5 Tips to Make the Most out of a Writer's Conference

5 Tips to Make the Most out of a Writer's Conference

all right so I am going to my first conference I'm excited for you I'm a little nervous but I figured that we I've already gotten the breakdown on how conferences go on the agent side but I think we can give breakdown for the author's going to their first conference or they should give everyone five tips for getting the most out of a conference yeah so number one which came from Jessica Faust is get out of your room and get out of your head yeah exactly get out of well I mean you're not going to get anything out of a conference if you're hidden in your room or to be honest on your phone in front of your laptop I was at a conference a few years ago where I went to the lobby I had some free time and I thought I would try to mingle with people because that's what I go to conferences for and every single person was like this with their phone at least if they have a booked I feel like I can approach them talk to them about the book but with the phone it's a clear sign to me that you don't want to talk to somebody and I know that when I get uncomfortable or awkward it's the first thing I want to reach for keep it in your bag I really think it is a detriment to your conference experience to always be hiding behind something your door to your room or your phone the best conferences always have the best bars they do because I think the most business gets done at the bar because that's the easiest place to network with other people sometimes there's like a nice log open Lobby or a lobby bar but those two together magical but I do think that every every best conference story we have this one what bar and I can tell so we can't but it is where people like people hang out I think you just have to get past your shyness your head get out of your head and you don't need the drink good hour you know have a soda but that's where people are comfortable and chat and tell stories or talk about whatever is on the TV at the bar and yeah I agree including the publishing professionals but you'll always find them at the bar so number two is the flip side of this and it's to take time to actually hide in your room yeah when you're at a conference I had to schedule breaks for something so before I even this really works for agents but before I even sat down to schedule my conference day I marked off a few different hours where I needed to go to my room and I do that all the time now so when you're looking at your conference schedule and you're making your plans from breakfast through dinner and you're looking at the workshops take a break in their schedule sometime where you're gonna run up to your room go to the bathroom freshen up take a deep breath empty your swag out of your bag I think that it helps you to realize and to recenter yourself if you have a roommate can I do this all the time schedule it together so you can get back and share stories and then go and hit it again so number three we kind of touched on when we talked about number one but it's talk to everyone everyone you can talk to you should be talking to because you never know what you're gonna get from them yeah well I think a lot of times I end up at these banquet tables and I mean granted sometimes it's hard because it's so loud in the room it's hard to talk to the person that's on the other side of the banquet table but I do find that there's a lot of people that are just talking with their friends you know they sit with their friends at the banquet table but then they're not you know i'm i don't have anybody talking to me and honestly you should be there to talk to the publishing professionals or to other authors that you don't already know and networking who knows who could be a future potential blurb query right so make sure you're making the most of those opportunities instead of just gabbing with your friends you can do that over room service at a little clock later yeah maybe make a deal with your roommate like we're gonna go to this dinner we're not gonna sit together yeah and well we'll come back into the room later and share the business cards of the people we met and it's not just publishing investment professionals it's other writers it's also really awkward for me when I get to a table and everybody is talking in little groups and I effect high school I've actually conferences where I feel like nobody wants to talk to me okay it's weird it is yeah and it doesn't always you know there are simple ways you don't have to pitch your book which we'll get to but there are simple ways to strike up a conversation what have you read lately you're all readers apparently I would assume by looking on anything I like to find out about the area have you been to see blah blah blah or you know I like to ask people what they would recommend I see if I have free time that kind of thing is just a good conversation starter right so number four came from Kim and it's to focus on networking rather than pitching what do you mean by that well like Jessica said I think when people I think people feel like the time that they get with an agent is so limited that they have to make the most of it by pitching their book but I think really making the most of those opportunities is making yourself memorable and the conversations I remember most from people I've met at conferences are not then put pitching their books to me it's like striking up a conversation finding something you have in common and and then when you know it doesn't mean I don't want to hear about their book but I think so many conference people are just like so focused on pitching that they lose sight that the real goal should be networking which is just getting to know us and write we had this conversation before we came on video and one of the things that I came to realize that I have connections with authors from years of conferences people I still talk to who are not clients but people I've connected with and we stay in touch and communicate a lot and every one of those was made at a conference that was not heavily pitch focused it was just a conference that was really about networking and getting to know each other and I think the writers felt more relaxed in connecting with people because they didn't feel like it was about the pitch right and I remember going with you tagging along to thriller fest two or three years ago I can still remember the people that we sat with at that table yes we didn't talk about their book until until we were leaving really they didn't bring up their book we're just talking to them about them and in general so it makes a difference and sometimes two of you strike up the conversation you could just exchange cards and then email them later and be like you know this is the book this is my book even if it didn't come up in conversation it's still like a connection that you've made can always query yeah always but number five have that pitch ready yeah when you're at a conference the first question people are gonna ask you is what's your book about not just agents and editors but everybody you meet is going to ask you what your book is about so have your pitch ready not in the I'm going to sit down with an agent and pitch my book but I'm gonna be on the elevator or at the dinner table or wherever else and I have to have that pitch ready it's both good practice and good research because you're getting people's reactions right there and you're getting practice pitching so and when you because when you become published you are constantly going to have to tell people about your book you're gonna have to pitch your book so you might as well start now yep and good luck at your first or tenth conference right yeah


  • Stephanie Bourbon says:

    Yes!!! I have a video on conferences and introverts etc.. when I post it, I'm going to add your video to my end cards, this is so great!!! I love it! Awesome!

  • Moe Shalabi says:

    Jessica and James, I'd love to attend a conference you're attending! You guys seem super awesome. Which conferences will you be attending this year? I'll come by and say hey! Phone in pocket…LOL

  • Steven Lloyd says:

    I was told yesterday that some agents are telling writers they need at least two thousand or five thousand followers on Twitter before they'll even consider reading their work. What are your thoughts on this practice?

  • Caden Grace says:

    Writers tend to be introverts. Holding that phone or having a focus on the laptop gives them a defensive posture that lets them be present in the room without the risk of actually meeting someone. Hiding in their room is an enhanced version of this psychology. Most of these people are just afraid and are especially afraid to look stupid because they place no value in their own work and believe everyone will find their 'story' – them specifically and their work(s) – uninteresting. Some of the best writers have been introverts as it seems that ability to shut out the world is a huge asset when pumping out pages, but the great writers know and can turn that off when the moment calls for it.

  • WA Simpson says:

    I only got to my first conference last year and that was because I received a grant so I made the most of the entire experience as I don't know when I'll get to one again. I'm always looking to network and converse with agents and other authors. What can be more fun? One thing I like to do if I meet an agent is to offer to buy them coffee and dessert. I figure they appreciate it. Kim mentioned about blurbs. Would you be interested in making a video about how to ask for one?

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