Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Not To Do At A Conference

It's nearly conference season again and I thought I'd share some of what I've learned about them with you. First let me put your mind at ease. Agents and editors expect you to be nervous and they don't mind. Take a deep breath and remember they are people too. They want to like your book. Now to the good stuff.

1) Come prepared. If you know you'll clam up and forget what to say bring notes or a copy of your query letter. Don't read straight from it if you can avoid it. Agents want to interact with you. Bring a copy of your first ten pages just in case, but do NOT push it on them unless they ask for it. Typically agents don't like business cards. They say they get lost or end up as scratch paper. It may not be the rule, but it is the consensus of the majority of agents I've talked to.

2) Don't bring gifts, gimmicks, or props. You don't want to know what I've heard agents say about this. Let's just say most of them see it as a cover for the fact that your writing may be lacking and you may be trying to make up for it. They want your work to stand out on it's own.

3) Don't lie, ever, about anything. It isn't worth it, it won't get you a deal or an agent, and they will find out.

4) Be polite and respectful. People in this industry talk, a lot, and you don't want to burn any bridges because they all connect. Agents aren't at a conference because they need to be, they're there because you need them to be. They have authors they already represent, manuscripts to critique or read, and editors to call or meet. It is a kindness that they take the time out of their busy schedules to attend.

Now relax and have fun. We write because we love it, remember that above all else. I'd love to hear any other great tips or tidbits of information anyone has on conferences!



  1. Oy, conference season! I will find at least one that will be a not-to-be-missed event. Bouchercon in October is always a draw for me. Great advice, Heather.

  2. Heather, these are all great tips! And many good conferences to attend. I wish I could do them all!

  3. OH, Heather,

    This is SO PERFECT. I just posted today for some help on this subject.... I am going to the SCBWI conference in NYC at the end of the month and I am a wreck about it....

    Your post certainly takes some of my anxiety away...

    It's nice to drop by.... Hugs to you, LInda, and Karlene and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  4. Happy New Year back to you, Michael, and hugs, too! Enjoy the conference!

  5. Linda, that's an excellent one to go to! I really need to check it out this year. I'll be attending PNWA for sure as well as Surrey! For signings though.

    Karlene, thank you, and me too!

    Lin, thank you. You wouldn't believe how many times I've been with an agent somewhere and someone nearby was talking bad about agents. It's terrible!

    Michael, that's fantastic! Relax, call or text if you need advise, and just remember, they're people too. Happy new year and hugs to you too!