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Ten Things NOT To Do At A Writers Conference

Writer’s conferences are a great way to meet editors and literary agents. They offer seminars, workshops, lectures, and manuscript consultation, as well as encouragement and inspiration to aspiring authors. Writer’s conferences require an investment of time and money, so make the most of them—and DON’T DO the following!

Be a stalker. It’s not okay to lurk around corners and “accidentally” run into the agent you’ve been trying to contact for a year. It’s not okay to follow them to their hotel room and pretend you’re delivering room service. Barging into their restroom stall might get you arrested, and kidnapping is illegal if you’re considering that route.

Wear dumb costumes. That bear suit probably won’t get you any attention—positive attention anyway. A bunny suit might if you can pull it off. It’s even possible that wearing a pirate getup and running around, saying “Aaargh” to promote your manuscript about the high seas will get you noticed, and clown costumes are always a hit. Everyone loves clowns…right?

Pass out huge tomes. Agents don’t get much exercise and can’t really lift heavy things, so don’t hand them your 300-page manuscript and expect them to lug it around all day. Have copies of your synopsis and sample chapters available, and leave the suitcase of paper at home.

Pass out. Drinking heavily may liven things up for a while, but you probably don’t want to be remembered as that guy or gal who took a little nap in the hallway—covered in vomit and clutching a bottle of whiskey.

Interrupt lectures. Turn off the cell phone, put out the cigarette, and refrain from telling jokes to the woman sitting next to you until after the lecture. It’s weird, but speakers don’t usually enjoy the sounds of your awesome new ringtone or your raucous laughter while they’re trying to make a serious point.

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Be a suck-up. It’s good to be polite and even fake interest. It’s bad to fawn all over an editor or give him your firstborn son. (Passing out money might work though.)

Be a rude slob. Take a shower, wear deodorant, and don’t drink coffee if you can’t manage to keep it in the cup. You probably shouldn’t make fun of other writers’ clothes, ideas, or genres. Or their religion. No, it’s not a popularity contest, but that great agent might remember the writer who ran around pointing fingers at people and saying, “Children’s lit isn’t REAL writing!”

Steal. Whoee! All those great freebies are definitely a bonus, but somebody might notice if you stuff your briefcase full of them. You’ve gotta save room for the sugar packets, napkins, and cute little soaps from the bathroom.

Dress inappropriately. Tuck in your shirt, zip up your fly, and leave the tube top/miniskirt combo at home.

Be overly aggressive. Don’t get us wrong—editors love aggressive, in-your-face writers looking for an “in.” Really, they do. But physically elbowing someone else aside so that they fall into the potted plant might get you kicked out of the conference. Save that kind of behavior for church.

The next time you’re at a writer’s conference, keep these ten things in mind. You may find yourself inspired, encouraged, and armed with a pocketful of literary agent and editor contacts! For more, read Making the Most of Writers Conferences.

Want to get an agent’s or editor’s attention? Write and target great queries. Writer’s Relief can help!

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