Thursday, September 15, 2011

Conference Prep

Are you preparing for an upcoming conference? 'Cause I am. I'll be crashing the Southern Breeze SCBWI 20th Annual Writing & Illustrating for Kids conference in October (and I'd loooove to see you there!). This'll be my first conference EVER, so I'm a bit nervous, and because of said anxiety, I've been lurking on the Internet and collecting conference tips. Here are some that I've wrangled for your prepping pleasure:

1.) Dress Appropriately. This might sound like a DUH moment, but if this item is almost always number one on all the conference prep lists I've read, so someone, somewhere, is not getting the memo. A conference isn't prom. A conference isn't the gym. Business casual. To me, business casual screams slacks, a shirt you'll probably have to iron (boo!), and you'll probably have to wear makeup and comb your hair and stuff.

2.) Dress Comfortably. I know, I know. Which is it, right? How about we keep the slacks and the makeup, but we add layers to our outfit, in case it gets too hot/cold. Also, the conference is not the time for breaking in new shoes or wearing stilettos, unless you're particularly good at wearing stilettos (if so, email me and give me a few tips). You'll be walking to workshops and hopefully mingling, so comfy shoes will be a necessity. Also, leave the perfume/cologne at home. People are allergic. And there's this one kind of perfume that makes me vomit instantaneously, and no one wants to see/smell that.

3.) Bring Stuff. Stuff like a notebook with pockets so you can take materials home and take notes during the workshop. Bring a pen, people. Don't be that person. The conference will probably supply some of these things, but bring them just in case. Also, it wouldn't hurt to bring some business cards, even if you're not yet pubbed. It should include your name, your mug shot, and your contact info. You never know who you'll meet. You just never know. :)

4.) Be courteous. To the volunteers. To other attendees. To the hotel staff. To everyone. Why should I tell you this? Because it's listed on other people's conference lists, so again, someone is still violating this basic rule.

5.) Agents/Editors. Don't pitch to them in the bathroom. They attend conferences to mingle and find new talent, yes. But pitching to them mid-stream is bad. Very bad. If you've scheduled a pitch appointment, then prepare for it. Practice your presentation until it sounds natural. Have material ready in case the agent/editor asks for it on the spot. (Not the whole MS. Just the first few chapters). This is also where a business card comes in handy. It will help them remember you when you send them your material.

These are but a few of the tips I've found. Do you have anything to add? :)


  1. Okay, still laughing about pitching mid-stream. Funny. These are great tips. I won't be at that conference but I am going to the League of Utah Writers conference this weekend and I am very excited. It will be my first! YAY! Have fun next month at SCBWI. That will be awesome!

  2. YAY! Can't wait for me, you & Mrs. Rebel to travel together! :0) It's going to be a blast. Have an outfit idea in mind, just have to find it. And a note book. And pens! LOVE schoolish supplies!

  3. Really helpful advice. I've never been to a conference, but it's useful to know for the future, so thanks!

  4. thanks for this- Ive never been to a conference (not many go on in France. For english writers anyway:) You've been invited over for bloffee this friday morning:)

  5. Katie (Creepy) told me to come here. I'm glad she did. Now I'm following.

    Nice to meet you!

  6. I've only ever been to one conference and it was nerve-wracking! But, I'm must more prepared now. Thanks for listing this! Would have helped me last year lol ;p Saw you over at Katie's (Creepy Query Girl) blog. We was mentioned! Neat.

  7. Way ditto on the comfy shoes! And bring a water bottle.

  8. I was such a business card failure. It felt too Donald Drapery for me...but then I got there and it was a disaster. Tons of people asked for my card and I had nothing. NOTHING. Epic fail.

  9. I actually crashed their social last year, with permission, and got some good info. But when I found out they won't let Florida writers enter their contests, I decided against this one. Don't they know we're really southern Alabama? There's even a Tallahassee critique group that's been going for years and still they don't consider us regular members. You're gonna change that, right?

  10. Oopsie, I forgot to say I chose you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Of course I love your writing but I also enjoy your advice and contests. You were the only one I remembered after my computer shut down last night before I saved the other links, so you can claim it whenever.

  11. I still haven't been to a conference, but this is awesome advice to remember... thank you! :)

  12. Great post! And you'll do great. You have a wonderful book to promote! :) Have fun!

  13. Hey! Found you from the CQG's blog. I've been to that conference and it's awesome. Everyone is really nice and helpful. Best thing to do is meet as many of the other writers as you can. I found my critique partner there and we're really great friends now.
    I'm following you now - can't wait to hear how it goes.

  14. I hopped over from Katie's blog and glad I found you. Excellent tips (especially like the mid-stream one).

  15. Definitely recognize social cues! And make sure you're *listening* to the answer an agent gives you while they're talking instead of formulating your next question or rebuttal. I've seen people ask a follow up question at dinner that was already answered by the original answer... irritating for the agent, and definitely uncomfortable for everyone at the table.

  16. A little over a week ago I went to the NCIBA Conference and Trade Show. It was a lot of fun!

  17. Might be obvious, but for someone like me, it wasn't: don't be shy. Yes, you make the point of not appraching agents in the bathroom, but at the same time, let your voice out. In writing workshops, read your work out loud, let someone know if you like theirs. It helps to get those contacts! Have fun :)

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