I love attending conferences, going to workshops, meeting new authors, and reconnecting with friends, but my attitude is not the majority. Many find conferences intimidating, far too crowded, and full of angst. I asked a few California Dreamin’ authors to share some words of wisdom and tips, the do’s and don’t s of conference attending!
Here’s what they had to say.
I usually give the advice to First Timers
Do…wear their first-timer status on their sleeve — because that way they can find other first timers, make great friends, and eventually take over the world as a glorious team.
Conferences are an investment of money and time.
Do…think of your time at the conference as investment in something even more valuable than those two things — your work.
Do…attend as many workshops as you can, ask as many questions as you have, take as many opportunities as you see.
Do…remember, this weekend is about prioritizing the work–if you are in a room that doesn’t seem like it will help you move forward, leave and find a room that will.
~ Sarah MacLean
My advice is about things I always pack in my bag or purse at a conference.
Do…pack ibuprofen, mints, tissues, safety pin, and Band-Aids. (The last are for blistered toes after walking in heels all day. I can’t resign myself to sensible shoes.) Even if you don’t end up using them, you just might come to someone else’s rescue!
Do…take a minute and breathe if you need a break. You are there to network, learn and have fun, but a conference can be overwhelming. So, if sitting and talking to one person instead of going to a workshop feels right, do it.
Do…try something new, sit with people you don’t know and attend a workshop you’ve never tried before. Inspiration comes from amazing places.
Don’t…feel like you have to do everything.
Do…remember your business cards. Get them ordered and bring them with you.
Don’t…think you can go to every workshop and every event. Pick and choose what works best for you.
Do…try new things. Some of the best workshops I’ve been to are things I walked into at the last minute.
~ Alanna Lucas
Do…if you have a chance to pitch, pitch your guts out. No, really. You spent all that money to be at conference to advance your career, right? BUT
Don’t…pitch under a bathroom stall. Ever.
Don’t…compare yourself to others, because that way lies heartache and disappointment.
Do…be the best YOU you can be and that includes your writing.
~Susan Mac Nicol
You’re going to learn many new things and go home with so many wonderful, exciting ideas!
Do…remember everyone’s process is different and what works for one author might not work for you.
Do…remember your own process can, and probably will, change over time.
My favorite writing quote is from F. Somersett Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
The do’s and don’t s of conference attending should just be ways to make you more comfortable. My final don’t is
Don’t…take any of this as a rule set in cement. A conference is successful if you learn one thing. You will have a great time no matter if you do all of these things, one of these things, or none of these things.
My final rule for the do’s is:
Do…sign up for the conference and come have fun with all of us. Conferences are our chance to meet and catch up with each other.