Saturday, October 17, 2009

Conference Do's and Don'ts

Attending your first conference is very exciting. I remember my first conference. People waited patiently for the doors to open as they chatted with each other like old pals. Their conversations consisted of their latest book projects and book deals. I felt proud being amongst talented authors. I was eager to learn everything I needed to become a successful writer. But before that, I knew I needed to learn about conference etiquette.

I observed many characters during the conference- the in-your-face aggressive types, eager to compete for the editor’s attention. They are the one’s carrying a briefcase of manuscripts ready to hand out. Then there are the stand-alone individuals who sit quietly off to the side with nothing but a book to help them pass the time. It is difficult to know how to act in these situations. So, to make it easier for all of you, I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to make the most of your conference experience. This list was gathered from the advice of SCBWI members that I’ve compiled over the years.
· spend time reading some of the books written/edited/agented by the speakers who will be attending the conference
· introduce yourself (like you would if you were talking to anyone else)
· be friendly and polite
· be yourself

· keep the conversation light
· ask good questions
· ask about the other person’s work
· ask what he or she has read and loved lately
· compliment or question about a book written by the writer/editor/agent
· tell the editor/agent what you enjoyed about their presentation
· feel free to talk to the editors/agents only when they are available
· meet people (your neighbors sitting around you at the presentation and during breaks)
· bring your business cards

· contact the editor/agent in advance to ask them for a few moments at the conference
· monopolize anyone’s time
· pitch your work unless the editor/agent asks what you are working on
· offer your manuscript unless they request it
· force yourself on the editor/agent
· hijack other people’s conversation
In general, take the opportunity to learn all you can about being a better writer and connect with other writers. You’ll never know who you will meet. He or she may change your life.

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