Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I have a writing conference coming up in a few weeks, and I have NO idea what to do to get ready for it.

So, I'm asking you guys for advice.

1. What the heck do I wear?

2. Do I carry my laptop around? Or just a notebook?

3. How do I talk to real authors without passing out?

4. Can I take books from home to get signed by my favorite authors? (They do have a book signing during the conference...)

5. Do you have name tags?

6. Will I know where the heck I'm supposed to go?

7. Will people like me?

Yeah ... pretty sure I'm freaking out a little...

Don't get me wrong, I'm SO excited, I just have a hard time not knowing what it's going to be like.

Oh, and it's the first time ever that I'll be leaving my kids with just my hubby overnight. Mixed emotions about that! :) He'll be fine, I'm just not sure if I'll be fine!

How did you do at your first conference?


Unknown said...

Ha! Love your questions, but sadly I've never been to one either an can't answer any of them except #7. If you be yourself, the people you want to like you will like you.

Good luck!


Suey said...

You are going to have a blast! And while I'm not a writing conference expert AT ALL, I bet I can answer a couple of the questions.

Yes, you'll have a name tag.
Yes, you can bring books from home.
Yes, you'll know where to go!
Yes, everyone will LOVE you!
Wear what's comfortable.
Think of the authors as normal people who are your friends... because they are, right?
And I have no idea about the laptop vs. notebook. You'll see both!

Candice said...

I would say dress nice casual and just carry a notebook. Have fun! That's the main thing and don't be afraid to meet new people and make new friends. :)

Liz Fichera said...

Deep breaths. You will have a blast. Dress comfortably, be yourself, don't worry about logistics. You'll arrive and be given a packet of stuff that will explain everything. Regarding being nervous around authors, they will be just as nervous and excited as you are.

Also, make sure you find out where the bar is. It's the after-hours stuff that's always the most fun. :-) Enjoy!!

Jeigh said...

Oh, man, that conference is the weekend I'm moving back to Idaho! I'll just miss it. I haven't been to any conferences yet, but I really want to. Let us know what you learn, okay? Especially what to wear and what to say to real live authors.

I left my kids with my husband for an extended weekend 2 years ago and everyone did great, even the baby. Have fun and enjoy the lack of monkeys on your back :)

erica and christy said...

We went to one two weeks ago, but I admit, it was easier going together! Here's our answers:
1. career-wear and comfy, but nice shoes (there were some jeans and some dresses, but most were in slacks and a sweater/blouse type outfit)

2. We carried laptops but rarely turned them on and really didn't need them. There were mostly iPads out. The conference people gave us bags with pens and paper along with the agenda and whatever materials the authors/agents/editors gave them to hand out.

3. Breathe. :)

4. Sorry, we didn't run into this. My guess is if you throw them in a bag, you can watch others and decide if you want to take them out or buy one there at the last minute instead.

5. They gave us name tags with either a lanyard or a clip. Of course I (and half of the others) forgot mine in the hotel room the 2nd day.

6. No one knows where they're going. Follow the biggest crowd and you'll get there!

7. Yes. We talked so much, they asked us to come back and sit on a panel next year. So keep that in mind. :)

It was Christy's first time leaving her kids, too. It was good for them - lots of lego building and game playing and boy wrestling. And she had 3 days to herself (well, with me)! You'll make it and so will they!

Unknown said...

1. What the heck do I wear?--Business casual (jeans and a nice shirt)--might want to step it up a notch if you're pitching to an agent.

2. Do I carry my laptop around? Or just a notebook? I have a whole rolling bag I haul around with my laptop, books, notebook, etc. Most just have a notebook. Those people seem to have less trouble navigating the crowds, but I can't possibly leave anything behind!

3. How do I talk to real authors without passing out? Remember that they're nice and they enjoy talking to people who enjoy their books. They're real, and they remember what it is like to be you. If all else fails, hang out with me--I have no fear. :)

4. Can I take books from home to get signed by my favorite authors? (They do have a book signing during the conference...) Yes! I approached several authors with their books and a pen last year and they were all gracious about it. Just don't stop them if they look like they're rushing somewhere.

5. Do you have name tags? Yes! And, BTW, the name tags are the BEST place to carry your business cards, which, of course, you'll want--even if it's just your name and your email: you'll be making friends and you don't want to have to write that out a hundred times.

6. Will I know where the heck I'm supposed to go? Yes--they'll provide a conference schedule and a map. Take highlighters so you can find your first-choice class more easily.

7. Will people like me? ABSOLUTELY! Most everyone at the conference will be like you--new writers who want to meet other writers and who want to be liked themselves. We're all there to network (oh, and learn stuff), so it behooves everyone to like everyone else. Just don't act like you're better (which might be hard when you're so COOL), and you'll meet tons of kindred spirits.

