1. Make your plans early.
Often the cost of the conference rises after a certain date. Note that date and secure your spot ahead of time.
The same goes for hotel rooms. If the conference offers a special rate for conferees, grab it early even if you’re not absolutely certain you will be attending. It is much easier to release a room back into the block than it is to scramble around and end up having to stay in another hotel because you waited too long.
Decide as far ahead of time as possible how you will get there. Often groups will gather and caravan to conferences. This is always great fun although not always feasible. If you decide to fly, utilize fare watches to check for the best price. Keep in mind that booking ahead may land you with a nice discount on the fare.
2. Be prepared.
Make a packing list at least one week before you depart. Keep your list handy and, if possible, your suitcase open and available. That way you can add your must-brings to the suitcase as you acquire them. Be sure to include chargers for your essential appliances.
Pack for the event and not for the weather. No matter the month, it always seems like hotel conference rooms are chilly. Dress in layers and bring a jacket or light sweater for those frigid classrooms. Talk to others who have been to the conference in prior years to find out what conferees usually wear. Look over photos of previous events to get an idea of what might work best.
Back in my days as a publicist, I learned the trick of basing my outfit on black tops, trousers, and skirts and accessorizing to change up outfits. By keeping to a neutral palette, all of my clothes work together and I do not have to pack as many items. A bonus is that with black, no one will notice if you got jittery and spilled coffee on your skirt right before you go in to a meeting with an agent or editor.
3. Don’t forget the essentials when packing your conference suitcase:
• A professional-looking portfolio with a legal pad, a pocket for notes or one-sheets, a slot for business cards, and a loop to hold your pen. Even if conferees are given totes or something of that sort upon registration, I find that carrying a portfolio into a meeting makes me feel much more together and prepared. I can easily check before the meeting to be sure I’ve got what I want to present to the editor, and I also have my notes on what I want to discuss. I don’t have to hunt around in a tote for pen, paper or business cards either.
• Plenty of business cards. The last thing you want to do is run out of cards. You’ll be exchanging them with a lot of people, so plan ahead and be sure you’ve got at least several hundred on hand before you leave.
• A water bottle, healthy snacks, etc. Eat healthy, hydrate, and try not to vary much from your usual routine. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so good fuel is essential.
1. Breathe. Yes, breathe. I’ve seen first time conferees get so wound up that they end up exhausting themselves to the point where they are unable to enjoy the conference. Conferences can be daunting, so any time you feel your stress level rising, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Add a prayer for peace and perhaps a reminder of just Who is in control. Repeat when necessary. It works. I promise.
2. Allow for divine appointments. If you’re so busy running from place to place
trying to make something wonderful happen, you just might miss the
something wonderful that’s happening right under your nose.
3. Know where you’re going. As soon as you’re able after picking up your
conference materials, determine where your workshops and meetings will be
held. Have a plan to get to them and an idea of how long it will take to walk
there. Pay attention to the clock and allow at least ten minutes longer than
you think it will take. If you’re early, great. That’s much better than having to
hurry and risk being late.
4. Smile and introduce yourself to conferees you don’t know. Maybe you’re not
the outgoing type. Well guess what. During this conference, you will be. Some
of my best friends started out as strangers I met at writers conferences. You
never know when your smile might be the one that stranger desperately
needed. If you need an inspiration, think of something fun, maybe something you did as a child that never failed to make you grin.
5. Consider buying audio files of the conference. Often an entire conference of
workshops can be had for a relatively low price if purchased during the
conference. Imagine having every workshop at your fingertips and at your convenience! It’s a great purchase to consider, especially if you were unable to attend all the workshops that caught your interest.
1. Follow up. Gather all those business cards you exchanged and connect with them, either through emails or on social media. Did you promise an agent or editor a proposal or manuscript? Send. It. Not ready to send? Fine, but set a calendar date no more than two months in the future and stick to that date.
Maybe you went to a workshop you really enjoyed. Odds are that teacher is accessible online. Let him or know not only that you enjoyed the class but why. Pats on the back are few and far between, and they’re so simple to do.
If the conference offers feedback forms, make sure to fill yours out. Without feedback, coordinators cannot continue to improve the services offered to conferees.
2. Send thank you notes. Your mother was right. Saying thank you is not only polite, it is memorable. A simple note, be it an email or an actual card sent via snail mail, is a wonderful way to thank an editor or agent for his or her time or a workshop presenter for what you’ve learned.
Those are a few of my favorite tips. Now tell me some of yours!
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of over forty novels with more than one million copies of her books in print in the United States and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she was recently nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well as a Reader’s Choice Award by Romantic Times magazine. has four grown children, seven bonus children, and her very own hero in combat boots. Find out more about Kathleen at www.kathleenybarbo.com.
Widowed contractor Logan Burkett knows exactly what troublemaking teens need: discipline. A former rabble-rouser, Logan had his life turned around by firm guidance and hard work. But try telling that to Pippa Gallagher. The softhearted event planner runs a skate park ministry for troubled teens and thinks a place to be themselves is the answer. As he and Pippa work together renovating the space, they seem to disagree about everything. But when disaster strikes, Logan finds himself feeling very protective of the beautiful planner and surprised to discover they share one very special thing in common…love.
Second Time Around:
Widowers find that love can bloom again…
Two very lucky commenters will win a print copy of Their Unexpected Love. Leave a comment and check back in the Weekend Edition.