Best Conference Advice: Leave Your Clothes On (Almost) All the Time

With less than three days until the Colorado Gold Conference presented by RMFW, I wanted to drag out and dust off the conference rules. Mind you, these are not ‘rules’ as in those that will land you in the conference clink, but ‘rules’ like those of writing itself--Good guidelines to follow, but every once in a while shattering them can lead to a fun adventure and/or ruining your budding career.

Rule 1 - Have fun.

Sounds easy enough, right? Except for some of us of the shy/introverted variety. We would prefer to hide in our hotel room, and if we don’t have a hotel room, the bathroom will do. Fun can be hard, especially if you’re adding pressure to yourself to perform, which brings me to rule 2.

Rule 2 – Manage your expectations.

When I first started going to conferences I would spend hours memorizing my pitch for that 10 minutes I might spend with an agent/editor. Don’t get me wrong, that 10 minutes can change a small bit of your life, but it isn’t going to change everything. Go in understanding that a conference doesn’t make or break (unless you throw up on the agent/editor) a career. Spend your time more wisely.

Rule 3 – Make friends, after all sharing is caring.

No, I don’t teach grade school on the side. But I know this better than anyone does. It is all about who you know.

But not in that gross way. Who you know means making those connections with people in similar boats. These are the people who will read your manuscript for the 10th time, or come to your third signing when no one else will. These are the people who understand when you talk about how to get blood out of shag carpet.

Meet your peers is the best advice I can give.

Amazingly, even though this is my 8th RMFW conference, I meet new people each time. And even more, I am NOT sick of those I see every year. Which again brings me to my next point.

Rule 3 – Shower. Please. (You know who you are).

Rule 4 – Don’t annoy others.

Please don’t pitch during workshops. I’ve seen it a million times at the agent and editor panels, people summarizing their book during the Q&A. If you have a question about your book specifically, ask in a private moment or better yet make it a general question. For example, if you want to know about where your book ‘fits’, which I know as a newbie I spent way too much time and energy trying to figure it out (and the publisher changed it twice since), ask a general question about the category and keep it under 140 words. We want to know the status of the industry, not about your book. Save it for dinner conversation.

Rule 5 – Learn as much as your brain can take.

Three days is a crazy amount of learning. Remember to pace yourself. If you need a break, you need a break.

Go hide in that bathroom.

I’ll be in the next stall.

 

Do you have any rule you'd like to share? Also, roll call. Who will be at the RMFW Conference?

 

And my last bit of advice is, say hi to me. I love to hear about books. I want to hear about yours. Let's be friends, so I can ask you the best way to dispose of a body.

Check out my new website and get a free eBook. And make sure to friend me on Facebook, so the cops know just who helped me bury that body.

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
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J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. Books include The Junkie Tales, The Body Dwellers, CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope. Sick. Love. SHANK, Froggy Style, The Assassin's Heart, The Fairyland Murders & The Lady in Pink - Deadly Ever After Mysteries.

14 thoughts on “Best Conference Advice: Leave Your Clothes On (Almost) All the Time

  1. I’ll be there, too!

    I like your rules, Julie. I would add one more that might sound at first like party pooper advice but it’s actually very wise (of course, I mean, it’s my advice, right?): Keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. I’ve been to that hospitality room and witnessed writers (and an agent or two) who probably couldn’t remember a thing the next day and probably didn’t make a very good impression on those who stayed sober. Chocolate works better than alcohol anyway….

  2. See you there, Julie! I’ll be working on Rule #1, which starts the very moment I enter the lobby and see fellow RMFW writer friends in happy, chatting clusters! 🙂

  3. Julie I second and third your point about making connections. The first time you go you’ll feel like a wallflower (yes, even someone as gregarious as I am feels insecure the first time), so make it your goal to have book conversations–whether it’s writing of reading–with several people. The next time you go to a conference you will probably see at least a couple of these people. Then build on it. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering were the time went as you meet and greet old friends.

  4. Can’t wait! I just checked into the Westin (overexcited much….maybe, but it gives me time to take that shower) and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in a couple of days!

  5. Love the image of the Word Count. He’s clearly a member of a hereditary publishing aristocracy, born with a huge head start in the number of words written. And, of course, his dear mama knows the best reviewers personally. He’s never drunken, though, just a bit overly enthused. Really. Just ask him.

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