Look me up while you're there!

Michelle Merrill said...

I haven't ever been to one. I'm interested to see all the answers though! Have tons of fun and learn a lot so you can share it with me :)

Oh, and your hubby and kids will be fine. You might miss them a tiny bit but one night won't be too bad. My first time was a whole week (girl's camp).

Good luck! I'm completely jealous but so excited for you.

Sierra Gardner said...

I don't know all the answers but here's what I do know. Ask questions if you are lost or want to know where to go - people are nice and will help out. You are likable so people will definitely like you. If they have a book signing then it is probably okay to bring a few books. That's all I got but hopefully it helps. When I'm in situations like this I just have to find something that will calm me down. A funny story, a note from family, a picture. Something to help me stay grounded. GOOD LUCK!

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Someday, I will be in the same shoes, heading to my first conference. I wish I could give you some good advice, but the only thing I can say is that people will love you. How could they not?

Ruth Josse said...

I went to my first conference last year and it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. It awesome and inspirational! Have a great time and enjoy your mommy break:)

Cherie Reich said...

Yay! Have fun at your conference. I think people have covered most things. Do dress nice but casual. You can just bring a notebook, although some conferences supply them. You should try to get some business cards, so you can exchange information with people you meet. And remember, authors are people like us. They all started out unpublished and worked hard to be where they are at. :)

Jordan McCollum said...

BRING THE LAPTOP. You will get more than twice as much of the information down with a laptop than with a notebook & pen. (Though you will have to look for plugs or pack an extra battery.)

They've always given us a tote bag at this conference, and I've always been able to stick my laptop in the bag one way or another.

Remember to print off at least the parts of the syllabus you'll want!

Stacy Henrie said...

I was pretty nervous about my first conference, but I tried to be friendly, though I'm shy. I ended up sitting next to a woman who has become a dear friend and who I look forward to seeing each year at the same conference.

Dress nice casual, bring your notebook, and wear a smile. You're among friends! :)

Angela Scott said...

I had a huge response for you, but the internet ate it :(

So you get this instead.

Go have fun. You will learn so much and meet so many people. Just open yourself up and reach out to others and you will be surprised at how many people reach back.

Let me know how it goes.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

You're so cute. First and foremost: just be yourself. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. You'd be surprised the levels of casual dress you'd see there. ;) If you KNOW you're going to use your lappie, take it. Or it will be a huge nuisance. Leave it in your room for your editing. ;)

I wish you the best, I wish I was going...


Chantele Sedgwick said...

@E.J. Wesley Thanks E.J.! :D
@SueyThanks Suey! You sound like a pro!
@Candice Hopefully I can make some new friends. If I'm not too much of a dork! :)
@Liz Fichera Ooohh! Packets of stuff? Awesome! Thanks for the advice! :)
@Jeigh I'll definitely let you know how it goes!! :D
@erica and christy Wow! So much great advice! Thank you so much! :D
@Robin Weeks Thank you so much for the great advice! I'll be sure to look you up! I'll just watch for the girl with the rolling bag! :) I may have to get one as well...
@Michelle Merrill I wish you could come! We could rock that conference together! LOL I'm supposed to go to girls camp this summer. We'll see...
@Sierra Gardner Thanks so much! I hope I'm not a huge dork and everyone steers clear of me! LOL
@Kayeleen Hamblin Ha ha! I'm a lot cooler online than in person! :) At least I think so!
@Ruth I'm so looking forward to the mommy break. Haven't ever had one. It will be weird, but nice!
@Cherie Reich Thanks for the business card idea. I'm going to have my hubby help me make some!
@Jordan McCollum Laptop. Check. :) Cool! A tote bag! I love cute free stuff! :) Even though I probably paid for it...
@Stacy Henrie I am very shy as well Stacy! I'm hoping I'll be able to make some real life friends. I feel like a little kid going to Kindergarten all over again! LOL
@Angela Scott I hate it when the internet eats my reply's! Annoying! I'll definitely take that advice. I love making new friends. :)
@Elizabeth Mueller Cute! I love the word lappie. :) I wish you were going too! :( Thanks so much for the advice!

Unknown said...

I have NO DOUBT people will like you. Other than that, I'm clueless though. I've never been to a conference.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Yeah, so you've gotten most of the answers you need, although I brought my laptop the first year and decided that last year I found it inconvenient so I left it in my room. It works for me because I'm a really good note taker. You'll see people with them though, so if it works for you, BRING IT.

And business casual. Absolutely correct.

And yes, people will like you.

And you go the answers to everything else, too. See you in a couple of weeks. You're going to LOVE it. You'll find yourself at some point looking around and thinking, "THESE are my people."

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Nisa Thanks Nisa! :)
@Melanie Jacobson Thanks Melanie! I'm excited for your class! I'm definitely coming to it! :)