Friday, July 2, 2010

What not to do at your first conference

Conference season is almost upon us. Attending your first conference can be a bit like your first day at school – new faces, timetables, worried you’ll have no one to sit with at lunch…
Being a veteran of a whole one conference I’m eminently under qualified to dish out advice but that’s never stopped me before ;-)

1. Succumb to the ‘Do I know you? Should I know you? Have I read you?’ paranoia. If in doubt just smile and talk about that great common denominator – biscuits.
2. Take any credit cards or cash unless you’re prepared to buy lots of books. Every author will do such a brilliant job of selling themselves that the urge to buy their book and then chase them round campus, pen in hand and asking for autographs, will almost certainly overtake you.
3. Talk banal drivel to a badge-less person. They will undoubtedly be VIWs (Very Important Writers) and while they might be glad of a change of subject from their RITA successes and multi book contracts it will make you look a bit of a prat. (Checking your accommodation list reduces this risk, take it from someone who wished she’d done that last year!)
4. Underestimate the importance of the tea queue as a source of great advice. Some of the best tips I picked up last year weren’t in the seminars but while reaching for a jammy dodger.
5. Forget where you put your water when a talk begins. You’ll inevitably kick it over the shoes of the person in front of you. (Sorry if that was you. Hope they dried out okay!)
6. Be afraid to eavesdrop – really, you’ll pick up great gems of gossip about publishers, the nitty-gritty of contracts… all that stuff that no one puts into writing out of political correctness.

1. Take advantage of opportunities to chat to editors and agents. Where else can you get instant, informed feedback from those in the know?
2. Expect to go home more enthused about getting stuck into writing time than seeing your nearest and dearest again!

If you're attending the RNA conference this year come and say hello to me, Lorraine Wilson and fellow minxes Joanne, Romy and Maya.


Joanne Coles said...

Great post, Lorraine! And I'm sure that VIW didn't think you were a prat!! I expect she was glad to have someone talk to her like a normal person instead of salivating all over her :-)

And I so needed to hear all that advice!

Romy Sommer said...

I can't wait to meet you all there! I just hope by the time I get to London the world will no longer be swaying around me and my chest will be able to breathe again. Or else you'll all be visiting me in my bed in the accommodation!

Maya Blake said...

Oh, I'm getting soooo excited I'm counting the minutes! Great advice, Lorraine. I'm a bit partial to a jammy dodger myself so I'll be right with you in that queue!

Romy, get as much sleep as you can, my dear. We want you well and fit for shameless eavesdropping, er, I mean, mingling!!!

jenny wilson said...

great post- wish i was going to a confrence

Jackie Ashenden said...

I wish I was going too. Spare some change? A couple of grand should do it. ;-)

Maisey said...

Pfft...Jackie, you would be required to come to RWA to hang out with ME. But I'm not sending you money. :) Sell Dr. Jax's TV!!

Great post, Lorraine. I'll be a conference virgin in Orlando this year so I shall follow your advice. Though we won't have jammy dodgers and we'll have more coffee than tea. ;-)

Lorraine said...

What no jammy dodgers in the US? You're deprived!

Actually I'm now considering removing my own badge just to freak people out ;-)

I'm looking forward to meeting those of you who'll be there. Shame you can't make it Jenny and Jackie, maybe another year?

Lorraine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorraine said...

I should add that Kate Walker has written a much more sensible post for first time attendees on the RNA blog, if anyone wants to check it out -

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Terrific post, Lorraine. Will file a copy away so I can refer to it when I'm able to attend a conference (maybe next year?).

Thanks for the link - am off to check out Kate Walker's post.