What Not to Forget at Conference

Miss CP is doing a small series on writing conferences, to celebrate the fact that once again she has not made it to California for the ONE best conference every writer should attend. Plus, I promised a reader that I’d prime the laughter pump for the “newbies,” that is, writers who’ve never before plunked down a serious chunk of change to attend this legendary event.

The conference posts long lists of stuff to bring. So I thought perhaps I’d make an list of stuff not to forget. Here goes:
The Don’t Forget Conference List For Newbies
Don’t Forget:
  • Sliding a book proposal under the bathroom stall to reach the agent who’s in there is poor form. This urban myth just won’t die. At least wait until she’s dried off her hands at the sink.
  • Your deodorant, toothpaste, teeth, and phone charger. You want to make an impression, not instigate mass panic. And while we’re on the subject of personal grooming, don’t forget that a writing conference is NOT a day spa. If you bring more than three hair appliances, you’ll likely trip the circuits and throw the whole conference into darkness.
  • At the Group Pitch session, please keep your elbows in and your manners on. Nobody likes a time-hog. I guess this goes for the bathroom mirror too. And if you’re as far-sighted as I am, bring your own magnifying mirror–so you can look 10x worse the morning after a sleepless night listening to your roomie snore.
  • You will NOT be able to gauge an agent/editor’s interest by a) how many chapters you’re asked to send, b) how many extra minutes you manage to squeeze out of your one-on-one, or c) whether or not the agent/editor sitting across from you at dinner smiles. She might be frantically trying to get the broccoli out from between her front teeth. Or he might be sitting there scowling, wishing for Preparation H.
  • Try not to plot the demise of your roommate, who’s just signed with the top agent and has the editors already talking “fast track.” There will be other conferences, dear newbie. Besides, green is a bad color on most of us. If you can’t resist jealousy, contact Miss Crankypants and we’ll have a big ol’ pity party. Think about it this way: Next year you’ll be an Old-Timer, herding a new crop of newbies around their first writing conference.
In response to last post about the CRY Room–which I still say every conference needs, an agent wrote in to say that sometimes the “Send me 3 chapters” line is the kindest thing agents are able to muster. Especially when the newbie has dissolved into tears right in front of her. Point well-taken. See? This biz is tough on all of us.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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