How To Get Noticed At A Writing Conference

It’s a new year, full of delicious conferences to help your writing and publishing career. You have pitches to make, loglines to memorize, schmoozes to dominate, and workshops to hijack. We here in BeckyLand are old pros at writing conferences so here are the ten things you must do, assuming you want to get noticed.

• When you check in at the hotel, holler at the front-desk person, “Don’t you know who I am?? I’m a writer! That’s right. A WRITER. And I must have Egyptian sheets with silk pillowcases, several bowls filled with green M&Ms arranged by a feng shui master, fourteen lightly sharpened pencils, and the home phone number of your supervisor … (pause for effect here and lower your voice)… just in case.” Then grab your room key and motion for someone to follow with your suitcase. (Don’t worry. They will. You’re a writer, for pete’s sake!)

• At the conference registration table, push to the front of the line, reminding people you are a WRITER.

• Go through each page of your registration packet while the line backs up behind you. Ask for clarification of each point. After all, you never know if you’ll see any of the conference staff the rest of the weekend. If anyone asks you to move along, remind them that you are a writer then glare at them until they roll their eyes in deference.

• If there are freebies on the registration table, take them all. Duh. You’re a writer! You deserve extra stuff!

• Do your best to reschedule every pitch appointment you were assigned. Even if you don’t need to. Conference schedulers need to be reminded at every opportunity that you—the writer—are in charge. Everything they do, they do for you. The writer.

• Remember that during workshops when agents and editors request any questions be of a general nature, they’re not talking about your question. As a writer, you need to ask them what they think of your manuscript/plot/premise. Even if the workshop is about writing dialogue.

• During every break, squat to peer under each restroom stall. If you see shoes attached to the feet of an agent or editor, bang on their door and start your pitch, handing your entire manuscript to them under the door. They like this because they’re excellent multi-taskers. You need to show them that you are too by your mad stalking, banging, and pitching skillz.

• If you’re not a good multi-tasker, all is not lost. Simply gather up all the toilet paper in the restroom and barter some for an offer to send your complete manuscript to them. Obviously you can ignore any loser in there who isn’t an editor or agent. They can’t help you in any way, anyway.

• At mealtimes dominate all conversation with anyone at your table who can help your career. Feel free to grab centerpieces from nearby tables to design a lovely fortress around you and your new soulmate. Despite what others might tell you, that’s not at all creepy. They’ll describe your undivided attention as “endearing.”

• When relaxing in the bar after your busy day of being a writer, you deserve a strong drink. Several, in fact. There’s nothing more adorable than writers who slur their way through “You Light Up My Life”—twice—on the karaoke machine, freely confess a lifetime of transgressions to all their new BFFs, and vomit in the ficus tree in the corner.

And that’s all there is to it! Good luck!

Award-winning author Becky Clark is seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them too. She writes the Mystery Writer’s Mysteries, the Sugar Mill Marketplace Mysteries, the Crossword Puzzle Mysteries, and “Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel—Write Faster, Write Better, Be More Organized.”

12 thoughts on “How To Get Noticed At A Writing Conference”

  1. I <3 you, woman. I predict seeing ALL of these at some point in the near future. While we're sitting in the bar drinking, probably 🙂

  2. William M. Brock

    If you are not a published author- in novel form- go ahead and sign up for any free readings. It is bad enough to work in isolation. If you belong to a crique group, good for you- you have just doubled your chance of publication. But it’s such a boost when your one page at a workshop can blow people away– strangers at that.
    If it doesn’t blow people away, you’ve learned something, too.
    (This is from a guy who has published about 100,000 words in the small press, and gotten paid for every word. In other words, an unpublished writer.)

  3. You forgot to mention food fight etiquette.
    I can’t remember, who launches the desserts first, poets or nature writers?
    I always get those mixed up…

  4. I’m gonna say neither … poets are a timid lot and nature writers wouldn’t want the bad karma of all that waste.

    I’ve heard of children’s writers lobbing dinner rolls and flicking spoons of mashed potatoes, but I can’t even imagine such a thing. Oh wait. There was that time at the monastery but I swear that priest started it!

    1. That is absolutely genius, Shannon, and I wish I’d thought of it. But now it’s out there AND I’ll have control of the microphone, it’s fairly certain to happen. I hope they all bring their checkbooks!

    1. I think I adapted that idea from one of my kids who, as a nightowl in direct conflict with my early-bird perkiness, would create a fort of cereal boxes around himself, effectively shutting out my verbal barrage and sunny disposition before school. I think now he might simply say, “Mom. I can’t even.”

  5. I was so glad I wasn’t drinking anything while reading this … especially a fizzy beverage. Carbonation is so hard on the nose. Madam, You. Are. Hilarious. 😀

    1. Ow. Nasal carbonation. I had a visceral reaction to that, and so early on a Saturday morning. But better a pretend owie for me than a real one for you. Be careful out there. And thanks for laughing!)

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