Conference Behaviors

As I am getting ready to attend my favorite writer’s conference, I need to remind myself of how to get the most from the experience. You’d think by now that I’d have it down pat, but because I am essentially a shy person at heart, I need to keep in mind all the tips that I’m going to share.

First of all, come prepared. Make sure you have paper and pens for notetaking. If reading materials have been provided, make sure that you have read them!

Convince yourself that no matter how shy you are, don’t sit there with your mouth shut. If you have questions, ask them. If you want to make a comment, do so. Introduce yourself to total strangers. Walk up to them or lean over when seated and give your name, ask theirs, ask what they’re working on and share your work as well.

Participate whenever there is an opportunity to do so. If there are panel discussions, ask one clarifying question. If there is a chance to read, do so. If you can submit a work for critique, so it.

Step outside your genre whenever possible. While you might not write poetry, you can learn something. Maybe memoir is not your thing, but they might talk about pace, backstory, and dialogue, things you need to relearn.

Take advantage of any opportunities to meet one-on-one with professionals, even if it means paying for the privilege. This is your chance to solicit advice from the very people who are there looking for new clients.

After the conference is over, stay in touch with friends you meet there. I have been blessed to have several good friends that I met at the same conference that I am going to this week. Many of us have been meeting regularly over a period of five years. It’s been a blessing that’s worth every moment spent on the road to see them.

Lastly, don’t feel that you have to do everything offered. You can’t pop into every session for a few moments and think you can walk away with gems that will influence your work. Be reasonable and make the best choices that you can. If it works out, great. If it’s not working and there’s a break, don’t be afraid to walk out. Your time is valuable.

You also need time to rest. Learning is exhausting. If you are too tired to process, go back to the hotel or go for a walk. It’s okay.

I hope this helps you as much as it helps me. Now I am ready!

What I Hope to Get Out of Conferences

Today is the first day of a major conference in San Francisco. I will have the opportunity to sit in a variety of seminars, all geared for the “wannabe” writer.

There are sessions on publishing, which I’m nowhere near needing, to beginning the first novel, which hopefully I’m long past.

On one of the days I can sign up for a free eight minute session with a publisher, author coach or editor. Last year I met an author coach who read my entire manuscript, for a fee, and helped clean up the rough edges.

I also had eight minutes with an editor, who used more ink deleting sentences than I had used printed them. It was terrifying to watch her pen zipping around my page!  I did not hire her.

This year I am going to meet with a different editor and see how that goes. I realize that my novel is a bit lengthy, so I’m sure there are places where scenes can be eliminated or condensed, but I hope that there is much to be saved.

There will be guest speakers who are all published authors. I’m to the point now where I’ve heard so many success stories that I’m not sure I want to hear any more, but there might be something to be gleaned.

The best part of the next four days will be the opportunity to mingle with agents. Last year I met six who wanted me to send them a query. Of those, only one requested more information. Eventually she turned me down.

What I hope is that there is one who will be interested enough in my book to want to publish it. Not a small wish, but it’s that main reason that I spent the money to register and will travel by BART and cable car to the conference.

My dream is to one day walk into a bookstore, or log on to Amazon, and see my book. What an amazing thing that would be!

Keep your fingers crossed that I will learn the secrets to success, hear something that will open the door to publication, meet the right editor and agent, and that all will be good.