A friend who is heading for a writers conference next month asked if I had any advice, and since it’s not the first time I’ve been asked:
2. Choose Your Own Path.
Do everything that looks appealing. Skip anything that doesn’t. Writers conferences can be exhausting, and a little downtime can be restorative.
3. Bring Your Elevator Pitch.
Two sentences. Short. Vivid. Punchy. Rehearse it. Agents and editors have been known to hang out at these conferences, and first impressions matter. Even your friends will thank you, as your mother really doesn’t want the 1/2 hour explanation of your book, even if she pretends she does. If the two sentences appeal, people will ask for more, or better yet, ask to read.
4. Tuck Business Cards into your Lanyard Badge.
Or wherever else they will be handy. Swap cards with everyone you meet, so you can connect later.
5. Read the Participating Writers’ Books.
You won’t likely be able to read the books of every author presenting at your conference, of course, but reading around in the writers’ works will help you decide with whom to study (if you’re given a choice) and which panels to attend. Writers tend to be a generous bunch, but conversations that start “I haven’t read your books, but…” tend to be considerably shorter than ones that start “I loved [insert title here] — especially [something specific, and preferably flattering].”
And most importantly…
6. Be yourself, and try not to be shy.
Many of my closest writer-pals are people I’ve met at conferences, and those friendships go a LONG way to keeping us all sane. Most of those I’m closest to are friendships that began before any of us were published.
If you have other tips, please share them in the comments. And if you’re going to be at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference, do come say hello! I promise I will be nice. And I have some swanky new business cards with The Wednesday Sisters cover on one side and The Wednesday Daughters cover on the other; I’ll be happy to tell you where I get them done. - Meg