I’ve just booked my flights for the Romance Writers of Australia national conference in Melbourne in August. I adore the conference as it’s three or four days of living, breathing and talking romance and writing with like-minded people. It’s such a supportive environment and I always come away with new friends, new inspiration and a refreshed enthusiasm for all things writing.
It’s also the one time of year I get to catch up with all my online friends, those friends who I might see daily on Twitter or Facebook but don’t actually talk to until events like the conference.
This year will mark my fourth conference. On the weekend I met a writer who is going to conference for the first time and wasn’t sure what to expect, so I thought I’d give a little insight and my top tips.
The conference can be full on in terms of the amount of things happening. You can be on the go from the time you wake up until midnight if you want to be. Make sure you do what’s right for you. You don’t have to go to every workshop or session if you don’t want to.
So here are my top tips for any newbies attending conference.
- If there’s a newbie welcome (which there often is) go and meet up with others like you who are attending their first conference. You may find a bff in the group and even if you don’t, you’ll at least have a couple of familiar faces to look out for.
- Bring your own breakfast. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just those mini cereal boxes is enough. The hotel can send up a bowl and spoon and you can grab milk from a nearby deli. Bringing your own breakfast means you don’t have to pay the exorbitant hotel prices and you have precious extra time to chill out before the day starts (rather than having to find somewhere else to have breakfast).
- If you’re pitching, make sure you prepare in advance and practice, but don’t stress about it. The editors and agents are people too and I’ve had some of them confess to me that they’re just as nervous about the process as you are.
- Bring business cards. You can get them printed cheaply (and good quality) from Vistaprint and all you need is your name, email address and website (if you have one) on it. I also include my facebook and twitter names on mine, but that’s about it. It’s so useful to just hand them out if you meet people you want to keep in touch with, rather than having to find a pen and paper to write down everyone’s details.
- The most important thing is to relax. Everyone there loves writing and are keen to talk to about it. Introduce yourself to the person you sit next to in a workshop and start up a conversation. It’s amazing the lovely people you’ll meet!
If you’re attending this year’s conference, come up and say hi to me and if anyone has extra tips to add, leave them in the comments below.