Last July I attended the She Speaks conference by Proverbs31 ministries and it was AMAZING. I’ve been to lots of writing/blogging conference in the 3 years I’ve been blogging and this was hands down the most organized, most challenging and most uplifting conference I’ve been to!
These ladies BRING IT when it comes to putting on conference. The swag is gorgeous & the decor is amazing! However, I had one MAJOR struggle in heading to this much anticipated learning retreat. I had made 2 publisher appointments and I had no idea how to prepare for them.
If you are like me and one of the draws to the conference for you is getting a 15 minute face to face with an acquisitions editor from a Christian publishing house I wanted to write this post to help you prepare as much as I can help.
Frankly, when I was preparing I had a hard time finding anything out there on what to expect because not many bloggers were writing about it. In fact Google didn’t even know what a “One Page” was that they kept talking about so here’s my guide on how to prepare your heart, mind and One Page pitch/proposal for She Speaks. I hope it helps ease your tension and worry and gives you some ideas on how to prepare! So here’s my guide to preparing your heart, one page & tote bag for the She Speaks Conference.
My She Speaks Success Story:
As I write this post, I’m 24 months down the road from my first She Speaks Conference. My agent Blythe Daniel, whom I met in the hallways of the She Speaks hotel, secured a book contract for me with Harvest House Publishers in July 2016. I had 6 months to complete the manuscript and now the book will released in October of 2017! You can read about and even pre-order the book now on Amazon for 43% off! I had the privilege to write Live. Save. Spend. Repeat.: The Life You Want with the Money You Have.
Preparing Your Heart & Mind
She speaks is one of the most emotional conferences that I have ever been to. First and foremost, you feel uplifted and encouraged the entire time you are there. I mean, these ladies are preparing a place for you not only to learn but for you to enter into God’s presence and have a little one on one time with Him. It’s powerful to combine your dreams, your goals and your calling with a conference that reaches your heart and your head.
On the flip side, it’s highly emotional in that whether you are on the speaking track or the writing track you will be putting your heart and soul out on the table and getting feedback from other people. It’s an iron sharpens iron kind of mentality.
In addition to actually speaking in front of peers or having peers review your writing, if you’ve signed up for a publisher appointment your about to pitch a story that’s a part of you to someone who could put that story into the hands of thousands of readers.
You feel that pressure.
And since publisher appointments are every 15 minutes, people all over the building are having their hopes and dreams either coming true or being dashed to pieces. There are tears and hugs happening all around you.
Knowing What to Expect from Publisher’s Appointments:
The year that I attended I noted on my registration that I was interested in getting a publishing appointment. Several weeks before the conference I got an email asking me to review the publishers needs, pray about which one I wanted to meet with and then choose my top picks in order of the ones I wanted to meet with most. Then a P31 team reviews your requests and gives you 2 meeting slots during the conference that they email you a confirmation for.
These slots with publishers are 15 minutes on the dot and they don’t mess around. When you arrive at the designated room for your meeting you will check in with a volunteer at the desk outside the room. Right before your appointment you’ll see the volunteer disappear into the room and escort the person before you out. Then they will escort you in and the timer starts. You’ve got exactly 15 minutes to pitch your idea to the acquisitions editor of that publishing house.
What’s it like on the “inside”:
When I attended, I sat at a small round cafe table covered in a nice table cloth face to face with the editor. (You’re close enough to each other that I would recommend popping a breath mint before your appointment).
Typically speaking, you are in a room that is divided by a curtain and on the other side of the curtain is another author pitching to a different publishing house.
It will not be a totally private sit down but I didn’t feel that the other people behind the curtain were a distraction. I was too nervous to worry about them.
The editor will typically want to just see your “One Page” pitch. I’ll dive more into that later. I did throw together some proposals just in case but no one really had time to see those. Check your publisher meeting instructions. When you sign up for the appointment, the publishing house indicates if they want to see full proposals or just one page pitches.
What Publishers Are Looking For:
The world of publishing has really changed over the years. Publishing houses are looking for fresh ideas but also heavily weigh what kind of “platform” you have already created to be able to market yourself!
“Platform” is a word you are going to hear a lot around the conference and what that basically means is this: have you created some kind of following on a blog, podcast, YouTube Channel or something of the like where you already have your own audience of readers, watchers or listeners? That really doesn’t include things like a personal Facebook page of 500 friends or if you speak at your church of 300 members each week. They are looking for someone who has a solid following with some impressive numbers to back it up.
They want you to be able to leverage your own book as much they leverage your book.
