Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Survive a Writer's Conference

Having just made it through a three day writer’s conference, I thought I’d scribble down a few thoughts on how to survive one of these things. This particular convention is one of my favorites. It involves not just the science fiction and fantasy crowd but other genres as well. You also get to exchange ideas with mystery writers and those mad erotic romance types.

First of all, try and arrive refreshed. You will need your strength. The con started at noon on Friday. I drove the 1307 kilometers (785 miles) by myself so I broke the drive up into two days. The last day I did only 279 kms (168 miles) so I arrived before lunch.

For some ridiculous reason I allowed myself to be talked into being on seven panels. Convention panels are good for getting yourself noticed, especially if you are promoting a book or two. You also get to be in the company of those writers who are far more famous than you may ever be. I was fortunate at this con in that my publisher had tables with copies of all my books set up in the merchant’s room so that I didn’t have to do double duty. It’s not fun trying to change hats and go from panel expert to book seller.

I like to prepare for a panel in advance, no matter how well I know the subject. Usually this just involves a single page of notes and hints so I don’t forget a point I want to raise. I’m teaching a workshop at a writer’s retreat in October and that topic matched one of the panels. Good practice for the Q & A at the retreat.

At this conference we introduced the paper version of the second effort in a trilogy I wrote. Don’t be too obvious, but panels are an excellent opportunity to promote your work and where it is available for purchase. You can work in how you write and use your story as examples when talking about the panel subject. For example, one panel was on where ideas came from and how the story then develops. I used three different samples of my work and know that at least one book was sold as a result of the description I gave of a tale.

The downside of being on so many panels is I didn’t get a chance to sit in on anyone else’s session until the last afternoon on Sunday. Maybe next year I will limit myself to four and take it easy on the tired brain.

Speaking of which, go easy on the parties. There were fewer of the late night events this year (due to problems with the hotel…but next year we are at a new hotel). Usually sponsored by a publisher, or a writer’s group, they can be good for meeting and talking with your peers. Just remember, the next day you are still expected to make reasonably intelligent comments.

You meet interesting people at a convention, and get a chance to generate new ideas and recharge the write’s brain. If nothing else, you will find out you are not the only one who loves to pound out words on a keyboard.

Keep on writing!


The Dark Lady - February 2012
Dark Days - March 2014
Dark Knights – August 2014


Big Mike said...

Hey, where are the photos (g)?

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

All good advice.

January Bain said...

Well said!

Liz Fountain said...

Seven panels? That's a little nuts! :-) I love these big gatherings, and I'm glad I have time to rest in between.