With Spring right around the corner, and our New Years Resolutions still echoing through our heads, you may be planning to go to a spring writers conference. If this is your first time or your fifth, here are a few helpful tips and hints for survival. At my first conference I split my pants, had to change into jeans, spilled hot chocolate on my white sweater, and still somehow had a blast. Trust me; Conferences aren’t as scary as we make them in our heads.
• Lower Your Expectations
If you are planning on being discovered by an agent in the lunch line, scheduling a meeting by next week, and having your book published in the next six months, then I want to you take a breath and listen. You may meet the agent of your dreams, anything is possible. More than likely, though, you will learn amazing things from the speakers. Get insights from agents. Even find out the Do’s and Don’ts of Query Letters, Cover Letters, Premises, etc. Look at this as a learning experience. Meet others like yourself. Have Fun.
• Dress professionally yet comfortably.
You will be on your feet some, mingling and meeting of pros in the industry. Business casual will show you in your best light. This is a business and you must treat it as such. No holes in your jeans, no funny phrases on your t-shirts.
• Common Sense
Bring something to write on and a folder Take notes. Listen. Learn. Bring an extra pen or two. Tissues, Breath Mints (garlic bread at lunch?), a sweater, a band aid. • Business card If you have one, keep it simple. Name, contact info, the basics. If you are an Illustrator then your own art is fine, but authors don’t need to distract the agents and editors from who they are. Plus, plain cards give you room to write. (i.e. NAME OF CURRENT BOOK WE JUST DISCUSSED AND THEY SOUNDED INTERESTED) That is more important for them to remember than flowers and butterflies.
• Personal Recommendation
No Perfumes. You will be in close contact with people all day. Some people are highly sensitive to smells. What if the editor is pregnant? Do you want to be the writer who made her laugh or the one who gave her a headache because you smelled like daisies?
• Have fun
Education is a gift. You will be learning about the craft you love. You will be meeting others who get what you are saying when you talk about the POV for a MG Adventure that would be perfect for Random or Penguin. Or that horrible problem of Head Hopping and Tense Issues. Take a deep breath, smile, have fun. Let me know if you have more helpful hints.