Session and Speaker Preview: Vanessa Robins, The Do’s And Don’ts of Query Letters

vanessa-robinsIn addition to her work as a Barnes & Noble bookseller and sous chef at a local cafe, Vanessa Robins is a literary intern at Corvisiero Literary Agency and a reader for Hippocampus Magazine. She also served as the managing editor of her college’s undergraduate literary magazine, The York Review. In The Do’s And Don’ts of Query Letters, Vanessa will be sharing the secrets to what agents want to see on their desks and in their inboxes. She talked to us about returning to HippoCamp as a presenter.

Hippocampus: We don’t want to give too much away about your session, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Vanessa: In my lightning round I’ll be practicing what I preach, keep it short and simple! I’ll give you the tips you need to create the best query letter possible. My first tip? Always double check you spelled the recipient’s name right.

What is your best advice for those attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?

So HippoCamp 2015 was my first writing conference. I was bright and shiny and scared out of my mind. There were two things that have helped me the most with my first conference, and I think veterans can even use this too!

First, make a game plan. There’s so much going on at this conference that you have to pick out which sessions are going to be the most valuable for you. Last year, the first few pages of my notebook were just my schedule that I had personalized for my needs and wants.

Second, don’t hang out with your friends the entire conference. As much as you want to catch up with the ones you know and love, breaking out of your shell is so important. Sit next to strangers, ask someone where they’re going for dinner, and definitely go to the open mic nights and hear new voices!

Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the HippoCamp?

Being 100% honest right now, the food. Donna and the conference planners put so much thought into this conference, but especially the local food and Lancaster county specialties. The location of the conference right next to Lancaster Market is a gift to all conference goers. Plus, all the snack and coffee breaks put everyone in their happy places!

Please share why you’re excited to return for another year.

So I’m a returning attendee and a first-time HippoCamp speaker. Of the six conferences I’m slated to attend this year, HippoCamp is by far the one I’m most excited for. I mean, I have a home field advantage on this one! I get to meet local and out-of-state writers who love Lancaster county just as much as I do! Not to mention, I’m officially looking for authors to sign and I’m on the hunt for the awesome writers I know Lancaster county produces.

What’s on your personal conference agenda?

This is such a hard question! Last year I changed my schedule almost daily up until the day before the conference started. Right now one of the sessions I have listed as a must attend is How to be Funny in Creative Nonfiction (Or, Loosen the Fu*k Up!) with Amy Fish and Christoph Paul. This session is guaranteed to be filled with truth, knowledge, and a ton of laughter!

As a Lancaster resident, what are you most excited to share with attendees and other speakers?

So, as I’ve said before, I’m a born and raised Lancastrian. I have to tell you, no matter how gorgeous you think the city is, you have to get lost in the countryside. I urge you to physically get lost. Drive to Southern Lancaster county (Quaryyville works just great) and turn off your phone and just drive for a while. Look at the countryside, visit roadside stands, and maybe even get out for a walk! When you’re ready to go, turn on your phone or GPS and get “unlost”! It’s such a unique area of the country that you’ll regret it if you don’t get to experience it.

Register today to experience HippoCamp 2016 with us this August.