Proposing Sessions at Conferences

I love going to conferences.Reading. Library. Social Studies. As an author, it’s the best way to meet dedicated teachers, librarians and decision-makers.

Sometimes, invitations are sent my way. For example, last week, I presented workshops at a summer literacy workshop for K-12 educators sponsored by the California Reading and Literature Project at California Lutheran University. My two sessions included teachers, principals, and even an assistant superintendent. These are my people! Influencers. Kid-lovers. And I had a chance to show them, using examples from my books, strategies for research and revision that I’ve learned from years of being a children’s author.

But you don’t have to wait for invitations. Be proactive. Make a list of national organizations that serve a population that would benefit from your book. Also search for contact information for their local affiliates (i.e for the International Reading Association, state affiliate is the California Reading Association and my county affiliate is the Ventura County Reading Association). Find out when they hold their conferences and submit a proposal. But don’t just focus on the reading and library conferences. Seek out organizations that relate to the content hooks in your book – math, science, history.

About proposals. When you submit a proposal independently to conference organizers, consider putting together a team. I used to evaluate proposals for a national conference for teachers. My boss leaned toward ones that had more than one presenter. Why? Because it meant more bodies at the conference, more income for the organization. So consider inviting a local university person, librarian or bookseller to moderate a panel of authors on a topic related to the conference’s theme.

If you’re having difficulty breaking in, study past conference programs and contact the author presenters to see how they landed a session. Ask them for advice. Ask for advice, too, from local teachers or librarians.  What slant would appeal to them most? Authors sharing research techniques? Writing techniques? Revision techniques? Do a little digging and you’ll come up with some nuggets.

 NOTE: See related post on 01-01-13, Focus Your Gig-Getting Energies in the New Year   

(My thanks to Mary Cronk Farrell, author of Journey to the Top of the World: How One Woman Found the Courage and Commitment to Climb Mount Everest, for the inspiration for this post!) 


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5 Comments on “Proposing Sessions at Conferences”

  • Hi Alexis,
    Thanks for this information. I have a new book coming out next year which I think will appeal to teachers and librarians, so this is great advice.

    My book is for teenagers and it’s called PURE GRIT: HOW AMERICAN MILITARY NURSES SURVIVED WAR IN THE PACIFIC AND JAPANESE PRISON CAMP. I have found it more difficult to get school visits with 7-12 grades, than K-6. Do you have any advice on that?

  • Hi Mary – Visits in middle and high schools are tough to get, mostly because of the difficult scheduling issue with kids traveling from class to class. You might consider offering virtual visits on Skype or Google rather than in-person visits in schools. You should also check out service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Assistance Leagues, etc.) and veterans oragnizations and do talks at their meetings. Some will have teens at home and your book can open up discussion about how their families served during war time. These organizations generally don’t offer an honorarium, but you can offer a book sale to them. Suggest that they buy copies to donate to the local schools, libraries and Boys & Girls Clubs. This will help get the word out. You’ve got great potential with your new book!

  • Thanks Alexis,

    I appreciate your suggestions!

  • Mary – There’s one more thing I want to add. Try to hook into the conference theme when you submit your proposal. Organizers put a lot of thought into choosing a theme, and they appreciate it when your proposals recognize that and weave it into content.

  • Thanks, Alexis! Appreciate your advice.

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