Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference (a sell-out this time!) is about to begin in Brisbane. I won’t be attending, since I exhausted my poor old piggy bank at the Washington conference. Ironically, this post is about why you should hot-foot it to these events if you’re an aspiring writer.
1. Meet the editor and/or agent and/or critique partner of your dreams at the cocktail bar.
2. Get a request for your manuscript.
3. Hear all sorts of opinions on how to get and stay published – some conflicting, some confusing, some enlightening, some you might’ve heard before. But this is a great opportunity to ask questions of people who’ve been there, done that.
4. Come away with lots of material to fill those daily blog posts.
5. Learn more about your craft.
6. Find like-minded people who understand the plight of having heroes and heroines clamouring for attention inside your head.
7. Get free books.
8. Buy books.
Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Don’t bail up an editor/agent when they’re technically off-duty and talk their ears off about your work. If you find yourself in the vicinity of one, just be friendly and polite. Trust me, they’re only human beings. I sat next to agent Donald Maass on a flight from a Melbourne conference (sheer coincidence, I swear) and we didn’t even talk about publishing. I’d already pitched to him at conference; didn’t need to do it twice. But if the editor/agent asks you about your ms, by all means talk as much as you like – or until they start crab-walking away from you.
2. Do go to as many workshops, parties, dinners, gatherings as possible even if you’re the most introverted person ever. Stay up late, get up early. This is the time to let loose after spending all those days and nights canoodling with your keyboard.
3. If you’re shy, find another shy-looking person and make small talk like, “So what do you write?” or “Are you pitching this year?” or “What did you think of that workshop?” It’ll take your mind off your own nervousness and maybe help the other person feel at ease.
4. Do go up to your favourite author and tell them what you enjoy about their books. Ask them to sign one of their novels for you. Authors live for that kind of stuff.
5. Do take loads of pictures. (This is actually a note to self. I carried my camera everywhere in Washington but ended up with more photos from the Smithsonian Zoo than I did from the actual conference. The animals were cute, though.)
6. Do volunteer. Sure, you paid to be there, but being a vollie can be rewarding. Last year I volunteered at the registration desk in San Fran. I worked alongside Nora Roberts’s publicist and she invited me to the Harlequin ball, where she introduced me to la Nora herself.
7. I can’t think of any more reasons. I’ll turn it over to you now. What are your do’s, don’ts and reasons for conferring with others?