You made it! After months of saving and planning, you can finally just sit back and relax, right? A writer’s conference is exciting to attend, but you aren’t there just for fun. You are there to learn, network and pitch.
Mealtime is important. You have been practicing your pitch at home and now you need to do it in front of potential agents and editors. Seem a bit daunting? During meal times, it is often a more relaxed environment, so start off pitching your book to different authors and gauge their interest. It will help to not only break the conference ice, but also gives you a chance to adjust your pitch accordingly. You never know when you are going to have to pitch to an agent, so you’re going to want to be prepared for it.
Hand out those business cards and collect contacts. Don’t be shy. People are there to make contacts, so they want your card as much as you want their cards. Oftentimes, agents and editors will have their business cards with them as well, so take a deep breath and ask for their card. Even if they don’t want to represent your current project, at least you will have their web address and email for future projects.
Take advantage of critique groups and workshops. You may be tempted to skip out on the critique groups and workshops and just focus on pitching. Don’t. These are groups and workshops that you don’t have this close of access to for the rest of the year. You’ve paid for these classes and critique groups. Attend them. The learning-to-pitch time has passed. This is learning time. Be open to critique and be open to adjusting your story. The critique groups are composed of seasoned writers, so they know what they are talking about and can offer your some helpful writing tips. Remember, they aren’t critiquing you. They are critiquing your story.
Not if, but when the exhaustion strikes. Before going to a conference, I read that I shouldn’t be surprised if I was so tired I needed to take a break. I thought, I’ve paid a lot of money to be at the conference, so I’m not going to let being “tired” cause me to miss out on anything. Being around so many creative minds is fun, but you have to think on your feet and it can get exhausting after six to eight hours, so be prepared to get tired and don’t be hard on yourself if you need to slip away for an hour to take a nap during lunch or heaven forbid, during a workshop. Try coffee first, but sometimes even four cups won’t help. It’ll be hard to skip, but if you are exhausted, you probably won’t get that much out of it. Get notes from a friend/acquaintance in class and sit by them later to catch up on what you missed in the workshop. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to go!
Enjoy yourself! You are in place filled with people who love to write. Make friends and buy some books from authors you’ve met!