As an extrovert, I LOVE attending conferences and I’m gearing up (with much anticipation!) for the couple I’ll be attending this year. I get a buzz from meeting all of those talented writers, agents, and editors. This is not the case for some of you. Many cower at the thought of working a room or being on the spot. So how do you get into the groove of selling your books, of selling you? How do you rock the conference circuit?
1. REGISTER IN ADVANCE It cuts down on the stress of arriving early, making sure you get all of the proper tags, meal tickets, seating, etc. Not to mention, many of the conference perks can only be enjoyed if your register early.
2. STUDY THE ONLINE BROCHURE Print it out and read it cover to cover, carefully. Check out all the great seminars. Circle or star those you think you’d like to attend. Some may overlap so rate them according to importance. On the day of the conference, you’ll know what to expect and be able to spend more of your time networking during the breaks rather than choosing seminars.
3. RESEARCH THE STAFF Know the experts who will be leading the seminars, reading pages, or taking formal pitches. The brochure provided by the conference is great, but there are many more nuanced bits of info you can learn about a particular agent, for example, by reading the agency websites, their blogs, etc. Just because Agent Joe reps historical fiction doesn’t mean he prefers Russian historicals. Maybe his thing is westward expansion in the U.S. These are important distinctions an author should know before pitching their work. It also saves unnecessary stress and rejection.
4. DRESS COMFORTABLY, but look hot. I’m not recommending spike heels or suits and ties, necessarily, unless that’s your “thang”. There’s a fine balance between looking great and being comfortable–find your zone and stick with it. You’ll feel more confident if you look good!
5. PRACTICE YOUR PITCH This goes without saying. Practice your pitch at home. Record it, perform it for your pets, your kids, your husband, or better yet, your writing group. Listen to their feedback and make adjustments so it flows the day of the conference.
6. BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT YOURSELF People want to know what you write about, why you choose to write about it, and other interesting hobbies or background info you’d like to share. Gear up to spill the beans.
7. TALK WITH SOMEONE DURING MEAL TIMES Meals are always a great way to make friends. Plus eating gives you something to do to mask the akwardness in starting a conversation with someone new. At each meal time or designated break, mingle with different people. Circulate. This includes cocktail hour, which is often the best time to network.
8. BRING BUSINESS CARDS & A NOTEBOOK Give away your cards, accept cards from others, take notes on their information. People love to talk about themselves and it’s fun listening. Get it all down and add it to your list of people you know in the biz. This will come in handy later as you’re building your platform.
9. TAKE PICTURES They’re a fun way to remember some of the great people you met. It’s also a wonderful thing to post on your blog or Facebook after a conference.
10. POST-CONFERENCE AFTERMATH Follow-up with the people you met, then friend or follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or wherever they may be on the web. Send them messages. Check in to see how their book(s) are coming along. Make enduring connections. This is what building your platform is all about.
Most importantly, BE YOURSELF! What makes writing conferences great is the multitude of very different people they attract, from all walks of life, in varying stages of their craft, in dozens of sub-genres. Being yourself is the real key to rocking the conference circuit, or, frankly, anything in life.
WHICH ARE YOUR FAVORITE CONFERENCES? CARE TO SHARE AN EXPERIENCE FROM THEM?