In fact, everything we do online represents who we are and what we stand for. We want to highlight what we want them to know and show our how we are unique so they can relate to us.

When setting up or evaluating our website, Laura suggests thinking about what we hope to accomplish with it. Getting our name out there? Our writing? Books? Speaking topics and availability? The design should accomplish our purpose which seems simple, but without planning, many websites just take up cyberspace and fall short.

TweetWithout planning, many websites take up cyberspace and fall short.

On every page a visitor opens, she should feel oriented and able to locate the most important thing for that page. Each page should carry only one call to action. Pages that are clutter-free with planned white space create a professional-looking website. Laura shares that visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold (the area which is seen without scrolling down) so that area needs to be well planned.

Tweet Website visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold, so plan well.

Other considerations for a webpage include how many pages are needed and which sidebar elements to use. The color scheme should be simple but reflect us, and limiting our websites to only a few basic fonts gives a professional appearance.

To read or not to read? Since a visitor makes a decision in seconds as to whether or not he will read the content, headlines are critical. Make the reader wonder, draw him in. Besides headlines, the overall impression, subheadings, bold words, and scan-able pages also contribute to his decision to read on or close the page. (A scan-able page is one that is quickly scanned by the reader.)

As far as content, the copy needs to be stellar. Sentences should focus on the reader’s needs. Christianson says to talk directly to the reader, keeping in mind he is asking himself, “What’s in it for me?” consciously or unconsciously as he reads.

TweetTalk directly to the reader, because he’s asking, “What’s in it for me?”

I definitely gained some valuable information at Laura Christianson’s workshop. Her site (bloggingbistro.com) has many more free tips and resources plus the contact information for her professional services. If you get a chance to attend one of Laura Christianson’s workshops, you’ll learn a lot and, if you bring coffee, you’ll fit right in.

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Terri PiconeTerri Picone writes short stories and is (still) working on a novel. After homeschooling her three kids, she went back to college and got her English: Creative Writing degree in 2006. She’s a member of ACFW, Oregon Christian Writers, and Inland Northwest Christian Writers. The Technology Conference was her first NCWA Conference and she looks forward to others. She is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs at www.terripicone.com

How to Use Picnik to Quickly Resize Images for your Facebook Photo Strip

Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro  continues her series of

fantastic tips for social media and website management.

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I’ve been tinkering with the photo strip on my Facebook Business (fan) Page – those five thumbnail-sized images that display in random order across the top of the Wall.

To read more click here.

Facebook Tutorial: How to Make Sure you see Updates from All your Friends in your Newsfeed

Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro  continues her series of

fantastic tips for social media and website management.

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Have you noticed that you are only seeing updates in your Facebook Newsfeed from the same people lately?

To read more click back to Blogging Bistro Tutorial here.

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This post first appeared March 31, 2011 on Blogging Bistro. Reposted by kind permission.

A relationship marketer for over 25 years, Laura Christianson owns Blogging Bistro, a company that helps people enhance their Internet presence through Websites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.  She’s the author of three books and enjoys mentoring emerging writers and teaching at writers’ conferences. An active member of NCWA since 2004, Laura lives in Snohomish with her husband, their two teenage sons, and two gigantic tomato plants.

How to Write a Roundup Blog Post

Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro  continues her series of

fantastic tips for social media and website management.

Roundup blog posts are an effective way to build your reputation as an expert source of information. A roundup post highlights and links to several articles in your niche – they can be articles from your own blog or from other sources.

I like roundups for three reasons:

1.  I do a lot of reading within my industry anyway, and a roundup is a quick, easy way to share what I’m learning. There’s no sense in “reinventing the wheel” by rehashing what others have said; why not refer my readers directly to the source?

Some would argue that sending people away from my blog is counterproductive.

I disagree.

If I consistently deliver helpful content to my readers – even if that content occasionally sends them to someone else’s site – they’ll return to find out what new, juicy tidbits and links I’ll share with them.

2.  Most bloggers check their trackbacks (links to their post from someone else’s blog). Outgoing links can serve as a low-key introduction to a blogger you’d like to get acquainted with. I have formed many wonderful ongoing relationships with bloggers I’ve referred my readers to.

