Thursday, June 02, 2011

Writer People, Please!!! Control Your Conference Karma

Current Project: Putting together two proposals requested by an agent
Status: Beginning

So you’re going to a writers conference! Could be good news for your writing career; could be bad news: too early to tell. Many a writer’s career took off at a conference; many took a nosedive.

What controls whether or not your attendance is a good idea?
Your attitude and your behavior. Cool, huh? Your conference destiny is within your control! That doesn’t mean controlling it is easy or instinctive. Hard work and painful self-awareness are involved. Here are my no-holds-barred tips to get you prepared:

1.)    Know what you want to get out of this particular conference.
Having goals and focus is important if you want to make the most of your conference attendance. Your goal for your first conference may be simply to discover what it’s like and how it works. Some conferences offer unique opportunities, such as the chance to attend a workshop taught by someone you admire, or the chance to network with people from all over the country, or the chance to pitch to an agent who’s impressed you. Over time, you will grow as a writer. Most likely your needs and goals will change from conference to conference as well.

2.)    Writer people, please!
Remember: your reputation is a terrible thing to waste. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. If someone is rude or hurts your feelings, write about it in your Conference Negativity Journal. Then focus on your positive experiences—of which there are always many more. First and foremost, don’t gossip, criticize or complain. Be professional.

After the conference, take your negativity journal home and burn it in your backyard fire pit. Cleanse any remaining anger from your soul. Decide if there’s a lesson to be learned from the unhappy experience. Then move on.

3.)   Build positive karma.
Volunteering adds to your positive image, besides giving you additional chances to network. For example, if you introduce a speaker (AKA agent, editor, best-selling author, up-and-coming writer), that person will remember you. That’s networking at its finest!

Or you might help set up the banquet hall with another unpublished writer, and two years later she may be a best-selling author who will remember you and agree to give you a quote for your debut book. I kid you not; these things happen. That’s positive karma at work.

4.)    Don’t chicken out. (Liar! You know exactly what I mean.)
If you plan to pitch, then pitch, dammit! The more you put yourself out there as a writer, the easier it gets. Really. Most agents and editors are very nice people who want to help writers. Even if they aren’t interested in your story, many will give you invaluable advice as well as feedback on your pitch.

5.)    Spread the love.
Smile, smile, and smile some more. Bolster spirits. Encourage participation. Ask questions. Really listen to others. Share the limelight. Hang out with other smiling people. Thank everyone for everything.

Remember that Conference Negativity Journal? Keep a Conference Gratitude Journal as well. Treasure this record of your conference experience. Read it often. Feel your power.
And smile.


chanceofbooks said...

loved this post, Sarah!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks, Bethany.

Genene Valleau said...

This was a fun post, Sarah, and I loved the title! Oh yeah, it also contained a lot of good advice. :)

Tam Linsey said...

Nice checklist, Sarah. Thanks for putting it up!

Paty Jager said...

Great post, Sarah. Are you by any chance going to Nationals?

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Genene and Tam. Paty, I'm not going to Nationals this year. I'm hoping to go next year in Anaheim, CA.

Vonnie Alto said...

I agree with everything you said, Sarah. It's essential to have goals when going to a conference otherwise you can get sidetracked. As for rude attenders, I try to avoid them to protect my reputation.

It just occurred to me that the opposite of negativity is gratitude. I never thought of a conference gratitude/negativity journal. What an interesting concept!

Judith Ashley said...

I really agree with your tip on volunteering. I've found it an invaluable experience for many being exposure and another is the 'what goes around comes around' concept.

Thanks for all the good ideas!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for stopping by, Vonnie and Judith. When you have time, check out some of the other bloggers' posts. They are a bunch of savvy writers!