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Get the Most From a Writers' Conference
Having the Right Tools
If you are going to a writers' conference, make sure you have everything you need. Pick up a couple notebooks so you have plenty of paper. You will end up loaning paper to someone who forgot. It never hurts to have extra. You will be taking lots of notes. If you are lucky you might even be doing some writing. Paper is the number on item to have at a writers' conference.
Pens, Pencils, Highlighters
This is the number two thing you need for a writers conference. Again take extras. You never know when a pen will run out of ink or a lead will break. Not all facilities supply you with paper and pens. Be prepared again you might have to help out someone else.
Highlighters allow you to go back and find the keynotes in what you write down. They also work to break up the monotony of blue or black ink. If your speaker is boring, you can use them to doodle. Never underestimate the power of a highlighter.
Who Are You?
Sometimes your name tag is what gets you into special events or even meals. Don't lose it. If you do, get another one immediately.
Put the name you want people to call you on the name tag. While my given name is Rebecka, I prefer to go by Becky. That's the name I put on my name tag. If they are going to be pre-printed I give them my given name and (Becky) so they will put both.
Name tags help you if you are not good at remembering names. They also serve as an ice breaker. I think I saw you in my last session, you asked some great questions, Becky. There you go.
Keeping in Touch
Get some business cards. Even if you haven't written your novel yet. Vistaprint will give you 250 free. I believe you just pay shipping. They have tons of templates you can use. If you have a publisher program, print them off your computer. The bonus is you can design your own.
Share your business cards with others. Collect business cards of people you've met and built a rapport with. These will come in handy when you finally get your novel finished. Not only can you send them a postcard with your book cover on it, you might find they can help you with editing, publishing, agents and anything else related to the field. Use them to do a follow-up after the conference.
I met a person at a conference and we've kept in touch for several years. I'll be attending a conference in Cleveland this year and suggested that maybe we should meet for coffee one day. Excellent. We will be meeting for coffee and to catch up.
Lastly, if you are at a conference take your camera. You never know who you might get a photo op with. I have one with Kelsey Timmerman author of Where Am I Wearing? as well as Jane Friedman who was with Writer's Digest Magazine and is now at Virginia Tech I think. But I know if I have a question that I can ship her an e-mail and I will get an answer.
Be prepared. Go to learn. Have a great time.