Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to Get the Most from Your Conference

Soon I will head to the Killer Nashville Conference. Fact: I had a huge yard sale to pay for my hotel. The cost went up unexpectedly because the original host broke their contract. I'd already paid for the conference and several special sessions. With the cost of travel, food and other incidentals, I'm in for an expensive few days. I want to make sure it is all worth it. What is the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck?

PLAN
1. Take a notebook to scribble all those words of wisdom.

2. Programs are generally posted online ahead of time. Look it over to decide in advance what fits your needs.

3. Swag - It won't hurt to take business cards, postcards, bookmarks and a few of your books to showcase. Some conferences like Killer Nashville have several opportunities for authors to get some needed exposure.

4. Panels - Killer Nashville has asked me to be on a panel for new authors. I jumped at the chance even though I've never done this kind of presentation. Don't be shy to be on the stage.

5. Don't miss a moment. Don't sleep in. Don't party too much. You're there to learn and become a better writer.

6. If you travel a long distance find out ahead of time the opportunities to get to know the local community.

7. Don't forget other fees; food, books, gas and valet parking! It all adds up.

8. Relax. Be observant of those around you and seek out new friends that are like minded about your genre.

9. Author Pitches: Most writing conferences offer these. It's a great way to get your face and work in front of an editor or agent.

10. Head Shots: Ozark Romance Authors offer a chance to get your picture taken by a professional photographer for a reasonable price at their conference.

11. Meet the Author: I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Steve Berry several years ago at the Oklahoma Writer's Conference. He stopped several times to say "hello" and even offered to sign his book I kept carrying around like the Holy Grail.  This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from the best.

12. Take advantages of chat sessions with authors, agents and editors. It's a great time to pick their brain on a particular area you need to address. This is not a time to hesitate. You've paid for this conference.

13. Guest Speaker: Usually published authors of various degrees of distinction are the keynote speaker. Try to read some of their work to understand where they are coming from.

16 comments:

  1. And here's more:
    Wear comfy shoes. You will be walking a lot.
    Case the place as soon as you get there. Find out where the conference room and bathroom are.
    Give yourself a "time out." Yes, you want to take advantage of all the panels but you will be exhausted too early.
    Find the hospitality room (if they have one) and chow down for free.
    Don't hog the panel.
    Oh, and research every person going to be on the panel with you. Come prepared.
    Keep a jacket or sweater handy. Some of the rooms are COLD!
    Take names and "friend" them when you get home. Let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are terrific suggestions! I'm throwing out the ridiculous shoes for comfy. Thanks. What was I thinking!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the valuable advice! The SC conference was such a pleasure and I can't wait to go back published.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having been in education for years I attended many conferences that were worthless. With every writing conference I come away recharged and ready to write.

      Delete
  3. Haha! OMG! I love the head shot op at the romance con! I would go for that alone :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well come on! I would love to have you visit. The photographer is so good. But the conference is also small enough and cheap enough to for everyone to get lots of valuable advice. There's also prizes, raffles and nice swag. Think about it.

      Delete
  4. Great advice. There was so many events to choose from and I know I missed one in particular that I'm sorry I did. But couldn't do everything. You're so right. Conference is not the time for down time. Great blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ronnie, I just can't wait to attend. This is my big conference for the year. I went to a small one in Pittsburg, Kansas in April and will go to ORA CON in Springfield, MO. next month. I think of it as my Time-to-shape-up-and-write program.

      Delete
  5. Good stuff here. I've been to KN several years with a friend. After the day's seminars are done we usually hit a restaurant for food then back to the motel for sleep. It's exhausting but fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And Nashville is just an amazing city too. It's tempting to do too much while you're there. Fortunately my family is from that area so I've been to most of the tourist spots over the years. I usually get acquainted with new people and take advantage of a restaurant if there's time. It really is exhausting. Thanks for chiming in.

      Delete
  6. I'll look for you at Killer Nashville. I moved to Nashville in 2008 and have been to each of the KN conferences starting in 2009. I choose different panels and workshops every year. I printed out the agenda, but most of the panels still have TBAs. I moved here from the Central Valley of California where I knew Sunny Frazier. She was on one of the KN panels one year too. I think you'll have a good time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad someone will look familiar at the conference. My novel takes place in northern California in a little town called Grass Valley. My extended family lives south of Nashville in Lewisburg. My parents grew up there. My son got his masters degree at UT! See you there.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post - lots of useful tips. I loved your comment about having a garage sale to pay for the cost of the hotel. Well played.

    We writers do what we have to do, to learn our craft!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa. Coming from you that is a compliment. I appreciate all your helpful tips from your blog.

      Delete
  9. Hi there, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to talk- please email me when you can. Thanks so much! lindseyDOTcaldwellATrecallcenterDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  10. Have fun! I hope you get a lot out of it (and the money you paid :) )

    ReplyDelete