Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on her author website.
I'm heading off to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference today, so I might not be able to reply to comments for a while since I'm likely in an airplane at the moment. Going to conferences always takes me back to the first conference I ever attended and just how terribly clueless I was. That inspired me to write a blog post to help those who might be thinking of attending a writers conference someday and want to avoid walking around in utter bewilderment and embarrassing themselves.
Not that you can't ever recover from that. I seem to have managed to. But maybe that depends on who you ask!
So here they are. My ten tips for how to behave at a writers conference.
1. Don't put too much pressure on yourself for the event. I've done this, and it can nearly ruin the conference. I know you're excited to pitch, but if your book doesn't sell at this one conference, it's not the end of the world. Trust that you will find your place as a writer in time. Stressing and driving yourself insane with worry will not change that fact. So, do your best, but know that rejection makes you stronger and will bring you one step closer to acceptance.
2. Be friendly. Again, I know the idea of pitching to an editor or agent can be stressful, but they are just people, like you and me. They don't bite (as one agent once told me to try and calm me down). They are there to meet new writers. They want to hear your idea. So smile and do your best. But also look for other writers to be friendly to. They are just as stressed out as you and a friendly face might be exactly what they need to cheer them up.
3. Use common sense. Do not chase an editor or agent into the bathroom. If an agent rejects your book, don't argue with him. I've seen authors do both of these things, and I always cringe. I know. Authors are weird. But fight the urge to take that weirdness too far!
4. Come prepared with a one-sentence logline of your book. When people ask what your book is about, give your logline, then stop talking. Let that logline work for you!
5. Don't print out your book or book proposal and bring it along. You can print one chapter to show editors or agents who might ask to look at your writing, but they likely won't keep it. They don't want to haul all that stuff around the conference any more than you do!
6. If you meet your favorite author, say hello. I know it's scary. And even if you say something dumb (which I've done), know that authors realize how stressful writing conferences can be. Authors attend writing conferences because they want to give back. So they are not going to judge you for being excited. It's all good.
7. Learn all you can. Writer's conferences have staffs filled with experience and talent. Listen to the speakers. Glean wisdom. There is good stuff to be learned.
8. Bring business cards and trade them. Meet people. You never know, you might be meeting a future critique partner.
9. Take a deep breath and have fun. Just, really now... HAVE FUN!
10. Don't go home and change everything about your book. I know it's tempting. But take a few weeks to decompress. Think about the things you've learned. Then go back and carefully look at what changes you want to make.
Have you ever been to a writer's conference? Any advice you'd like to share? And if you've never been, why not? Get thee to a writers conference, posthaste!