Are You Making a Conference Checklist?

The truth is, I don’t make one list; I make at least three before going out my front door. Along with many, I’m attending a special conference next week in Denver. You can bet I’m making all kinds of preparations, the first of which is reminding myself what the conference experience usually involves.

A few truths about conferences:

  • You will love some things, feel meh about other things, but the group organizing always puts on a fabulous event. Pick what you want to do and enjoy it. The best part is that you have an opportunity to step away from the computer and interact with people who share your love for the romance genre.
  • Try to check shyness at the door. But if you can’t, lurking can be a nice precursor to boldness (as in approaching an editor). Gathering information in workshops, spotlights, and parties is highly beneficial.
  • If you’re pitching, you might get nervous. Think of the pitch as a conversation and not a pitch. Over-preparation can really help. When I know my material cold, I am far less nervous. Pitching isn’t as bad as you think, and if it’s worse, then you pitched to the wrong person. A part of my job as an editor/pitch listener is to create an environment where you feel comfortable enough to pitch.
  • This is for both writers/editors: Just when you think you can’t take anymore, you can. At my first RWA, where I didn’t pace myself, I got to Friday night and thought I might fall over. Thanks to the fun chatter of an author sitting next to me, I found my second wind and charged on. You can fall over when you get home.
  • Chug water and avoid sugar and carbs. I break these rules every single time, indulging in all the caffeine and dessert bars. Try to find me during the final ceremony. I’m the wired one with the glazed eyes (wishing for another piece of cake).
  • You may or may not have a career-changing moment. The conference is more fun when you’re not so attached to the outcome.
  • The things I hear most from writers post-conference is how inspired they are afterwards. I feel the same way. This, at the very least, makes the conference experience worthwhile in addition to the dessert bars.

What to pack:

  • A little extroversion
  • Business cards
  • Schedule of events
  • Everyone’s cell phone number
  • Knitting, 4 magazines (for the plane)
  • 6 changes of clothes and maybe 1 more just because
  • gym clothes–who are we kidding
  • 1 manuscript to edit
  • Charger!

–Advice from the Archives from Patience Bloom a little revised from her blog