Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 6, 2011

Conference Do’s and Don’ts

At this year’s conference attendees can sign up to attend a Mix and Mingle on Friday night with the faculty. This is a great opportunity for people to meet and network with agents, editors and published authors.  

You never know where getting to talk with industry professional in a social setting will lead, so I think it is important to discuss some of the things that will help you put your best foot forward. Remember, you are making an impression when you meet another person and you want that impression to be a good one.  Nobody wants to do business with someone they think is rude, so tamp down the aggressive behavior.

Here are some conference etiquette do’s and don’ts: 

I spent my whole weekend writing letters to the editors and agents, giving them the information they need for the conference and asking for critique donations for our Scholarship Fund. I normally do not repost an article, but I thought this one was worth repeating. Plus, it would help give me a few hours to get some other things on my list done. I did add a few new things if you read this last year.

At this year’s conference attendees can sign up to attend a Mix and Mingle on Friday night with the faculty. This is a great opportunity for people to meet and network with agents, editors and published authors.

You never know where getting to talk with industry professional in a social setting will lead, so I think it is important to discuss some of the things that will help you put your best foot forward. Remember, you are making an impression when you meet another person and you want that impression to be a good one. Nobody wants to do business with someone they think is rude, so tamp down the aggressive behavior.

Here are some conference etiquette do’s and don’ts:

Do:

1. Come with business cards and if you are an illustrator take the time to have some postcards of your art, so you can hand them out to editors, agents and others. All you are trying to do is peak their interest in you and your work. So save the porfolio for your portfolio review and or the portfolio exhibit and contest.

2. Be friendly. Have fun.

3. Take the time to read through all the faculty bios. Write down who you are meeting with and then make some notes about what you would talk about with them. Is there a question that you would like to ask? Is there someone you would love to meet? The photos are on the registration home page. If you know what they look like, you may be able to work your way in their direction. Make a plan.

4. If you have an editor or agent you want to meet and can’t seem to make that happen, ask someone on the conference committee if they will help you. Read books by featured conference authors in advance. It will make their presentation much more meaningful.

5. Do your homework. Look over the names of the authors. Do a Google search on them. Get to know their books. An author will be impressed and probably be more receptive to answering your questions and giving you industry tips.

6. Research the editors and agents. What books they have agented or edited? Look on Google. Read articles. Ask other writers. Look in your favorite books. The author usually will say something to recognize their editor. Finding out this information will give you a clue into their tastes. Plus, it can be a real conversation starter during the conference.

7. Think about your goals for the conference. A conference is a good place to look for critique partners and groups.

8. If you are attending the conference alone, try to make a friend to hang out with or ask someone on the conference committee to introduce you to someone who might take you under their wing. At this conference we go out of our way to put you at tables with not only, a different editor/agent at lunch, but also various authors. If you are attending alone, then think about signing up for the “Peer Group” critique session on Saturday night. You’ll get to work on your manuscript and meet like minded writers. Attend the “First Timers” pre-conference workshop. That will help break the ice and put you with a lot of other people who are looking for answers and people wanting to hook up with someone new to the conference.

9. Be prepared to learn. Take notes. Bring a few pencils, notepad and a highlighter, just in case.

10. Thank people that help you. Send notes to your critiquers after the conference.

11. Come with a list of questions that have been nagging you. This is the place to get answers to all those questions. If you don’t write them down when you are thinking of them, then they will probably fly out of your head when you are in the midst of the conference.

12. Illustrators sign up to exhibit a piece of art and work on your portfolio to display. The editors and agents will be judging them and a winner will be picked and recognized.

13. If you are an illustrator, enter the Logo Contest. Your logo and name could be published on the bags given out.

14. Look over the authors that will be selling their books at the book fair. Can you afford to purchase one of their books? If so, then do it. Someday, you will want someone to support you by buying your book. You could even purchase a book to give as a gift. We need to remember to support each other. What goes around comes around.

14. We have a good number of editors and agents signing their books this year. A smart person might use this as an opportunity to meet them. After you read their book, you could send a quick note letting them know how much you enjoyed it. Most authors like positive feedback on what they have written.

15. Bring your sense of humor with you. Besides being an opportunity and a place to learn, the Mix and Mingle and the whole conference should be enjoyable.

16. Prepare and rehearse a pitch, so you can spout off a few coherent sentences, when you are asked what are you working on.

