During FCWC, I scribbled smiley faces next to some items that contributed to a smooth, first conference experience and also jotted down a list of things to bring next time. If you’re a soon-to-be, first-time conferee, I hope these eight items will help you prepare for your conference.
What I'm glad I brought with me:
- A goal. Yes, you should have a goal in mind, even if it's as basic as, "I want to learn how to be a better writer." The orientation speaker asked us first timers to share with another conferee our reason for coming. Verbalizing your goal makes you prioritize how you will use your time and which workshops you will attend.
- Business cards. You can make them yourself or order them. Many conferees I met used Vistaprint. Make sure to include your social media and contact information.
- A flash drive. Writers, even if you come prepared with your proposals, be aware that the atmosphere at a writer's conference is full of creative ideas that may set the wheels of your craft spinning. I revised my proposal a couple times at FCWC – and became good friends with the staff who supervised the printing station.
- My homework. I had done my research on publishers who would be present and was prepared to schedule appointments.
- A highlighter. Yes, I missed my highlighter. You will have handouts thrown at you (literally, in the case of Steven James’ workshop, one of the most enjoyable, stimulating classes I attended).
- My Nalgene bottle. Workshops are back to back, and if you don’t rehydrate, you will wilt.
- An author flyer. I think as writers, we become so focused on our books that we forget to market ourselves. Another writer gave me this idea, and I recommend it for next time. (Editors and agents don’t want to collect lengthy proposals but may accept a single-page handout.)
- My pitch on the back of my business card. This is another tip I learned from a fellow writer, and it makes beautiful sense. After all, your pitch should be concise enough to fit on the back of your business card.