Conference Checklist

April 7, 2008 at 7:34 am | Posted in Jessica, writing | 3 Comments

There are a number of RWA Chapter and regional conferences that take place in April so I thought it might be helpful and timely to share some conference tips acquired from over the years.  Here are some quick quips, in no particular order:

1. Dress Professionally.
Writing conferences are a huge, fun, social event.  But it is also a gathering of our profession.  Be conscious of the impression you want to make.

2. Dress in Layers.
The temperatures in the hotels tend to be on the cooler side, no matter what the season.

3. Wear Comfy Shoes.
You wouldn’t think that walking from conference room to conference room within the same hotel would take such a toll, but there is more schlepping than one would expect. Take good care of your feet! 

4. Bring Comfort Clothes.
You’ll want something comfortable to lounge in at the end of the day or for venturing outside the conference venue.

5. Keep Hydrated.
Drink plenty of water.  If possible, find a nearby grocery or convenience store and buy water, Diet Coke, snacks, [fill in your own brand of snacking necessities here], for your quick nosh during the day.  The Hotel will charge too much for these items, if available at all.

6. Fashion a Supply Kit.
Receipt holder. Pads of paper. Pens. Pencils. Post-it notes. Blank note cards. Stamps. Business Cards.  Paper clips.  Binder Clips.  Highlighter. Tylenol. Chapstick. Band-aids. Safety pins.

7. Buyer Beware. 
It’s tempting to go overboard in buying books!  If you indulge, know that you can ship the books back home (with mixed results).  Better yet, pack an extra carry-on bag and carry them home.

8. Stay Connected.
Have cell phone will travel.  Exchange cell phone numbers with your writing buddies.  You never know when you’ll need to find a familiar face in that huge crowd.  And pack your charger.

9. Smile and Nod.
If you are approachable, the networking opportunities may come to you!

10. You Don’t Have to Go to Everything!
Schedule some time to get away to recharge your batteries every day.

11. Go to Any Workshop Given by Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips . . .
. . . or any sessions at your respective conferences that may not be taped. The great thing about conferences is that most chapters arrange to have the sessions recorded for later purchase in either audio CD or MP3 format. If there are two sessions in one time slot and you can’t decide which to attend, choose the one not being taped and purchase the other.

12. Practice Sensible Etiquette.
Don’t pitch your manuscript to the editor of your dreams from the bathroom stall next to hers.  See #1. Be conscious of the impression you want to make.

Remember that there are eyes and ears all around you.  If you have a rant or criticism that just cannot wait, find a private place and a trusted friend with whom to share it.

13. Bring cash.
Think of the bar as the conference golf course – a lot of networking and business take place on these links so even a little time logged in this social setting can have great and unexpected benefits.

14. Have Faith in Yourself.
If you are aware of what’s going on in the industry and your genre, or who’s writing what, or even if you have just started writing your first book, you can talk about anything with anyone. Don’t underestimate yourself!  

In the comments section on Friday, I recommended a post on Conference Etiquette from Jessica Faust from Book Ends LLC, which shared some insight from an agent’s perspective — a perspective that I think is helpful for first-time attendees to read for advice and conference veterans to read as a refresher.

And if it helps, here are a few of the April conferences taking place:

Desert Rose RWA – Desert Dreams Conference. April 4-6, 2008.

Dallas Area Romance Authors – Dreamin’ in Dallas Conference. April 4-6, 2008.

RWA-New England Chapter – Let Your Imagination Take Flight. April 11-12, 2008.

Gulf Coast Romance Writers – Silken Sands Writers Conference. April 11-13, 2008.

Kansas Writers Association – Scene of the Crime Conference. April 11-13, 2008.

Romantic Times Book Convention. April 16-20, 2008.

Chicago-North RWA – Spring Fling Writers’ Conference. April 25-26, 2008.

Malice Domestic. April 25-27, 2008.

If I have missed any conferences, please share them in the comments section . . . and if you have any other conference advice, we would love for you to share your input.

For all the attendees, I wish you fun and successful conference-going. Go forth and write!





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