How to Survive a Writer’s Conference (Or an Introvert’s Guide to Being Social)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I attended a writer’s conference recently. This is the second one I’ve been to this year, and I like to think I’ve learned a few things about doing conferences well. Some of these things I’ve been told to do, others I’ve had to discover through trial and error. Hopefully they’ll help you in the event you go to one.

Don’t be scared. I know it sounds obvious, but I was still incredibly nervous going to my first conference. Knowing that all those editors and agents would be there, as well as writers who were more experienced and successful than I was, was intimidating. But I learned something crazy: they want me to succeed. Not only that, they want to help me succeed. The people at writer’s conferences aren’t competing, they are encouraging each other. So don’t be worried.

Rest. Conferences are packed full of activities. Don’t feel guilty if you need to skip a session in favor of a break. You need to be at your best, so take time to recharge your social battery.

Make an effort to connect. Don’t just observe the conference; actively engage. Talk shop with the other conferees during breaks. Stay after the workshops to ask the teachers questions. Hand out business cards. Sign up for as many one on one meetings as you can. Even if you don’t pitch at every one of them, you can still ask questions and make connections. After the conference, follow up on with the people you met. Send thank you notes. People will remember you.

Smile. Chances are, the people at the conference are as nervous as you are. Even something as simple as putting on a smile makes you more approachable.

I hope this advice was helpful! For those of you who have been to conferences, what sort of things have you found to be useful?

Until next time, fellow wonderers!

P.S. If you’re missing the Evolution of Fairy Tales series, I’ll be resuming that next week.

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