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Tip Tuesday #165

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. I have a fantastic tip by freelance author Elizabeth Alton who writes for
Nimlok’s site. As you’ll see from her bio, she’s been published in many well-known publications. So here’s Elizabeth.

Best Practices For Authors at Conventions and Conferences

Nobody likes to tell you that if writing the book was hard, marketing will be three times harder. Yet in reality many authors find that the real work starts with getting the word out about their books. Maybe this is an issue of temperament: after all, writers tend to be solitary creatures that don’t mind working at the computer for hours. But connecting with fans, peers, and industry contacts often requires beating the pavement and making appearances at publishing events. Conventions and conferences are a great way to make the most of one or two days by meeting a bunch of people. Here’s how to network effectively with your publishing career in mind.

Consider speaking on a panel: If you’re attending a convention or conference, speaking on a panel is a great way to get in front of people without all the focus being on you. Usually you’ll join two or three other people to discuss a subject. It could relate to the craft of writing, or even a fan-based topic connected to your work. Conventions are notorious for topics like “The Mechanics of Steampunk Airships” or “How to Write a Convincing Fictional Parent.” Whatever your area of expertise, panels give you a focus to your discussions and make it easy to meet fan and colleagues before and after your talk.

Give a reading: If the idea of speaking off the cuff or doing a prepared talk is stressful, consider doing a reading from your most recent or most popular work. Often, conferences sponsor readings that allow authors to share between a few pages and a chapter. Many readings are followed up with casual Q&As that can be a great way to engage with fans. If someone sat through your reading, they’re likely to be a fan or interested in your topic of choice!

Participate in group signings: Many conferences that are open to fans sponsor a group signing. Authors may be asked to purchase a table or simply be willing to buy back books that don’t sell. Joining group signings is a great way to participate on a number of levels. It’s focused on fans, and you’ll get to meet people interested in your books or genre. It also helps the conference organizers; the more authors that sign at events, the more likely fans are to come. These statistics can be key for attracting big names and hitting profit margins. Support the conferences you take part in by joining signings – you’ll meet fans and other authors along the way.

Take advantage of editor/agent appointments: If you’re attending a conference that’s focused on the business or craft aspect of writing, there’s a good chance that editor or agent appointments are available. These short, one-on-one meetings allow you to chat with and pitch a connection of your choice. If a conference offers them, always take advantage of opportunity to make a valuable contact. Focus on being professional, sticking to the timeframe, and doing your homework to make sure whatever you’re pitching fits within their business interests.

Don’t overlook the bar: At big events, you can find yourself running from panel to panel, waiting in line for signings, and scheduling yourself to the max with editor and agent appointments. It’s important to take advantage of these openings, but a very effective way to meet people is when they’re relaxing. Take time to hit up the cafes or bars around the hotel, and have a drink. Frequently, you’ll have the opportunity to meet big time authors, industry contacts, and simply join in group conversations. It’s a low pressure way to meet people. Remember that people are in the bar are there to socialize and unwind. Don’t try to sell. Instead, focus on being friendly, funny and engaging. Those conversations then give you the perfect opportunity to connect via email or social media after the conference.

Attending conventions and conferences is one of the exciting aspects of an author’s career. If you’re not a big socializer or you just don’t know where to get started, remember that with a bit of planning you can make the most of these events to connect with fans, colleagues, and other valuable publishing connections. What tactics do you use to meet people at conferences? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:  Elizabeth Alton is a freelance business and technology writer for Nimlok’s site.  She covers trends related to small business, entrepreneurs, and the evolving digital landscape. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, USA Today, The Daily Muse, Better Homes and Gardens, and PolicyMic. Connect with Elizabeth on Google+.

16 comments:

  1. This is a great roundup of suggestions to help even the most shy conference-goer. Thanks, Elizabeth!

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  2. These are great suggestions. Thanks Natalie and Elizabeth :)

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  3. Great tips. I especially love the one about not overlooking the bar! Thanks Elizabeth and Natalie.

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  4. I'd have to agree with "Give a Reading" and "Don't Overlook the Bar". Having the chance to read your work is well worth it, because anyone present can hear exactly what you write instead of just hearing the same spiel you give to everyone. And, yeah, you never know who you'll find at the bar!

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  5. Hey, Natalie, how fun to find your Tip Tuesday blog post--I guess losing track of my time while my schedule is upside down has its advantages! Love the tips; they seem spot on.

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  6. Love this post. I much prefer the more casual interaction. I act more naturally and there's less pressure on everyone.

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  7. Interesting tips. Great ways to feed off others!

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  8. Great tips! I've been to a few conferences, and while I'm able to pep talk myself up enough to strike up conversations with the people sitting next to me, I have no ability to make myself approach the speakers. It's ironic that in an industry that attracts so many introverts it's so important to network with people.

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  9. Trying to do the panel thing. It's all good advice, thanks Elizabeth!

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  10. Great advice! The bar at conferences is an often overlooked area that can be a stress free environment to chat with like minded people. Most don't think of that, good one!

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  11. My CP and I are hoping to do a workshop/panel at the RWA nationals next year. It's just coming up with ideas that is tough.

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  12. Fantastic ideas. I'm thinking of submitting a workshop proposal...stil not sure. :)

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  13. Thanks Elizabeth! Not only great advice but the truth delivered in an easy to swallow way - I'm guilty of being that shy, would rather stay in my writing cubby, creature. But I get how important networking is!

    And thank you Natalie for the tip post! :)

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  14. I havent' ever attended a conference. But when I do, I'll be better prepared. Thank you for the useful tips.

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  15. Interesting tips :D Thank you both for sharing. <3 Never been to a conference before.. but hoping to do so one day, as a reader :)

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  16. Love these suggestions! Conferences are great - both for learning and networking, plus they're just plain ole fun.

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