Two weeks ago I attended a local(ish) writers conference. It was like entering an embassy while traveling abroad: everyone there spoke my language! POV, protagonist, proposal, pitch, platform, even Peter Piper. It was wonderful. Here are four things I learned that weekend.
- Bring a friend or make a friend. I’ve been to a writers conference twice by myself, but this time a friend came with me. SO fabulous! Apart from being able to share the fun and bounce ideas off of each other, having a friend gave me one unexpected advantage: confidence. We’re chatting, we’re laughing, and hey, there’s SuchAndSuch author, editor, web designer. Why don’t we go say hello? The conversation is already flowing between you, so it feels much more natural to approach the industry people you’d love to converse with.
- 250 business cards is a LOT of cards and handing out the first two will immediately show you the flaw in all of them. In my case, font size. I didn’t realize how small the font was until everyone I gave a card to held it at arm’s length and squinted at it through reading glasses. There’s a reason the standard font size on submissions is 12, not 10.
- Don’t burn your bridges when you don’t get the answer you were hoping for from an editor, agent, etc. I didn’t do this, but I had the urge and restrained myself. This year in particular I noticed how interconnected the publishing industry is. Editor A works for Publisher A, but is also an author represented by Agent B, who also represents Author C who is good friends with Editor D from Publisher D. They all know each other and your reputation can follow you – good or bad – around their circles.
- Talk with everyone. You will receive your best writing tips and make your best connections when you least expect it.
My last piece of advice is this: if you want to write, go to a writers conference! The experience you gain is invaluable.