3.  While we bloggers would like to know it all and do it all, we can’t. There is so much expertise in the blogosphere that’s just waiting to be tapped – why not share someone else’s expertise with your own readers?

When to publish roundups

Roundup posts appear most frequently at the end of the year, when everyone writes their “100 best articles of 2010” posts. Buy why not do a roundup post monthly – or even weekly?

Titles

When you title your roundup, identify it as such with phrases such as:

  • Highlights…
  • Best of…
  • Top…

SEO

To get the most “juice” from search engine results, stick closely to your blog’s theme.  And don’t give too many links. I love the idea of “100 best” posts, but I rarely read them because I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of links. I recommend sharing 5-10 links.

Structure

Create a system for sharing links. In the roundup example below, I include:

  • the title of the original article in boldface type
  • introduction that explains the article’s topic
  • brief quote from the article
  • link to the full article (always credit your source)

Sample Roundup

The 5 Most Interesting Social Media Articles From April 2010
Quid pro quo (santa math)

The vast majority of business bloggers are obsessed with ROI – Return on Investment. They wonder, “If I blog, what is my business going to get out of it?”

Seth Godin gets to the heart of why those of us who are passionate about business blogging do it:

You don’t write a blog to get gigs. You don’t help people out in a forum to build a freelance business. Sure, that might happen, but that’s not why you do it. If you are busy calculating quid pro quo, that means your heart isn’t in it, and the math won’t work out anyway.

Click here to read rest of post.
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This post first appeared April 27th, 2010 on Blogging Bistro. Reposted by kind permission.

A relationship marketer for over 25 years, Laura Christianson owns Blogging Bistro, a company that helps people enhance their Internet presence through Websites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.  She’s the author of three books and enjoys mentoring emerging writers and teaching at writers’ conferences. An active member of NCWA since 2004, Laura lives in Snohomish with her husband, their two teenage sons, and two gigantic tomato plants.

How to Create a Custom Subject Line for Feedburner E-Mail Updates

Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro  continues her series of

fantastic tips for social media and website management.

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One of the best ways to build a loyal readership for your blog is to encourage visitors to subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed.

Many bloggers use Feedburner (owned by Google) to manage their blog’s feed. Up until now, people who subscribe to Feedburner blog updates via e-mail have received a generic e-mail whose Subject line reads something like: Blogging Bistro – Latest Updates.

Feedburner just added a new feature: users now can now set up their feed to include a dynamic subject line. I added this feature to Blogging Bistro, so if you subscribe to updates, you’ll see the following in the Subject line:

Blogging Bistro: How to Create a Custom Subject Line for Feedburner E-Mail Updates

It’s a small, but important change. Most people scan their Subject lines before opening an e-mail. I imagine that a Subject line that contains the headline from my most recent post will entice more readers to open it than the bland, “Blogging Bistro – Latest Posts” subject line.

Here’s how to tweak your Feedburner settings so it will create dynamic Subject lines:

  1. Log in to your Feedburner account.
  2. Click “My Feeds” and then click the name of the feed you want to update.
  3. Click the “Publicize” tab.
  4. In the lefthand sidebar, click “Email Subscriptions.”
  5. That’ll open a sub-menu. Still in the left sidebar, click “Email Branding.”
  6. Copy the following line of code and paste it in the form that says, “Email Subject/Title”:

${latestItemTitle}

If you update your blog more than once a day, click the box that says, “Change Subject when an email has 2 or more items” and paste in the following code:

“${latestItemTitle}” plus ${m} more

Here’s a visual to follow:

feedburner-email-branding

Sources:

*Feel free to reprint this post on your own blog. I’ll be happy to e-mail you the HTML, so all you have to do is copy & paste, and the formatting will remain intact. If you reprint it, please include the following byline:

Laura Christianson, aka The Blogging Barista, owns Blogging Bistro (www.BloggingBistro.com), a Seattle-based social media marketing company.

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Posted on July 6, 2009 on Blogging Bistro. Reposted by kind permission.

A relationship marketer for over 25 years, Laura Christianson owns Blogging Bistro, a company that helps people enhance their Internet presence through Websites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.  She’s the author of three books and enjoys mentoring emerging writers and teaching at writers’ conferences. An active member of NCWA since 2004, Laura lives in Snohomish with her husband, their two teenage sons, and two gigantic tomato plants.