Conference Tips, Bradley Cooper, & Daggers

June 15, 2011

Song of the day: Savior by Rise Against

Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts and a bit about conference etiquette. Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?


Do bring a camera. Don’t just bring it, take it with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll want to snap a picture. Great photo ops will constantly arise. Besides, what if on your way to a workshop you happen upon Bradley Cooper in the hotel lobby? Who’ll believe you without the evidence?

Do pack light. Let’s face it, we’re women. We have clothes for every situation. Not only that, the time of day for which that situation happens makes a difference to what we wear, too. Add to that all the salon products we use to make ourselves acceptable for facing the outside world.  It’s easy to get carried away, but I strongly suggest mixing and matching outfits and shoes. You’ll not want to schlep the extra luggage.

Do pack snacks. There are many meals not provided by RWA and you’ll be on your own. Bring nutrition bars, trail mix, crackers, small boxes of cereal, packets of tea or Crystal Light, or whatever packable foods you like to munch on. Bonus! You’ll save tons of money if you don’t step out to delis and restaurants for each meal.

Do budget for shipping costs. With all those free books, you’ll likely want to ship a box or two home. Or, bring an empty carry-on suitcase. Fill your books and other souvenirs in your bag and check it in at the airport.

Do have business cards handy.  Give them out freely.  Carry an empty business card holder for the cards you collect. Write pertinent information about the people you meet on the backs of their cards. Your mind will be mush when you get home and this will help you remember who they are later.

Do wear comfy shoes. Got a new pair bought just for the conference? Break them in now. You will be doing a lot of walking. It never fails. You will have a room on the far side of the hotel and most hotels do not have those nifty moving walkways. Trust me, no matter the care you take or how trusty your footwear is, you’ll need band-aids, so bring lots of them.

Overall, BE CONFIDENT. When you are confident, people gravitate to you and respect you as a professional. I’m not saying that to scare the introverts. Even an introvert can display confidence and be seen as professional.  In a way, this is part of branding yourself.



Don’t get slobbering drunk.  This should be self-explanatory. No lamp shades on your head, professing your love loudly for everyone in the room, or dancing on the tables.

Don’t be rude, bad mouth, or complain, even among friends. What comes around, goes around. You could be overheard, or your words taken out of context. People may not always remember those who are kind and polite, but they never forget someone who is ugly.

Don’t dress inappropriately. Another no-brainer. No stripper clothes. No Cher or Lady Gaga outfits. No Daisy Dukes. You get the picture.

Don’t stalk the pros. Keep in mind they are there panning for gold, too, but they are talking with hundreds of people.  Approach them if they seem receptive. Pick up on their cues. They are just like you and I, they like their personal space and may be tired. If they seem uninterested, be gracious, offer a business card, and move on.

Don’t line cut. Yes, people do this, and if daggers could be thrown from dirty looks, it would be a crime scene writer’s conference.

Don’t crash parties. There are many parties that are open for all conference attendees. But some are not. It’s bad form. Remember those daggers?

Don’t try to sell your book. You will not walk away from the conference with a contract in hand no matter how great your novel. Pitch your book, yes, but sell yourself!

There you have it, my do’s and don’ts for conference. And complimentary pictures of Mr. Cooper.

One last thing I’d like to add. No matter what type of conference you attend, you won’t be able to do it all, so relax, and most of all HAVE FUN!

Got anything to add? Let me hear from you.