One of the blogs I like to keep up with is J.A. Konrath’s. Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels thriller novels.
If you’re an author and going to a conference, his post today is a good one to read. The post is called “Conference Tips.”
Konrath is a straight shooter. He’ll tell you the truth like, “Don’t expect anyone to attend your panel to see you.” He gives tips for being on a panel like, “No eating, chewing gum, picking your fingernails, drinking anything other than bottled water.” Want to know what to do when other panelists hog the floor, or when the panel moderator sucks? He’s got advice.
If you’re a fairly new author and will be attending conferences, speaking on panels, or visiting the booksellers, read his blog. In fact, print it out and save it.
If you’re an author who is very new and attending a conference, but not as a speaker, his advice is still good to know. If this is the case, I would add a few tips:
1. Talk to other authors in groups you belong to like Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America. Find out who is attending the conference you’re signed up for. See if someone will mentor you. They’ll help you maneuver the ins and outs, introduce you to people, maybe even take you along to the behind-the-scenes happenings.
2. When you attend panels, don’t rush out afterwards. Go up and talk to the authors, even if you can’t afford to buy their books (although that would be nice). Say hello, introduce yourself, let them know you appreciated what they said.
3. Meet as many people as you can. You don’t want to be trying to sell your book constantly; that gets to be annoying. But you do want to meet people – readers, authors, fans, booksellers.
4. Be sure you visit the booksellers. Small conferences may have only one bookseller. Large ones have dozens. Talk to them. Leave business cards. If you find they have your book for sale, thank them. If they don’t, let them know you’re coming to their area. Maybe you could set up a signing or a drop by. Maybe not, but at least you’ve made contact. What a great opportunity you have – dozens of booksellers in one place.
5. Make sure you meet the people who put on the conference. You’re not likely to get invited to speak at the next one if the staff has no idea you exist. There’s even a chance if a panelist can’t make it, you might be called as a stand-in.
6. Have fun. If you’re having a good time, most likely those you meet will have an enjoyable time and will remember you. Relax. Even if you stumble over words or spill a drink on an editor, life goes on.
Remember that last one. Don’t sweat, and, if you do, keep a discreet hankie near by. Relax. Enjoy yourself.
5 months ago