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canstockphoto6504670It’s open season on authors, which means that writer’s conferences and critique groups are on the calendar.

I’m attending the Florida Heritage Book Fair and Writer’s Conference this week, and looking forward to it. This is my second year to attend, which gives me an advantage. I know what to expect and how to prepare. Last year, I just showed up and, well, listened. This year though, it’s game on.

So here’s what I suggest doing to prepare for a writer’s conference:

  1. Bring a tote bag with a new notepad and pencils (or to carry your tablet)

Plan on taking notes, lot’s of notes. You’re also going to be collecting a lot of handouts and sometimes there are even door prizes. You’ll probably buy a few books. So plan accordingly. And even if you use a tablet (like me) it’s still a good idea to have a few pens, pencils and notebook on hand. You’re going to be looking for pen and paper at some point. Trust me.

  1. Plan to network

To me, that means two things: First, bring a stash of simple business cards with your name, contact info and name and genre of the books you’re writing. Include your social media, website and blog info, if you’ve got it. Second, have a note pad and pen in your tote bag for people to write down their contact information for you.  You’ll be meeting new people from around the state, if not the country, and making new friends. Make exchanging contact info as easy as possible.

  1. Be prepared to purchase some books

That means budget. Almost every speaker will have at least one book available to buy, not to mention books written by your fellow attendees. And, like the FHW, there will be a book fair with even more book buying opportunities. You’ll want to own a few of them. Personally, I like to have some cash on hand.

  1. Dress like a Professional Writer

This isn’t a trip to a Home Depot Saturday morning workshop. You’re meeting writing professionals in a professional setting. There will be authors, publishers, and agents there. You need to represent.  Business casual is generally the most appropriate attire, and leave the torn jeans, flip-flops and t-shirts at home.

  1. Wear your name tag 

Honestly, I lost mine on the first day during last year’s conference and it made me a little unapproachable. Everyone attending will be meeting a lot of new faces. It helps your fellow attendees (especially if you’ve already been introduced) to recall your name. So, plan on wearing your name tag every day, all day. As an author, your name is your brand.  You want people to see it and see it often. Registration may require it as well.

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