Obviously, we go to writing conferences to learn about the industry. But what are some others things we can learn while we’re there?
If you’re planning on attending your first writing conference sometime soon, read this list. It’s everything that I learned last week besides honing my writing skills.
- Know which editors and agents will be at the conference before you go. Memorize their names, what they look like, who they’ve worked with, what genre they’re interested in, the classes they are teaching, etc.
- Check and see if the conference is holding contests. If so, enter them. I signed up late, so I wasn’t able to do this.
- Go there to learn and to network. If this is your main goal at the conference, and if you trust that God is directing you, then I am sure he will surprise you. Seek Him first and all these things will be added unto you (Luke 12:31).
- Sign up for as many appointments as you can. Make sure that you have written down the right times for these appointments. I missed one of my appointments because I had written the time down wrong. These appointments are very important, so double check just to make sure that you’ve gotten the times right.
- If your conference allows you to sit with a faculty member during mealtime, make use of this time. Talk with them. At first, I felt like I should be respectful and leave them alone while they eat. However, I learned that it’s important to make the most out of these mealtimes. Ask them questions, give them your pitch and get to know them. You paid money for the conference, and the reason they are there is to talk with people like you. So talk.
- Be aggressive, but respectful. What I’m saying is, talk with as many authors, agents, and editors as you can, but don’t follow them into the bathroom just to give them your proposal. Respect their time, but use yours wisely.
- Network, network, network. I found many people that live near my small town who invited me to be part of their writing critique group. I had no idea there were critique groups near my area. Also, make sure to have business cards and give them out to as many people as you can.
- Don’t allow exhaustion to cause you not to attend a meeting or meal. The one thing you miss may have led to the opportunity you have been waiting for. Take advantage of every opportunity you can.
- Don’t let others intimidate you, and don’t be nervous. I was surprised to see how much more comfortable it was to be around agents and editors than I thought it would be. They aren’t there to trash your ideas; they’re there to find authors and good story-lines. They’re human too, so don’t let them make you nervous. I forced myself to not feel intimidated, no matter how many times someone would come up to my mom and say, “Aw, you brought your daughter?” Don’t let others hold you back. Just go for it and trust God.
- Ask questions, then listen. This is the same for everyone you meet, not just the faculty. I learned so much from other seasoned writers by doing this.
- Wear comfortable shoes and take a sweater, no matter how hot you think it might be. The conference rooms were freezing at times. Much walking is involved, so make sure the shoes you bring are comfortable. You’ll be going up and down plenty of stairs.
- Tour the campus before classes. You may find shortcuts that you wouldn’t have realized if you didn’t tour.
- Take plenty of pictures. It helps to remember the people you meet if you take their picture while names are still fresh in your head. Don’t wait until the last couple of days to get the camera out like I did… :)
- Last but not least, pray. Seek God first. Ask that he will show you who to speak with, and that you will be at the right place at the right time. Divine connections.
We were given a verse at the beginning of the conference. Memorize this and repeat it during appointments, mealtimes, etc:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
What did you learn at your first conference experience?