RWA National Conference is fast approaching. So it’s time to start prepping for it. Well, for many of our readers, anyway. Unfortunately, this is not my year to attend (sigh). But for those of you who are, now is the time to get the conference schedule, a top priority, and deciding which sessions to go to or which to avoid. If you’re pitching this year, add ‘preparing the pitch’ to your to-do list. I suck at elevator pitches and tag/log line type descriptions so creating those is torture. In order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything, I googled to find some internet advise.
Most of the advice is the same. The blog post I found on The Write Life, Attending a Writers’ Conference? Here’s How to Prepare has a helpful section at the end with pitching tips from literary agents. I don’t need that this year, but some of you might. Writer’s Relief blog had some interesting ones that you don’t see every day. The tips are from readers of the blog. I liked ‘have that third drink back in your room’ and ‘don’t eat garlic’ for the humor. But ‘let yourself REST’ is critical. I always forget this one and then I get burned out. Plus, as an introvert, I need my alone time, which is why I always do a single room.
I don’t usually like the —— for Dummies books, because I don’t think of myself as a dummy, but the Ten Ways to Make the Most of a Writers’ Conference was very good, quite thorough. A different take on it was on Jennie Nash’s blog – 9 Ways to Ruin a Writing Conference. I’m guilty of comparing myself to other writers and come out felling ‘less than’.
What is your best advice for attending a writers’ conference?
I love craft classes but I’m at a stage in my career where I need marketing and promo classes. Sigh.
So my advice to myself is to figure out ahead of time whether I’m going to enjoy myself or whether I’m going as a professional author who wants to grow her business and choose accordingly.
On the plus side, I always get to spend time with a lot of writing friends that I don’t get to see very often. Wish you were one of them this year. 😦
You are also still a writer so you can split your time between promo and marketing AND craft.
And I wish I was one of the writing friends there too.
I always think it’s important to have fun at these conferences and not take them too seriously. The stories one hears about people who run themselves ragged and get hysterical about it all—I don’t see what benefit you can get from that . I think you’ll absorb more if you take your time, don’t overbook, and don’t think you’re missing something going on around the corner . And that ties in nicely with Elizabeth’s post of not comparing your conference to someone else’s. 🙂
I have to be careful at conferences to not wear myself out. I always feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth if I skip even one session. But sometimes, that’s exactly what I should do to recharge.
I think it’s important to talk to strangers. I’m very shy, and I have to work consciously to do this, but often a smile can help another stranger relax, and before long, we’re talking.
It’s easy to talk about workshops (innocuous comment about the speaker, own troubles with the subject matter, what you expect out of the workshop), and in addition, it’s good pedagogical practice to forecast what you expect to learn, and then review when you are done whether it matched your prediction (and what you’d like to do about that — while you are there, you might still be able to ask the speaker a question AFTER the presentation, maybe).
Carrying a book can be a real plus-minus in my experience at WorldCons. It seems like a good conversation starter, and if you are fellow fan, it can be. But if you don’t know the author, asking, “So, what is the book about?” can lead you down a 20 minute (boring?) discourse about characters and plots that aren’t really your cup of tea at all (assuming your partner is good at elevator pitches and summarizing . . . if not, oh boy!).
But you are all there because you love reading, you love writing and you care about story. There’s common ground to be found!