Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Do’s and Don’ts of Attending Writing Conferences

The fourth week of September is a week that over seven hundred Christian editors, agents, authors, (and author wannabes) are eagerly anticipating. Why? Because it’s the annual ACFW conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This conference is a time to meet new friends, listen to great speakers, meet with agents and editors, and possibly garner serious interest in our work.

After attending a great writing conference last year, and gearing up for this one, I’ve come up with some Do’s and Don’ts for writers to keep in mind when attending conferences. So here goes:

Meeting Agents And Editors
DON’T: Compare yourself to other authors and suggest you write better. If your new and just starting out, your not the next Tracie Peterson.
DON’T: Monopolize their time and stalk their every move. Just because they hold the power to publish your novel doesn’t mean they’re not people too, and like everyone else need some down time. Show them the same consideration you would want to be shown, if the roles were reversed.
DO: Have a succinct 30 second pitch, a professional looking one sheet, business cards, and an open mind.
DO: Send out thank you notes after the conference to those agents and editors you spoke to.

Packing and Attire
DON’T: Forget your laptop and thumbdrive in case you need to make extra copies. While I don’t know about other conference faculties, the Hyatt is equipped with a full business center.
DON’T: Wear high heels if you’re not accustomed to walking in them. Falling at the feet of an agent and editor might not be the best way to pitch your book. Unless that is, you want to leave an impression they won’t soon forget.
DO: Dress for success. Comfortable business casual for the conference, and a nice dress or suit for the gala. While everyone is different, I feel much more sure of myself if I’m dressed as professionally as I can be.
DO: Make a packing list before you go and check things off as you put them in your suitcase. That way you’re not frazzled because you forgot your toothbrush or worse yet your business cards.

Nerves And Introvert Writers (of which I am one)
DON’T: Be shy. Stepping out of your comfort zone to meet new people is well worth the effort. They're all writing fanatics like yourself so it should be like writers heaven!!~
DON’T: Stay up late. Getting as well rested as you possibly can regenerates and refreshes you, thus calming your nerves.
DO: Make new friends. Ask people to sit with you and stop to talk with people you’ve never met. Who knows what great friendship might ensue.
DO: Smile. Smiling works great to relieve tension. Not to mention it’s fun to pretend your smiling for the picture on the back of your book cover.


DON’T: Try to do everything. Skipping a workshop to take a break and socialize is worth it if you are getting bogged down. Most conferences tape each workshop so you can buy what you miss.
DO: Pick workshops that reflect your writing goals for the coming year. At ACFW there are many great workshops on all sorts of various topics: dialogue, characterization and even some genre specific classes like a workshop on writing YA, and another on writing romance.
DO: Take time afterward to talk to the instructor. I’ve made a lot of great friends this way. Most instructors will love answering your questions and getting to know about you and your writing.
DO: Take notes, notes, and more notes. I still re-read my notes from the last conference I attended and it’s always a great refresher.

These are only a few tips, and I’m sure many of you could add more to the list. As Christians probably the most important thing we could do is cover the conference in prayer. The ACFW is my second writing conference, and as the event approaches I’m both excited and nervous! I pray that God will direct me to what He would like me to gain by attending.

Tune in next week for another post on the conference and a chance to win a Starbucks gift card which can be used at either the Hyatt or in your own hometown. This is a great giveaway so spread the word!!

Your Turn- Is there any conference do’s and don’ts you’ve found particularly useful? Please share!

1 comment :

Roseanna White said...

These are all great suggestions, Amanda. I can think of only one more, which goes hand in hand with all you've said.

DON'T focus on your expectations--focus on God's.

I have been so extraordinarily blessed through writers conferences. I met my best friend at the ACFW '07 conference, my first agent at the same one, several editors I still regularly communicate with . . . there's just nothing like being in a place with so many like-minded, God-loving people. =)

Can't wait to see you there!