What not to do at a writer’s conference

How-to-dress-up-like-a-nerdAre you going to a writer’s conference?

I recently wrote an article about what to do if you’re going to a writer’s conference. However, there are some things you really shouldn’t do, as well. It always amazes me what some people do. Don’t be one of these people:

  • If you’re an attendee, don’t promote your book in classes, workshops, panel discussions or critique groups. There’s always someone trying to bring the conversation back to his or her self-published manuscript. I sat in one workshop held by a distinguished mystery author, and a fellow classmate handed out flyers for his Civil War drama.
  • Don’t be late to a conference class or workshop. People walking in late, interrupting the class, opening and shutting doors, shuffling to find a seat — it’s rude and distracting. Make every effort to be on time.
  • Give the speaker some space. After the speaker/faculty has finished his presentation, please don’t rush the podium with questions and attention seeking theatrics. Give the speaker some space. It’s okay to thank them for their time, ask for a business card, and possibly buy their book. But don’t try to monopolize their time. You can always email your questions later, and build a professional relationship.
  • Don’t monopolize a class with specific questions about your work-in-progress. A question or two is fine, but there have been classmates who act like this is a one-on-one opportunity to discuss their book, and seem to be under the impression that every other student in class is going to be just as interested in his character motivations and Irish lineage.
  • Don’t try to outshine the instructor. Everyone is in class to learn from and benefit from the instructor’s experience, not yours. An older gentleman in a recent class continually used passages in his Vietnam War thriller as examples of points the author was making. His acting like he was the co-instructor got really irritating and, finally, the author had to cut him off.

Want to read more? Check out:

5 Tips to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference

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One thought on “What not to do at a writer’s conference

  1. I attended the Chicago Writer’s Conference (my first) in October and every single one of these things happened. I had to restrain myself from going up to one offender and saying, “seriously, do you think we want to hear about your project when Sara Paretsky is talking?” Sadly, these folks do not realize how much eye-rolling is going on around them.

    Just found your site – love it!

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