Writing Conferences: Overall Tips

Now that you’ve hear all of the wonderful, wonderful pitching tips Maddy had, I’m wrapping up this series with some overall tips!

Check out part 1, Logistics of Pitching, here
and part 2, Writing Your Pitch, here
and part 3, Pitch Templates, here
and part 4, Pitch Practice, here
and part 5, Pitching!, here.


My biggest overall tip: Talk to everyone.

  • If you’re waiting in line, sitting at a table, perusing the same booth, etc, introduce yourself to the person next to you. You automatically have common ground with this person—you both love books. Ask them what they do, what category and genre are their favorites. I have made so many wonderful connections at conferences (including one of my closest friends!), and they all started with a simple hello. Writing can be a solitary business, and conferences are a wonderful way to meet someone (as is Twitter, but in person is even better!).
  • Also, if you’re already active on social media, let people know you’ll be at an upcoming conference. It’s a great way to meet e-friends in person!

Other tips for conferences:

  • Wear comfortable shoes (I went with formal black sneakers I used to wear to work).
  • Bring business cards: something simple and inexpensive that covers the necessities—your name, website (if applicable), email, Twitter.
    • Don’t hand these to agents or editors (unless they ask, which would most likely be to connect as friends, not a potential business relationship).
    • I used these to connect with other writers, librarians, teachers, and agents as friends.
    • If you can’t afford these or can’t get cards made in time, a quick and easy way to keep in touch with someone is to follow them on Twitter before you part ways.
    • I printed up 200 business cards at Staples for $9.99, and they were ready in 2 days.

business card 2.jpg

  • Wear layers so you’re prepared no matter the weather and no matter how much heat/air conditioning is on in the room.
  • For a conference like BEA, I liked keeping these fold-up bags in my purse to hold the books I got (but there are also plenty of free totes around these conferences).
  • Bring a water bottle.
  • Bring a notebook (or make sure you have sufficient battery to take notes on your phone).

David Arnold’s advice: don’t have your head buried in a notebook, taking notes—just listen and try to absorb everything.

Like everything else (including pitching), practice makes perfect. There was a lot I wished I had known before BEA (like how to research what books I wanted and how to get them—each publisher had different procedures for how to nab ARCs, especially for the in-demand books), but sometimes it’s hard to know everything before you go in. I know my next time around will be smoother (I’ll know what books to grab, which panels to attend, etc). So don’t beat yourself up for mistakes—everyone makes them and it’s how we learn! But hopefully with these posts, you will be more prepared and the mistakes will be minimized. Read my post about BEA + BookCon 2016 here.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this series was helpful! As always, I’m open to requests for blog topics! Thank you, LR, for requesting this one!


Other Resources for conferences and live-pitching:

Novel Pitch is a wonderful resource to hear first accounts of pitching sessions. Check out the testimonials here.

Writer’s Digest

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