I LOVE the last answer “Write purdy”
I am seriously considering attending this conference. The only hiccup is that I have already made plans to attend the ConCarolinas SciFi convention in May. Alas, I only have so many babysitting favors to call in and only so much money to spend on these endeavors. Yet I still find myself drooling over another learning opportunity of this caliber, especially when it’s in my own town. Maybe I’ll see if they offer scholarships. Hey, ya never know. I may just see you there.
I’m going to start randomly posting Webster’s word of the day. We should never stop learning.
Friday morning, the bagels were cold and the fruit was warm but we had all come together with one purpose in mind, Writing.
I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do. Walking into the breakfast arena, or area but I personally like arena better, I realized that I was a tad over dressed. Not really over dressed, but enough that I felt I stood out. Which isn’t always a bad thing. The main thing is that everyone was very friendly, and I loved all my new clothes I had bought just for this weekend so as long I liked the way I looked and was comfortable I was good to go.
Finding a table to eat at was very similar to your first day at High School. You’re an insecure Freshman all over again. But I just randomly chose a table where it wasn’t too full and it looked like the ladies where already having a discussion. And I totally lucked out, I was sitting with two other attendees and the owner of a small publishing company. Here is where conference etiquette (also known as common sense) comes to play.
What I DID NOT DO was start into a million question about, oh what do you publish, you’d love my novel, it’s about blah, blah, blah. It’s bagels and small talk people, not a pitch session.
What I DID DO was join in the conversation they were already having. I told a few funny stories, and got to know her as a Person, not a Publisher. She is also a writer herself, so it was fun to talk about how dreadful it is when your characters don’t listen to you.
That is when I met the ever interesting Aurelia Sands of Deer Hawk Publications.
The main point of this post is
1- You have to put yourself out there. I would even suggest going solo and not with a friend so you Have to speak to others more often and not cling to the one person you know.
2-Publishers are people. Obvious but it still needs to be said. While they are there to find great writers (duh) if you don’t respect their boundaries they will talk about you behind your back. (It happens)
3-If you make a friend or even an acquaintance then you will feel more comfortable walking up and speaking to them during the sessions and the rest of the conference. Believe me, they will ask “So what do you write?'” or “What’s your book about?” They WANT to know, they WANT to find you so there is no need to cram your masterpiece down their throats.
Bottom Line: Manners are free people, go get you some.
So I have decided that instead of going through a few highlights, and ranting about how awesome the conference was, I’m going to break it down into segments to really show everyone what the Conference experience is like for a newbie (such as myself).
I arrived at the Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach late Thursday evening (my husband was installing a tankless water heater and the time got away from him) so I checked in later than I had planned. I got all settled into my room (which was lovely despite the view of the parking lot) and made sure to hang up all my new “grown up” clothes. I was hungry and tempted to just have something sent up to my room, but I was here to meet people so down to the bar I went. Unfortunately there weren’t any writer types in the bar area but I did strike up a conversation with some nice folks who were there for a 911 conference. So I got a yummy quesadilla, a stiff Makers Mark and Ginger Ale, and some pretty cool 911 stories. Not too shabby an evening.
My point of even getting into this whole thing, is that you never know who you’re going to meet. I was tired, I wanted to work on my novel and crash (God knows peace and quiet is a hot commodity in my house) but I told myself that’s not why I”m here. If I wanted to run out to a hotel and write in solitude, it would have to be another weekend, because this weekend was for learning as much as humanly possible, and meeting as many new peers as possible. Granted, I didn’t meet anyone from “my” conference that night but I did meet some interesting people. I was even able to join in a conversation at breakfast the following morning because I knew who the other conference was for and tell them about my night. Instant conversation, throw in a few jokes, and they’ll be eating out of your hand. Not literally, that would be gross, even if it was just bagels.
But my loyal readers is a story for tomorrow. So just to recap:
1. Hang up your damn clothes, you’re an adult for Christ’s sake.
2. Step out of your comfort zone (that’s a recurring thing over the weekend)
3. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation that’s already happening (politely of course)
Tomorrow I’ll talk about having breakfast with a publisher, that days sessions, expectations vs. reality and proper footwear.
Good night and fare the well.
I’m not going to act like some kind of fashion expert, half the time my pajamas double as my regular clothes (thank you yoga pants by the way), but I can do research and let other people who seem to know what they’re talking about tell me what to wear. And then share that with all you kind folks. Also, I may have never “actually” been to a conference, but I know people who have and I’ve grilled them and this is the low down that I’ve gleaned from the internet and those interviews.
BUSINESS CASUAL is the way to go. “But Cayce, what in the name of all that is holy IS business casual?” you may ask. Why thank you for asking. It’s what you would wear to a regular day at the office. Not high-powered attorney’s office, and not secretary at a lumber mill, but somewhere in between. What you may wear if you worked, say in an office that handles corporate billing. Think slacks, blouses and close toed shoes.
WEAR LAYERS is something else that I have been told. The temperature varies room to room at these conferences and you don’t want pit stains or chattering teeth. So go with a light blouse or tank top, paired with a cardigan or sweater. I like to add an accent scarf, and then if I get chilly I just wrap it around my shoulders. It looks pretty cool as well.
DON’T FORGET THE SHOES Those super high heels may be rockin’ it at the club but they are not doing you any favors at a conference. Feel free to have fun with your foot wear but be practical, comfortable, and polished. No one wants to see your smelly gym shoes next to them for an hour during a class. I’m just saying. I gravitate toward closed-toe, because I think it looks more professional, but I don’t think it’s much of a rule. Just try to keep it classy people.
PROFESSIONAL that means if you don’t think you’d be comfortable wearing that to work then please don’t wear it here. This is not the time to express yourself with a low-cut tank or tights for pants. By the way, pet peeve, tights are NOT pants. If they were they would be called pants and not tights. They are meant to go under things like dresses and long sweaters. Sorry, I digress, you want to be treated and thought of as a professional so please dress like one. Let your creativity show through your writing.
BRANDING Now this is just something I plan on doing and isn’t a rule by any means but I am hoping to find a scarf and other accessories the same color (or close enough) as my business cards and this blog. Think of it this way, when two agents are talking about you (because they totally will because you are awesome) and they can’t recall your name right away what do you want them to remember about you? I can be, “You know, the girl with the blue scarf” or something to that effect. Also I think it makes you seem more polished and together subconsciously and they may not even put it together but I think it will stick in their minds and help make you more memorable.
EVERY CONFERENCE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT The conference I am attending in a few days (Yikes!) is at the beach. It is a mid-sized conference and from what I’ve been told more on the casual side. The larger ones in NYC tend to be a bit more dressed up, and the smaller one’s in Tennessee tend to be more dressed down. So take that into consideration when you plan your outfits. One of the outfits I posted below is very casual but I still have it as a maybe because of the comfort level and stylish look.
Here are a few outfits I’m going to keep in mind whilst I shop this week. As well as a link to my Pinterest board dedicated specifically to conference wear. I hope this helped you in some small way, and remember take all this advice (as well as all other advice) with a grain of salt. Do what makes you comfortable and makes you “You”
Here’s the link to my Pinterest Board: