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7 Crucial Items to Bring to Conference

Hello everyone! Today I am packing for the Moonlight & Magnolia Romance Writers conference in Atlanta this weekend (http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mm-conference/). Georgia Romance Writers puts on a fabulous three-day conference, which brings in a couple hundred romance writers, editors and agents, as well as readers for their grand book signing. I love this conference, because it is big enough for great networking opportunities but also small enough to bring a type of intimacy to it, so I don’t feel incredibly overwhelmed (like I do at the national conference). This year I’m especially excited because my YA paranormal romance, BROKEN, is up for a Published Maggie Award – Yay!

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finalist-ya-pubSo…packing. For three days away, it’s amazing how many things I need to remember to bring. But bringing the right items to conference is important and requires thought. After all, you’ve paid good money to go and sacrificed writing and family time. So you need to make the most of the experience.

I’ve created a list of the top seven crucial items to bring with you to any writing conference:

1. Goals – What do you want to get out of the conference? Do you want to attend five workshops or meet five new writers or give your pitch to an editor without passing out? Are you going to learn about the business or the craft? Are you going to meet up with writing buddies to strategize how to help each other promote? There are numerous possible goals, but the important part is to know them ahead of time and aim to achieve them. You don’t want to be flying home on Sunday wondering what it was you actually did over the last couple days.

2. Swag/business cards – I’m packing pens and notepads to put out in the Goody Room. I will take bookmarks and business cards to hand out at meals around the table. Of course it all has to fit in my suitcase and stay under 50 pounds. Yikes! Some people ship items to the hotel ahead of time but allow plenty of time for them to arrive.

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Box of swag!

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Clicking my Ruby shoes for good luck!

3. Clothes – It’s better not to go naked : ) Okay, conference clothes can be a whole blog post in itself. But remember to bring a sweater or jacket as hotels are usually freezing (summer and winter). Most conferences require a lot of walking, so remember to bring at least one comfortable pair of shoes to wear if your feet start screaming on the first day. I have a killer pair of Ruby red heels that I’ll be wearing Saturday night, so I’m bringing fold-able ballet flats in my purse for the dancing after the ceremony.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a cocktail dress or formal wear for the Saturday night dinner/awards ceremony, if there will be one. Some conferences and reader events hold special costume parties (historical dresses, steam punk, vampire wear). You’ll want to pack something appropriate if you plan to attend any of them.

4. Pitches – If you’ll be pitching a project or yourself to an editor or agent, remember to bring your cards or plan for doing so. Advanced preparation is key. You don’t want to completely wing it in a pitch because the time is very limited. I usually put my pitches together on the plane ride there, so I make sure to have index cards and a pen in my bag to do so.

5. Travel/contact info – Keep copies of travel itineraries and phone numbers for the shuttle company with you. You don’t want to get stranded and have to track down numbers from scratch. Also, if you are meeting up with friends, make sure to have their cell numbers.

6. Medicine – At conferences we can get nervous or eat things we are not accustomed to eating. It’s a good idea to take, along with all prescription meds, some pain reliever and tummy medicine. Having to spend the whole day in your room because of a headache is not going to help you reach your goals.

7. Smile – I’m an introvert, so conferences, with all those people, are not in my comfort zone. But they can be fun and are important for networking and learning tons. So I need to put on my conference, extrovert face. Internally I talk myself up and plaster on a smile, keeping my eyes and ears open. As hard as it is to start, once I say “hi” and begin meeting interesting people, my smile becomes natural. Always remember to be polite and as friendly as possible. Observers may not necessarily remember your book titles or genre, but they will surely remember your tantrum over a hair in your food.img_1835

This is obviously not an extensive list. Others might include snacks, flash cards of industry names, lap top, lucky underwear, notebook, cash, etc. Make a list for yourself, but be sure to include the seven crucial conference items above.

Okay, you experienced conference goers, what did I miss?

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