If you’re attending your first writer’s conference, I thought I’d give you a few guidelines that I learned the hard way.
DO be prepared. – The first time I went to a conference, I got up on the morning of, threw three copies of my first chapter and synopsis into my purse, and headed off. Optimistic, much? Because I waited until the last minute, I missed the manuscript critique, but I figured I might convince SOMEONE to take a look at my work. I figured wrong. The one, WELL-KNOWN agent I asked, didn’t want the hassle of carrying anything extra on the plane. Conference FAIL.
DON’T get discouraged. – It took me an entire session to work up the courage to even approach the above mentioned agent, and when she blew me off, I wanted to slink away and hide. Seriously? Grow a pair of pencil sharpeners and get used to it. Rejection is part of the game.
DO stay the weekend. – If you’re traveling far, this is a no-brainer. At my 2nd conference, I opted to go the night before, stay at the hotel, and participate FULLY. It was an awesome experience. Spending the entire weekend with writers, agents, editors, talking about BOOKS. What more could you want? I still hear from some of the people I met, and it’s been nice to be able to encourage each other.
DON’T drink too much. – Hey, it was my first weekend away and I was a little excited! I KNEW 2 glasses of wine was my limit, but no, I had to try a 3rd. Which is why I spent the first half, of my first day, on my bed trying to keep a cracker down and searching my purse’s lining for a stray Advil.
DO speak up.- At one of the sessions, the leader asked for volunteers to read. Even though I was scared to death, I did it. After the session, one of the speakers for the event came up to me and complimented my “voice”. It was a great moment. Writers LIVE for great moments.
DON’T skip the critique. – At my second conference, I was better prepared (see Do #1). I was surprised to see the amount of work the agent I had selected put into my critique. And not only did she like it, she requested the WHOLE manuscript.
Which I didn’t send. But that’s a blog post for another time.