Conference Tips (Especially for the Less Experienced Conference-Goer):
A Guest Post by Jane Makuch...
As a follow-up to my recent post on upcoming events, today I offer some tips for attending conferences. What follows are some lessons learned by a relatively new conference-goer Jane Makuch who I met at our Writer's Digest Editor's Intensive in September. Jane will also be attending the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference and the pre-conference Writers Intensive. She's currently revising a YA manuscript.
JANE'S CONFERENCE TIPS
So many of us spend lots of money and want to do the "right" thing at conferences, but we're so often on the outside looking in. I've spent countless hours looking for do's and don't and know I still have so much to learn. Some things I have learned that I think will be helpful are:
- Develop a 30-second pitch. Not just for agents and editors, but also the dozens of times other attendees ask, "What's your book about?"
- Develop a 2-minute pitch for one-on-ones. So many new conference goers seem to think they need to spend the 10 or 15 precious minutes talking instead of interacting, answering questions and listening.
- This might be elementary, but be presentable. Fit the part--show up showered and well dressed. I've been rather surprised by the lack of hygiene, sweatpants, and dirty toenails sticking out of the end of sandals...eewww! Clean and pressed doesn't have to mean expensive, but it does show professionalism.
- No answering cell phones during classes. (Turn them off, or at least mute them.)
- No talking to neighbors during a sessions because you're bored or scared or overwhelmed. They paid to be there also.
- Have calling/business cards. Vistaprints.com has very inexpensive cards with quick delivery. Put blog and twitter addresses on them and use a nice size, readable font.
- Ask people you meet at conference for their business cards. (Jot notes on the back so you can remember where/when you met them.)
- Research the speakers ahead of time. Do you know of an agent who would be great to meet? If you have a polished manuscript, be ready to ask if you could query them. Then mention in your query that you met them at the conference.
- Don't be bossy or rude. Never ambush an agent or editor. No knocking on bathroom stalls or hotel rooms!
- You can't go wrong with a more formal etiquette. Kindness and respect will most likely get you noticed when presenting yourself with confidence and professionalism.
What's your best advice for getting the most out of a conference? Leave a comment!