I’ll be attending my first writing conference in a couple of weeks, and have scoured the internet looking for tips on what to expect. Some suggestions I’ve read are simply common sense: be professional; be prepared to take advantage of opportunities to pitch your work; be friendly; turn off your cell phone.
I came across a few ideas, though, that aren’t so obvious. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, too.
1. Go with a particular goal in mind, but keep your expectations low.
You’ll probably not get a contract out of it, but you may get some feedback on your writing. Even if you don’t, this is an opportunity to network and to learn from people who know what they’re doing.
2. Bring business cards.
Apparently people exchange cards with their contact information as a way to network. Use the back of the ones you get from other people for notes that will remind you of who they are and why you took their card.
3. Research the speakers, agents and editors that will be there.
Your chances of finding someone to represent you or give you helpful feedback will increase if you know which ones represent the type of writing you do. You’ll also be better prepared to talk to them if you meet them at dinner or during a break.
4. Think up a few conversation starters so you’ll be more comfortable talking to strangers.
One I frequently use is: “Excuse me. I’m lost. Could you tell me where to find (insert appropriate place)?” Or how about, “I’m having a wonderful time here. What about you?”
5. Bring something you’d like to have critiqued—but not your whole novel.
Some conferences provide opportunities for people to read and discuss each other’s work. Also, agents and/or editors may ask to see something you’ve written, so be prepared for the possibility.
6. Practice talking about yourself and your writing.
You want to make a good first impression, so think of something interesting to say in response to questions such as, “What type of writing do you do?” “Tell me a little about yourself.” “Are you enjoying the conference?” “Haven’t I met you before?”
7. Smile. 🙂
Do you agree with the tips I’ve mentioned? What’s the most important advice you’d give someone attending her first conference? What should I not do while I’m there? Have you ever attended the Indianapolis Christian Writer’s Conference? Are you going to be there this year?