April 24-26 the American Society of Journalists and Authors hosted their 43rd annual writer’s conference in NYC. This year’s Expanding Your Reach conference was designed to help writers do just that – with workshops that range from “Sassy Sentences and Wicked Good Prose” to “Podium Power: How to Give Speeches to Promote Your Books and Boost Your Income”. Having attended the conference, I left NY with a wealth of knowledge that I am happy to share with you all.
There were a wide variety of topics to choose from on the schedule. Some of the workshops I chose to attend were directly related to my goals as a freelance writer, others not so much. But overall, I found that no matter what the topic at hand I found a new tool for my writer toolkit. I live tweeted several of those gems on my Twitter account. You may also check #asja2014 for other perspectives.
The list below is comprised of all the things I learned that seemed to echo throughout the day –
Personalize: Whether it is a pitch letter, letter of interest, or a book query you need to ensure it is tailored to the recipient. Include details about their previous works or the works of their company. Google the person you are addressing the letter to – do they have a dog they adore? Ask how the dog is adjusting to doggy day care! The more personal the context, the more likely they are to respond.
Look Forward: Don’t bother repeating what is already being said. Understand trends and how your writing is connected to those new exciting ideas. When your writing uses examples of past events/situations connect them to a present idea or future trend.
Google +: Social media is a great tool to use in order to remain connected to your audience and provide content. But let’s face it, Facebook is fading fast. One of the fastest growing social media outlets is Google +. If you do not already have a Gmail address get one and use it at least once per day to engage with your audience.
Be Authentic: People need to feel connected to you as a person in order to consider buying what you are selling. What is your message? Does it reflect who you are as an individual? What makes it relatable? Are you a viable subject matter expert?
Build an Email List: Stay in front if your audience. If you give them the opportunity to forget about you, they will. A weekly, or bi-weekly, email is a great way to both educate and remain in touch with your audience. It also gives you an opportunity to expand your reach without even trying – if you provide great content they will undoubtedly share that email within their networks.
Learn to Accept Rejection: You have to be okay with someone turning the page, or closing the window. Not everyone will love what you’ve written. “In six hours, there might be a different story that appeals to them” – @amyrushlow.
Your Excitement is Contagious: Be excited about the things that you are writing! When you are passionate about your subject matter, readers are more engaged. This advice applies to your pitches as well. If you go to editors with really great pitches, whether they are picked up or not, they will keep you in mind when future opportunities arise.
The wisdom to certainly doesn’t stop there. For access to all the audio from the conference subscribe to the ASJA mailing list.