Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting the most out of a conference experience

Tip of the day: if you are planning on attending a conference, don't forget to get prepared!

Next week I'm attending my first big writing conference. I've been to meetings here or there, but nothing of this magnitude. As such, I've been searching the Internet to find tips on how to prepare for a writing conference.

So I thought I'd share some of the tips I've found:

  • Have a game plan of all the break-out sessions you'd like to go to. Fortunately for the conference I'm attending you had to plan this out when registering, but if not, definitely have a game plan of what you want to attend. And leave room for flexibility if the need arises.
  • Have a prepared list of questions. You might use them or you might not. But if there's something you really want to know about the publishing industry and you see there will be a speaker addressing that specific topic, it might be a good idea to know ahead of time what you want to get out of that session. Or for informal chat in between sessions, which often times is the place to learn the most. You have a wealth of knowledge at these conferences and if you are a newbie, don't be afraid to ask someone more knowledgeable.
  • This article by Scott Hoffman at Folio Literary Management gives a great perspective from an agent on how he approaches a conference. He advices everyone to have a one-sentence short blurb about your book, just in case anyone asks. Also it's a good idea to carry around a one-page synopsis of your book, the first three chapters of your novel, and a copy of your manuscript. He advises that most likely you'll never be asked for any of the above, but having it on hand is always a good idea. You'd never want to miss out on an opportunity, would you?
  • If you get asked about your books, be confident in your work when talking about it.
This is just a starter list, and I'm hoping some people more knowledgeable about conferences might chime in with suggestions.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Kate Fall said...

It helped me at Chautauqua to talk to other people and find out what sessions they were attending. I was able to get notes on sessions I didn't attend that way and do some note trading. I also got burned out towards the end of the week and skipped a few sessions in favor of talking to people about books instead, and that was OK too!

DeenaML said...

This is a great list! I am going to do the one-line thing, the 3 chaps thing, and the think-of-a-question thing for sure. Thanks for the ideas. See you in 10 days!

DeenaML said...

Kate -- fortunately, Em and I are only overlapping on one session and I'm so psyched she wanted to go to 2 others I was interested in as well! Great idea!

Alissa Grosso said...

I've never been to a writing conference before, though I've considered it on more than one occasion. This is a nice checklist, I'm horrible at preparing for things, but if I didn't have a game plan before heading to a writing conference, I would be completely overwhelmed.

Christina Farley said...

I'm so jealous! Have lots of fun and report back to us!

I found that having comfortable shoes, a sweater and bottle of water was helpful too! And a camera!

Great tips.

Kate Fall said...

Oh, Christy, you're so right! Also, I bring hand cream and slipper socks in the winter.