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Send Us Your Tips On Attending Conferences


Hi Writer-Readers,

We’re doing a special article in June, and we need your help.

Comment with your SINGLE BEST tip for finding/going to/networking at a writing conference. You can also say what a writer should never do at a conference.

What clever things have you done to make it easier/cheaper/more effective to go to and meet people at a writing conference?

> Please keep your writing conference tip to less than 50 words.

> Include your name exactly as you would like it to appear on our blog post.

> Comment ASAP (but June 6 is the final deadline).

If your tip is selected, we’ll feature it in an upcoming issue of SWN!

We’ll be reaching out to our Facebook and Twitter fans for tips as well. If you don’t already Like/Follow us, please go ahead. We’ve built strong writing communities there.

Tips from conference organizers, speakers, and attendees are especially welcome! Please share this post with anyone you know who might have a good tip.

Thanks in advance!

Your Friends At Writer’s Relief

P.S. Remember to comment!

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33 Responses to Send Us Your Tips On Attending Conferences

  1. Conferences are occasions where a large number of people meet once – and then disperse forever. From the outset look for the people who interest you and grab them at coffee time. Things might develop beyond that short duration.

  2. Don’t heckle the speakers or fellow-panellists! That can spoil the fun for everyone (as happened at one festival I attended). Remember that most people at any gathering of writers communicate best in writing, so their speech-making may not be perfect. Even if it’s a debating panel, remain courteous.

  3. If you write poetry be sure to attend the NFSPS National Convention June 26 to 29 in Utah. NFSPS is an excellent way to network with other U.S. Poets. To save money 3-4 poets share a room. There are two open readings daily. Google NFSPS 2014 Convention for more information.

  4. Never even try to think you’re hopeless; don’t ever lose your confidence, being a writer is achievement enough, take it to the next level; don’t ever try not to participate through the event.

  5. I live on a budget so I suggest teaming up with others to share expenses. Carpool, share hotels, pack your snacks. Then at the conference listen to everyone, even though it seems like eves dropping you can learn a lot and then if something sparks your interest start asking questions. You are there to learn.

  6. I organize the writing contests of Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. We cover a different category each year. This year (Conference is in July) the subject is science. Speakers include Annie Jacobsen (Area 51) and David Quammen (Song of the Dodo). Make full use of your time at a conference. Enter contests, speak to agents, talk with other writers. If you go to the Mayborn, take vitamins and prepare to be inspired and invigorated, and exhausted. You get to listen to every speaker. It’s intense, and you could win $3,000 for an essay.

  7. Use twitter ( or face book) to find if anyone in your vicinity is going, that way you share the cost. Know your stuff, read up on the achievements of speakers. Listen watch and participate. You will be amongst craftsmen, take notes and learn from
    them. Go to vista print ( or any inexpensive business card producer) print a card with a recent photo your website email and phone number, give them to anyone who is genuinely interested in you. Above all enjoy.

  8. Experience is one of the most valuable assets a writer can have. Take time to observe the world around you, the cause and effect flow of the universe. It makes everything that much more real.

  9. Pick the closest conference to your home, close enough to commute to it rather than staying in a hotel.
    Research the agents who will attend the conference and choose 4 – 5. Sit at different tables during meals and LISTEN. Agents are approachable and a fountain of information in informal settings.

  10. Write not for the money, but rather, write because you like to write.

  11. Fairly basic suggestions: try not to be extra aggressive. never be aloof. You should be proficient! And, please, I beg you, no matter what should never on this earth boast that your book is going to be outstanding or a “big hit” or the next brilliant success. Suppress the impetus to share the major premise of why or reason for who you’ve written the book for except if you are categorically asked. It’s obvious that some writers allow themselves to be in a cloud by their impassioned admiration of their story. You shouldn’t take rejection or constructive critique personal. The quantification of a work is at the most objective, at the least subjective, but almost entirely, it’s all about business dealings.

  12. An effective tip to make it easier, cheaper, and more participants to a writing conference is find a sponsor of the conference. Refund the fare expenses to those invited officially and provide them free food and accommodation. If possible, provide stipends to the participants too.

  13. Never volunteer how long you’ve taken to write your manuscript. It’s fine to share if you’ve been developing and writing multiple works for several years, but if it’s taken, say, four years to write your first manuscript, you should probably keep that to yourself.

  14. Sometimes our enthusiasm for our own work gets the better of us and we’re ready to talk but often fail to listen. So learn to be inquisitive and ask questions to find out who others are, and their passions. Thus build a relationship/ Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Oh, and hide nothing – you are who you are, share it all, fearlessly.

  15. Go with a mission,a time to observe,and listen and learn the speakers ,go to the ones who specifically write the style you do,poetry is one of mine,and self help nonfiction,inspirational are my others,so have a target speaker,saves time,eliminating a lot right off the top,introduce yourself,share your vision for writing,in short time,six minutes,too long bores get to the main point,your purpose for writing.

  16. Close mouth. Open ears. Remember to put aside your ego and ask people about themselves, not just talk about your writing. But the most important part is to be sincere at it. It isn’t enough to ask the questions and only listen to the answers that can benefit you.

  17. Do research. Spend time before money. A regional conference can connect you with published authors in your area, who know agents and editors. Agencies and publishers send reps to regional meetings. Bring a friend. Be discreet. Be friendly. Take notes. Pitch briefly. Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing.

  18. My #singlebest writing tip is to create psychological suspense by breaking up dialogue with images such as: thoughts, props, clothing, smells, setting, decorations, lighting, physical features, sounds, et al. Good trick for dealing with exposition and hooking reader.

  19. Be prepared! In advance of attending the conference, research the schedule. Know what sessions, readings, and signings you’re going to attend. Make room for pitches, blue pencil sessions, and networking (social) opportunities. If pitching, research the agents. Go in with your absolute best work to present.

  20. No matter how simplistic or elementary a workshop assignment is, just do it. You never know enough to stop learning.

    During a Q & A, do not frame a question around your published works. The point of questions is to learn , not hype.

  21. Go to as many workshops as possible. Stay afterwards to talk and listen to other classmates. Approach the speaker during a lapse. Make your question short. If it’s an agent, ask if you can send them your manuscript. Nothing more. If they say yes, send it as ‘requested material’.

  22. If you’re attending a conference for the first time, I caution you not to go alone because the huge crowds might intimidate you and render you speechless! Do not be afraid to engage the panel by asking a question and bring extra money.

  23. If you are not a “people person” Find someone to go with, it cuts down traveling costs and having a “buddy” will make you more confident and less anxious about going out around crowds of intimidating people.

  24. Hello
    I think that every writer or those who wish to write
    To read a lot of what he writes creators in this area
    And follow up on tips that put here for Novice Writing
    And not despair He writes that puts a target to reach him

  25. Bring business cards with your picture on them. Trust me, it will be difficult to remember everyone you met at the conference. Cards with pictures are gold.

  26. Keep a notebook/note-taking app. for recording the names and other valuable information you learn about the people you meet.

  27. Read the works of people you know are going to be there. Get familiar with the speakers so that you are able to participate and have a deeper understanding

  28. With the high pressure to contact potential publishers at conferences, many attendees only talk about themselves. If you want to network, don’t sound like a narcissist, and pay attention to people’s interests-ask about their work, show interest in what they’d said at a talk. Don’t just plug your work.

  29. Many conferences today have Twitter hashtags. I find following the conference hashtag to be a great way to find friends, discover events I might have missed in the program, and just keep a pulse on the conference.

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