Summertime is here, and some of you may have your eye on a writers conference or two.
Writers conferences can be a significant investment, but they’re also a fantastic learning opportunity. So what should be on your mind as you plan to attend one?
I’ve been to my fair share over the years, and here’s what I would recommend you do.
Keep your expectations in check
Attending a conference may well result in eventually landing you an agent. But it probably won’t. And that’s okay!
There are lots of reasons to attend a writers conference that don’t involve all of your dreams coming true.
But factor in these lowered expectations when you’re considering whether to attend. Don’t spend money to attend a conference that you can’t afford to lose and don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
No one knows how hard it is to write a book except for other people who have done it. It’s fantastic to be surrounded by so many people who have taken the writing leap.
Even if you’re attending with a friend, be sure to mix it up and talk to people, make a point of introducing yourself and having conversations.
I’ve met some lifelong friends at writers conferences and you can too.
Agents and editors don’t bite (Well. Most of them)
The industry professionals who attend conferences are there to meet writers. It’s totally fine to introduce yourself and talk to them. Don’t be scared.
Be respectful of agents’ and editors’ space
Every agent and editor I know has a story of people pitching them in the bathroom, not letting them leave, and otherwise being accosted. Don’t be that person.
Be attuned to social cues and err on the side of not taking up too much of their time. Being a literary agent at a writers conference can kind of feel like being a pot of honey in the middle of a pack of bears. It can be overwhelming.
Consider using pitch sessions to ask questions
Pitching to agents can be a good way to make a quick personal connection and can help you hone your pitch. But there’s really only so much an agent or editor is going to be able to tell you just by hearing your pitch. They’re going to have to, you know, read the book.
Instead of taking up all your time with a lengthy pitch, consider picking the professional’s brain with a question that might be on your mind.
There are no rules! You might learn something valuable.
Have you attended a conference? Any tips? Let me know in the comments!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.
Art: Galante Gesellschaft im Schloßpark by Carl Schweninger Jr.