Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Writer's Conference Basics
I'm off to the Western PA SCBWI conference in Pittsburgh this weekend (with my husband and four-month-old baby in tow—wish me luck!). This will be the fifth writer's conference I've attended. I feel like I'm finally starting to get the hang of them.
If you're a long-time reader of Thinking to Inking, you might remember the conference survival guide I posted last year. This time, rather than advice on nerves or particulars of etiquette, I want to focus on the basic three things that I think are needed for a successful conference.
1. Do some research.
I've seen this over and over again at each conference I've attended. Do at least enough research before you go to know how traditional publishing works, what an agent or editor does, and what type of book you're writing. I've actually heard people ask agents questions in seminars like, "What genre is my fiction novel about my life?" or "Why do I need an agent? Don't you just want to take a cut of my money?" Trust me, you don't want to be THAT guy/girl.
2. Don't be a jerk.
This one is similar to #1, but it gets its own number because it's just as important. Agents, editors, conference organizers, published writers—they're all people too. (A friend of mine wrote an excellent blog post about agents in particular.) They have good and bad days, times when they feel overwhelmed, and times when they really just need to go to the bathroom or go outside for some air. You'll get your chance to talk to them. Treat them politely.
3. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.
This one gets all capital letters because it's really, really important. Follow the rules. If the pre-conference materials say to print out ten copies of your first five pages, DO IT. Supposed to be there at 10:30 am for registration? That's when you should arrive. Someone tells you that you have a certain time slot to pitch to an agent? Be there on time, ready to go. Conferences are set up to work as smoothly as possible, and it's people who don't follow directions that create snags and problems.