Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Weather is Cooling, But Conferences are Heating up.

Post by Kerrie Flanagan

Cooler weather has finally arrived in Colorado, bringing with it the start of school, shorter days and writing conferences. Lots and lots of writing conferences. This is the perfect time for all of us word wranglers to emerge from our creative spaces and hang out with other writers and learn more about our craft.

I have put together these four P's to help you get the most out of a writers conference you might be attending in the near future.

Be Prepared
The Boy Scouts were definitely on to something here. Take time to research the faculty who will be there. This will allow you to figure out who you want to meet and also give you some talking points when you do visit with them. If you are pitching to an agent or editor it is imperative you do some upfront work. (Here is an article I wrote with tips pitch sessions). Make a plan of the sessions you want to attend and what you hope to get from them. 

Be Professional
Writing is a business and I believe all writers need to treat it as such.Therefore, at a conference you should be professional. Have business cards made and ready to hand out when people ask for one. Be respectful of the agents and editors. You want to be remembered-- but not for stalking. Put some thought into what you should wear (think business casual).

Be Polite
A conference is not the time to be a wall-flower and hide in the corner or in your hotel room. It doesn't matter if you are a self-proclaimed introvert, you need to dig deep inside you and unearth any extrovert skills you may have. Introduce yourself to other writers at meals, hand out business cards, ask questions during sessions and talk to the agents and editors, you never know what may come from this meeting.

Be Productive
Go to as many sessions as possible and meet as many people as you can. Regardless of how tired you get, you should stay until the end. There is plenty of time for sleep and rest after the conference. A lot of time goes into making a great event from start to finish, so take advantage of that.

Here are some conferences happening in Colorado over the next six weeks.

Northern Colorado Writers Mini-Con
September 18, 8:00-5:00
NCW Studio, 108 East Monroe Drive
Fort Collins, CO
One day event with 10 workshops to choose from. Topics for all genres and levels. Personal essays, Digital Publishing, Self-Editing, Blogging, Magazine Writing. Plus networking opportunities. Limited to 50 writers

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference
September 10-12
Denver Renaissance Hotel
The 2010 conference theme is Nuggets of Knowledge. Veteran members and guest experts will conduct workshops as we host eight agents and five editors, keynote speaker Brenda Novak, and closing speaker Connie Willis. 

Mountain & Plains Independent Bookseller Assoc: Writers & the Independent Marketplace
September 25
Marriot Denver Tech Center
Working from the premise that you have mastered the craft of writing and are ready to take an active part in getting your book published, the industry experts at this conference will prepare you to assess the publishing opportunities currently available and provide step-by-step guidelines that will help you get your book into print, into bookstores, and into the hands of readers.

Douglas County Writers Conference
October 2
Castle View High School, Castle Rock
An entire day of workshops, networking and activities for writers. Gain valuable tips and insight from experienced writers and other publishing professionals.

What are the conferences near you that you will be attending in the next couple of months?

Do you have any conference advice for those writers new to the conference scene?



Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

For the first time in several years, I don’t plan to attend any conferences. I’ll miss it, I’m sure. I think your advice was right on. One tip I’d read somewhere that I found helpful was to make notes on back of business cards as soon as possible in order to help remember more about the person who handed it to me.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great tips. I didn't make any conferences this year, but I hope to attend one or two in 2011.

bfav said...

Sept 18-19 there is a SCBWI conference in Denver for all the children's writers out there.

Trai said...

Great column, very helpful hints!

As a frequent presenter, my advise is this: remember that we're here for you, the writer. It's our job to be available, be helpful, and be receptive. So maybe not in the restroom, but any chance you get to pick our brains, go for it!

I'll be presenting at the Douglas County Libraries Writers Conference and at the Manitou Springs Author Fest -- the same weekend (Oct. 1-2).

See you there!

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