Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Challenge #12: Conference Etiquette

I'm at the Florida Writers Conference in Lake Mary, Florida this weekend and having a great time talking to prospective clients, other industry professionals and the amazing staff and faculty of the FWA. While I'm here, a few of my clients are attending GayRomLit in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and getting up to all kinds of fun shenanigans if the FB pictures are anything to go by). Before they attend conferences, my clients usually ask me what should they be doing (especially if I'm not attending and there are pitch appointments available) so I thought it would make for a good blog post.

If you're an unagented author at a writer's conference, your focus should be to pitch your work to as many agents and editors as you can. Get your work and your face in front of these amazing individuals who will eventually fight each other for the privilege to say they signed you. If you're already represented however, what are you supposed to do?

  1. Talk to editors and agents about your work in casual conversation. When sitting at dinner or during any of the Meet and Greet events, approach the editor your agent is courting with your work and introduce yourself. You don't need to pitch your work, you simply want to garner interest and put a face to the pitch the agent has sent them. Mention anything you're working on and if they seem interested let them know you'll let your agent know they'd like to take a look at the project. Ask them for their business card and give them one of your own.
  2. When you get back to your room that night, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to speak to them that day and to e-introduce your agent. Make sure to cc your agent in the communication and mention that you spoke with them about your upcoming project and your agent will be following up with them.
  3. Network with other authors and ask them about their experience with the publishers you're interested in working with. If you hear too many negative experiences at one particular publisher, you know to avoid them and let your agent know. Make that discussion part of your career planning talk.
  4. Talk with readers and at book signing events, let them fangirl you. Feel free to talk about your upcoming projects or even works you're thinking about (especially if they're sequels to successful books) and start building the book buzz.
  5. Relax and schedule time during the day to take a nap, hydrate and spend some time away from the masses. You need to recharge your batteries and keep yourself as healthy as possible. While "Con-crud" is likely to set in when you leave, having moments of rest and keeping yourself hydrated go a long way toward keeping those nasty germs from settling in your system.
Conferences can be a great networking opportunity if you know how to do it. Mingle, mingle, mingle. If you're an introvert (and many authors are) think about attending your first conference with a close friend. Having a friendly face around while you're doing these scary things can help you feel more at ease.