If you want a better understanding of what Publishers want I highly encourage you to listen to this 20 minute free podcast titled: How Book Publishing Has Changed and What It Means For You by Michael Hyatt (New York Times Best Selling Author who was also the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers). It will give you great insight and understanding before you go into the meeting and start prepping.
Typically speaking there are several outcomes to Publisher Meetings:
- They love your idea and ask for you to follow up by sending your full book proposal to them after the conference.
- They let you know you’re idea is good but that you are missing some key things they are looking for in order to take you on. They will usually outline these things for you.
- They tell you a gentle no and offer advice on how to proceed, tweak or grow.
After what seems like only seconds the volunteer will come in and escort you out.
You have to decide what you’ll do with the information you’ve been given.
Remember, these are professional people who understand the industry.
If you get nothing else out of your 15 minutes, take it as the amazing opportunity it is to ask questions and grow rather than shut down. If you’ll take their advice you might just have a second chance down the road to pitch again!
The only down side to the conference is that these appointments either send people through the roof with joy or bring them crashing to reality. Sometimes that reality is HARD. I hugged lots of necks and encouraged lots of crying women. It’s hard to be told a no to your dream but when you put yourself out there, it’s a real possibility.
So prepare your heart and know that even if you believe this is your calling in life and you believe God told you this book would be published, you may still get a “No”. And if you do, you’ve got know that it’s probably more like a “Not now”. Lisa Teurkest was told no multiple times when she started and here she is today with tons of books published simply because she kept going.
Prepare your heart to keep going no matter how your appointment goes.
What About Meeting with An Agent?
So the flip side is that if you’d rather meet with a literary agent, you can do that at the conference instead of meeting with a publisher. Literary agents are professionals who know the in’s and out’s of the publishing world. They act as an intermediary for you and publishers and yes they do get a cut of your advance and royalties and whatever you agree to if you get a book deal. One important thing to note is that Publishers take literary agent submissions pretty seriously. If a literary agent turns in your proposal they know work has been done and that it’s not a waste of their time. Publishers trust agents.
Originally when I went to She Speaks I didn’t want to meet with an agent and because I didn’t get it. Why not cut out the middle man I thought. But what I know now has changed that viewpoint completely!
My personal Publisher Appointment Experience:
Meeting 1 Outcome: Great! We like this idea, send us the proposal, here’s all the information.
Meeting 2 Outcome: Your ideas are good but we just don’t need a book like this at this time. My recommendation is that you hire yourself a literary agent.
So what I decided to do was take the advice from meeting 2 and apply ASAP. That night at dinner a friend of mine was talking to me about agents and pointed out one in particular that she would love to meet with but whose entire schedule was booked up.
It just so happened that I saw that agent and got into a conversation with her in the lobby that very night at 11:00 pm and after a random, chance meeting- she signed me.
And that’s the power of not hiding away in your room during the conference. Talk to people, mingle & network. That’s what you’re paying money to be there for!
Knowing What I Know Now…
Knowing what I know now, even though I had the green light to submit something to a publisher on my own, the puny mess of a proposal that I put together myself would have never made the cut.
My literary agent went over it with a fine tooth comb. She encouraged me, challenged me and help me mold a 29 page proposal and 2 full chapters that were presentable. I don’t know if I’ll get a book deal but I can tell you that it was worth it. Every email, every revision, every edit, every tweak was totally worth it. My agent is awesome and wouldn’t change a thing about my decision.
She sent my book out to many, many more publishers than I could have on my own, got it to the key decision makers and they took it seriously. Even if I got a “no”.
You can do whatever you choose to do whether you meet with 2 publishers, 2 agents or one of each. You might not need a literary agent. One thing I did do was seek council from my speaking breakout coach (author Suzie Eller image below) who gave me great advice and insight. Be sure to take advantage of some of the people you meet at the conference and glean what you can from their own professional experience.
Preparing Your One Page
Okay so this may be the only part of this post that you even care about! When I first got my publisher appointment everyone kept talking about a one page and when I tried to get a head start on making mine the internet had nothing to offer me!
On the other hand P31 does two calls that you can join that will break down how to prepare for your appointment and also talk about proposals and one pages. If you miss the call it’s okay because they record them. It was $35 to attend a call but I felt it was worth it.
One Page vs. Proposals
Think of a One Page as a resume for you and your book idea. It’s minimizing your thoughts, book ideas and bio down to one single page. If you purchase the training calls with P31 they usually send you some samples and break it down for you.
