I’m hardly a seasoned veteran of writing conferences, but I learned who to ask pretty quickly when I had questions. One of my biggest worries last year was what to bring to the national American Christian Fiction Writers conference. It was my first of any writing conferences so I asked some of my mentors and friends from the Dallas chapter of the ACFW. Here are their answers from last year.
This year, I’m still not a seasoned vet, but I’ll tell you what I did that worked and what I won’t try again.
This is huge for me because I’m not a stander. Even during the gala, I was thankful for my stylish, but terribly comfortable shoes!
I think that means something different for everyone. Last year I saw Sunday dresses, slacks, suits. Very few folks wore jeans, but some did. I don’t remember seeing anything more casual than that. I’ll probably pack an outfit for everyday and then an extra one just in case I change my mind. That’s been known to happen.
I will definitely bring a sweater with me this year. And I’m warning you. If I need a sweater, most folks will prefer a parka!
No heavy Baggage
This could be as much an emotional suggestion as a physical one. Last year I piled a filled binder, large camera, iPad, and wallet into my tote bag. Way too much. My shoulder and back hurt before I got to breakfast. This year, I’m focusing on just what I need … and a small camera. Here’s my list:
- Business cards
- Business card binder sheets (I like to write on the backs of the cards and keep them in order to help me remember when and where I met someone.)
- Note pad and pen
- The important things from my wallet (instead of the huge heavy thing itself)
- File folders with my one sheets and proposals (Since I don’t know which appointment I’ll get, I make sure I have the things that all four on my wishlist want to see.)
For those of you who have gone before, am I missing anything?
As far as the emotional baggage goes, my best advice is to let issues fall away. Definitely leave outside troubles at the altar before arriving. But I know how easy it is to let nerves and the burden of getting an agent/selling a book stress emotions. I remember meeting one lady last year. She seemed so upset, I didn’t know how to engage her. Like a coward, I bailed. Recently, I learned that she didn’t connect with anyone last year and felt hurt about that.
I guess two lessons can be learned from that one, the first for me is to make sure I make the folks I meet feel welcome. The second:
Pack a Smile
This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds when facing fears with publishing experts. But those who are the experts know where we’re coming from and are SO kind and gracious. Those who aren’t experts are right in the boat with us. Last year I, realized just how many new folks come to this conference, knowing no one. No need to be shy or tentative when everyone feels the same way!