Check the comments of yesterday’s post for the winner of the free download!
Oh! And remember The Texas Two-Step Grab Bag contest ends Tuesday! ~DD
Why Attend a Conference?
Rachel and I are attending Spring Fling, the conference of the Chicago North chapter of Romance Writers of America. A large regional conference, it focuses on workshops and activities for aspiring and published authors, as well as a reader event that includes a book-signing.
Having just gone to the RT Booklovers Convention earlier this month, I am beginning to “get the hang” of how I like to “do” conferences. I figured I’d pass along some tips that work for me and Rachel:
1. Plan ahead. Look up the schedule on the Internet before you go, so you know what you want to attend and where, if any, slack exists so you can relax.
2. Come early to get the lay of the land, check in, and get your “swags.” Most conferences give various freebees, from books to pens, mirrors, and even candy in naughty shapes.
3. Many people use conferences as networking tools, so pay attention to the lounge and lobby areas. Editors and authors like to just hang out, rather than attend every workshop; impromptu discussions can take place. You never know who you might meet.
4. Don’t be afraid to have some fun. Most conferences offer parties of various kinds, from relatively mild receptions to full-blown extravaganzas with costumes, models, and stage productions. It’s not all serious, so lighten up and let your inner child play.
5. Bring business cards. Collect business cards. Even if your cards are simply your name and email, you have the opportunity to make connections and put a face to your branding. Folks are more apt to connect with a real person, which is invaluable as you’re starting out.
6. Take care of your appearance. You might want to dress up in order to give a good first impression. While jeans and a t-shirt are comfortable, you are representing you and your brand. Dress the part.
7. Remember to drink plenty of water and bring snacks. There’s no reason not to spend money at the hotel or convention center if you’ve budgeted for it, but why pay seven dollars for a bottle of water when you can bring it with you? Plus, you might not want to leave a workshop just because you get the nibbles.
8. Bring something to take notes with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People love to talk about their craft. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn.
9. If you see an author you like, go up and talk with them. They’re here to connect with the fans. Take advantage of that and be a fan. Just don’t bother them if they’re trying to have a quiet meal or already in conversation with someone.
10. Be a sponge. Keep your eyes open. You never know when you might see the next idea for your novel, idea for a cool promotional concept, or a new friend. Let the world around you stimulate you. After all, that’s what you paid for.