Proposals on the other hand are the whole shebang. When I showed up at She Speaks the one I threw together was about 15 pages long. When I started working the my literary agent she kindly informed me that my 15 pages wasn’t going to cut it. In fact the proposal that I wrote that got sent out to publishers this summer was 29 pages long without the 2 full chapters I attached. It’s got your premise, your marketing plan, a detailed overview of every chapter and so much more.
How To Make a One Page-
- Hire a Designer- if you have the budget you could send a designer the text details and they can create a beautiful design for you.
- Make It Yourself-
I made mine using Canva.com. It’s free (unless you use stock photos or templates which are only $1 each). It was easy to edit and create a pdf from so I could print it and email it.
You could also use a program like Microsoft Publisher or even more advanced Adobe Photoshop.
What Information Do You Need on a One Page-
- Include Title & Subtitle.
- Premise –The Hook- What need does it meet? What are you saying that no one else is saying? It needs to be unique.
- Give overview and chapter outline of book. (Don’t just list chapters – give a one-sentence description for each)
- Include info like:
- Who’s your target audience/ages.
- How many pages will the book be?
- How you will reach the target audience (groups you belong to, groups you can tap into, etc.)
- Include your own brief bio.
- Include information about your “platform” including your blog, social media stats, endorsers, and online groups you are a part of or outlets you write for. Show unique visitors per month, viral reach of your biggest post, etc.
Here’s a blank template example of one I made using Canva. No matter how you design it, the goal is to have the key information you need to plug into it! If you don’t feel like a super graphic design kind of person, consider paying $1 to use a pre-made “menu” template that creators on Canva have made.
How Many Do You Need?
I took about 5 copies of each One Page just in case.
I had 2 book ideas so I made 2 different One Pages in case they hated one and like the other. When I got into my meeting I pulled out both and let the person I was meeting with know I had two ideas. I gave a VERY brief overview of what each one was about and asked which they wanted me to proceed with.
Prepare Your Tote Bag:
The moment you walk into that building decide on several things:
- You will talk to people you don’t know.
- This is not a competition and everyone is there to learn.
- You will not compare yourself to anyone! That means looks, dress, shoes, bags, hair, nails or even their speaking or writing experience.
- You will leave all your worries at the door.
As far as preparing your tote bag for the day here’s what you need to know:
- These conference is sooo good that when you check in they give you a spiral bound notebook tailored just for you and your pre-chosen schedule. There are pages for notes in every session and the notebook is your ultimate guide to the conference. Where to be, where to go and what to expect.
- They will provide you with a lanyard and name tag. Last year the lanyards were actually gorgeous beaded necklaces that the tag could be easily removed from. I still wear mine all the time. I think they know that women dress up and they don’t like to have tacky tweed lanyards bringing their style down so they made them fashionable! (Another example of how they go above & beyond).
- If you chose the speaking tract or writing track and are taking advantage of the peer critique sessions, be sure you have your pre-prepped speech or writing sample in your bag, ready to go.
- Bring some money honey because there are tons of authors selling their books, signing their books as well as other “shopping” opportunities in the market area.
- Breath Mints
- Tissues (You will probably need these at least once).
- Snacks in case you get hungry between sessions.
- I highly recommend getting some cool business cards before you go just so you can keep up with people as you network. Most women have them and if you don’t, you’ll probably feel left out. The cheapest ones with fabulous designs are found on Vistaprint.com. As a creative writer or speaker, it’s okay to have fun looking business cards. I always include my headshot on my cards so people remember me after the event.
What to Wear:
I wore dressy business casual. There is lots of sitting and lots of walking. I chose outfits that I specifically felt AMAZING in that included fashionable dressy jeans and nice dressy blouses. People will come dressed in Sunday best too. It’s kind of up to you. You know, if you decide to wear Jeans and 5K t-shirt you will feel very underdressed.
I also chose cute flats to keep my feet happy all day. If you wear heels and can work that all day, go for it!
If you feel you want a better handle on what to wear for your body size, shape and skin so you know what to wear and what colors look best on you, I highly recommend reading: Help Me, Jesus! I Have Nothing to Wear!: The Go-To Guide for All Shapes and Sizes (affiliate link). The author was at She Speaks last year!
I hope that you have found this post helpful as you pack your bags, prepare your writings or speeches and especially as you get your One Page together. If you have questions or anything to add of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments!
I would say, look me up when you get there but I’m expecting twins in July 27th so I won’t be leaving my house in Atlanta for awhile! Hope you have an amazing time and be open to learning, receiving, sharing and getting to know other fabulous women!