17. Give other writers and illustrators a chance to talk to the faculty. You will have plenty of time during the weekend to network, so no need to hog the conversation.

Don’t:

Don’t:

1. Don’t become a gosspip story.There are numerous stories about authors who have followed an editor/agent into the bathroom and slipped a manuscript under the door or have snuck it into something they are carrying. Some have followed them to their hotel room, so they could leave something on the handle of their door. In fact don’t whip out your manuscript at the conference, unless the editor or agent asks you to physically hand it over. If an editor/agent is interested, ask them how they would like you to submit it.

2. Don’t cry or get mad if you get a negative critique. Not everyone likes every book they read and even if they truely act like they hate it, so what? That doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same way. Listen, ask questions and get as much out of the critique as you possibly can. They might spark an idea that breathes life into your story. Even if someone says you should give up writing, don’t let it bother you. They are wrong. Editors are wrong all the time. Most famous authors have been rejected over and over again.

3. Don’t bring gifts, booze, or line cards with glittery sprinkles or stars.

4. Don’t brag about your writing. If you are good they will realize it.

5. Don’t argue with the editor /agent if they say something you don’t agree with during your manuscript critique your manuscript.

6. Don’t cry or get mad. Not everyone likes every book they read and even if they truely act like they hate it, so what? That doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same way. Listen, ask questions and get as much out of the critique as you possibly can. They might spark an idea that breathes life into your story. Even if someone says you should give up writing, don’t let it bother you. They are wrong. Please don’t expect that, because it won’t happen and if it does, please let me know. Editors are wrong all the time. Most famous authors have been rejected over and over again.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Dear Aunt Kathy,

    Does #5 mean no more candles?

    Love,
    Your Secret Niece
    🙂

    Like

    • Nancy,

      It took me a while to figure the niece thing out. In fact, I must have walked around for a half hour and then it hit me. So you really got a delayed laugh with that one.

      Kathy

      Like

  2. The more I learn about writing, the more I learn how much I don’t know. So I’m approaching this Conference as a way to learn, learn, learn, not sell.

    Hilarious photo! I’m sure agents and editors have been accosted by this type.

    Like

    • Mary,

      You know you are on your way to success, when you realize how much there still is to learn.

      I thought that picture was funny too and said a lot.

      I added a few more things to the list. I hope you are planning to be pasrt of the exhibit and come up with something for the logo contest.

      Kathy

      Like

  3. Dear Kathy,

    I thank you for your great site and generous advises. You already answer so many of my questions – I hesitated registering for the conference, not knowing anyone attending but your post today has left me feeling more confident. I think I will be seeing you. Thank you again!

    Like

    • Louise,

      Having gone to many conference on my own, I know how that can feel. That is why I always have a planned dinner (who wants to esat alone?) and I am always looking for ways to bring people together. I added a couple things t the list, but I would make sure you come to the pre-conference “First Timers” workshop. I would think most of the people attending would be looking for people to hang out with. After it is over, we’ll encourage people to stay to meet each other.

      Plus, everyone on the conference committee are very nice and will make you feel right at home. In fact, everyone I know who is attending is friendly, so I feel very comfortable saying you will leave the conference having made new friends.

      Kathy

      Like

  4. Nice post Kathy! Thanks! Is there a way to find out others that are attending alone too? I’m perfectly fine being by myself and wouldn’t want to impose on people that already came with friends but if there was a way of knowing others who are going by themselves it might be nice to catch up with them.
    Thanks,
    Mandy

    Like

    • Mandy,

      Sign up and attend the “First Timers” workshop. I’ll have the hotel give us more time in the room, so people can meet each other afterwards. I’ll think about other ideas in the meantime.

      Kathy

      Like

  5. Great post Kathy, and looking very forward to the June workshop – last year’s was excellent – a fantastic mix of big names, inspiring speeches, useful craft talks, and hands on critique and meeting of editors/agents. Thanks so much for all the work you do for it and for the great Feb. 20th mentoring workshop. I can’t say enough how fantastic NJSCBWI’s conferences are! (and yes, that is the most fantastic photo ever. You could just post that photo under the heading “don’t” and let it stand alone! Ha!)

    Like

    • Sayantani,

      Missed seeing your comment on the picture. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. I think this qualifies as a good example of that.

      Can’t wait to see you at the conference,

      Kathy

      Like

  6. […] Conference Dos and Don’ts (gotta get ready for SCBWI in New York!) […]

    Like


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