I am finally able to attend a conference, and I am really looking forward to my chapter’s Desert Dreams http://desertroserwa.org/desertdreams event from April 7-10th in Scottsdale, Arizona. I miss seeing friends, and look forward to catching up doing my favorite thing: talking about writing with other writers. But there’s so much more to be gained from a conference, so I’d like to suggest a few tips for those of you attending any conference, but especially one held by your own chapter.
If you can, support your chapter with more than just your registration fee. Invest in some swag for the goodie bags. Bookmarks are great, but unfortunately, there’s so many of them that I often see them discarded. So try for something a little more substantial (I give out nail files with a plastic case that has my website address on it.) Get creative with something that attendees will actually keep, at least for a while. If you do a bookmark, why not have a ruler on the other side? At least you have a better chance of having someone pop it in his or her desk at work. I’ve seen pens, chapstick, even a lint brush! (And have looked up the author’s website long after the conference, when I have the time and I’m looking for a new read.)
My chapter also will make posters of our books and hang them in the conference rooms. I will have six around the place this year. Also, a ¼ page ad in the program, with yet another photo of another of my book covers (total cost, $100. If this is out of your budget, hook up with a friend to do an ad, or a two book poster, as I did below at my last conference with fellow author Erin Quinn.) I may not be able to meet everyone, but they will know I was there! (Is it seven times someone has to see your name to remember it? Something like that.) Regardless, I will also be supporting my chapter to make a profit, so we can do another conference in future.
I also donate a large basket for the literacy drawing, and another smaller one for a give-a-way to attendees. I love making baskets, and prepare for them all year long. The best time is to hit Michael’s after Christmas! I can pick up some lovely boxes and baskets, and many gifts for the out-of-towners that they may appreciate, all at a discount. And if one of my chapter mates wins one, they are always so grateful. It astounds me how many of our authors don’t read each other’s books. One year I did a basket give-a-way, and the winner blogged about it, and how wonderful my books were (almost as if it was surprising, lol.)
If you’re published or seeking to be published, this is an important tip for any conference: Be kind to everyone, even in the bathroom. I love to meet new people, so this isn’t hard for me. But if you’re the kind of person who gets overwhelmed sometimes, take a break. Go to your room and rest to get back your energy. Since I am still not quite 100% well, I may have to resort to plenty of breaks this year. And listen, if a mistake or two is made at the conference, please don’t take it personally. No one is targeting you. A conference is accomplished by volunteers who have a million details to juggle, and mistakes will happen. Take it graciously. Don’t scream and yell that you have been mistreated (yes, I’ve had this happen to me at the Editor/Agent appointment desk. Then the gal realized she had made the mistake, and well, you get the idea.) Keep it professional (including what you’re wearing. With that said, remember, the gal standing next to you in blue jeans and flip flops in the food line just might be the editor of your dreams.) For after all, the impression you make can enhance or damage your career.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten many tips, so feel free to share. Maybe something you learned from attending a conference? Please feel free to add to this!
My Magical Best,