Back in 2016, I made a shift. I decided if I was ever going to become a writer, I needed stop buying “how to” writing books, fancy pens, and themed journals and actually write. I know. Revolutionary idea.
Don’t get me wrong, “writing swag” is great, but at the end of the day, the supplies gave me the illusion of productivity. I needed to write to become a writer.
Now in 2018, with one completed novel under my belt and a net of query letters out to a sea of agents, I decided writing wasn’t enough. I needed to learn more about the craft of writing that books couldn’t teach me.
That’s where the Dallas Fort Worth Writer’s Conference came in.
Now, I thought I was pretty prepared for my first conference. I picked out what classes I wanted to go to, signed up for special discussions, and headed out at 5:30 in the morning to be there by the time the doors opened. But here’s what I wish I knew, that I didn’t see anywhere online.
Writing conferences are less about the classes and more about the connections.
Maybe this isn’t true for all people, but it was extremely true in my case. While the classes were amazing, I realized I was woefully unprepared for the amount of networking I was going to be doing.
How do you make the most out of your networking and socializing experience?
Get a hotel near the conference center. Mine was 30 minutes away, to save money, and I missed out on so many fun get togethers.
If someone’s planning to do a dinner, go eat with a group.
If you find one group, don’t be afraid to go and hang out with other people, but know you might feel left out if your first group you hit it off with goes and does something else.
Order business cards and keep in touch with people after the conference is over. I’ll talk more about this in my “making friends” portion of this conference series I’m doing, but definitely do this.
Reach out to people before the conference. I met some wonderful writers online through facebook and online contests so when I got there, I already knew who to touch base with. In fact, if I hadn’t had so much fun talking to D.L. Hammons I probably would’ve been lost for the first hour.
And lastly, if you can pitch to agents or editors, DO. I was only going to use my free agent pitch but decided to buy two, and I learned more in those 20 minutes about the pitching/agent process than I did reading any book. Both people I pitched to eased me into the situation and asked me to email them my work. Come to find out, one of them was only accepting work through that conference, so trying to pitch to her online would’ve been impossible (or at the very least rude).
These are just a few things I wish I knew about the whole networking deal. I’ll go over what I learned about classes, making friends and the downsides to conferences (there are some, albeit small ones) in other up coming posts, so keep an eye out.