How to Prep for a Writing Conference (Part 1)

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I am just about to get on a plane and head off to the CYA (Children's and Young Adult) writers and illustrators conference in Brisbane. I've attended many writing workshops, courses, presentations and events over the last few years, but this will be my first major writing conference.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an organised person, so it will come as no surprise to friends and family that I have literally been preparing for this conference for months.

I have no idea if I've underprepared (unlikely), over-prepared (quite likely) or prepared for the wrong things (only time will tell), but I thought I would share some of my preparations for CYA 2017, and next week I'll let you know exactly how helpful these preparations were.

So, let's start with the easy stuff. I'll call it...

Seems Obvious Preparations

These are the simple things we all likely think of. You know, the obvious stuff! Like:

  • Bring pens
  • Bring more pens
  • Bring a notebook/paper
  • Don't forget the program and event location details
  • Get business cards and don't forget to pack enough
  • Bring a bottle of water.
Picture of water bottles

It's likely safe to say most attendees are going to think of this stuff, so let's move onto...

What Others Advise Preparations

Because I have an organising problem (I am very aware of this fact), I did a lot of research online to prepare for this conference. So here's some of the advice I gleaned from other people's experiences at conferences:

  • Prepare (and practice) an elevator pitch for all your manuscripts (a quick sentence that sums up the whole story revealing character, plot and spark).
  • Know who you are as a writer/illustrator and prepare a one-liner so you're ready when someone inevitably asks, "so what do you write/illustrate?"
  • Bring an extra bag stowed away in your handbag in case you leave with more than you arrived with (because you just know you're going to buy books).

And because I just can't help myself, here is...

My Extra Preparations

(I really don't know how to stop!)

  • Give serious thought to all the sessions you are attending and have questions prepared before the conference
  • Research ALL the speakers and have questions ready in case you have an opportunity to speak with them at some time during the day
  • Give yourself a serious pep talk about being brave, putting yourself out there, introducing yourself to strangers and giving out those business cards
  • Come up with a list of questions people/authors/publishers/agents might ask you and prepare (and practice) your answers in advance.
Picture of notebook, pencil and map

Have I gone overboard? Am I completely bananas?

I'll tell you next week!