Miss Snark Benefits from a Snarkling

Vacuumed up from the comments on an earlier post was a link to Michelle's blog. You have to click on the writing section at the left, then scroll down to the 8/30 post, but she has some good, valuable and (most important to Miss Snark) humorous comments on writing conferences and benefits thereof.

From her post:

The best thing you can do at a conference, whether you have a novel ready to pitch or not, is network, network, network.

It’s amazing to me how many people can’t seem to do this. I know we’re all writers and more used to living inside our heads, but you’d think we’d be able to manage a simple, ‘Hello how are you? Do you have a card?’.

And do you have a card? Surprisingly few people do.

Business cards are essential to networking. They enable people to contact you after the conference so you can continue to develop a relationship.

Why should you care? Why network with the unpublished masses?

First, because they are your graduating class, your peers. You are rubbing elbows with the authors of tomorrow and who doesn’t need a few published authors in their corner? So be nice to everyone. Hold doors open, offer your seat, offer your assistance whether it’s helping someone with their pitch or sharing your bottle of Motrin, and smile.

Secondly, all the writers I currently exchange crits with I met at conferences and, to date, they have been the best crit partners I have ever worked with.
We’re even looking at putting together our own writers retreat complete with booze and hot tub. When we’re not trying to coordinate our drinking and writing, we exchange information on markets, agents, and publishers.

Miss Snark's comments about writing conferences completely missed the concept of the writers getting to know each other. Miss Snark is self absorbed, it's true, but she recognizes her omissions on occasion. This is one of them.
Thanks Michelle!


kitty said...

Blogging can be another excellent way to network.

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

Completely off topic, dear Miss Snark but I thought you might like to check out this link to an interview with Mr. Clooney.


harridan said...

Conferences are hugely expensive, but can be an absolute gold mine for authors. It totally depends on how open you are to unexpected opportunities.

Granted, I have only attended three actual conferences, an annual event put on by a huge magazine that promotes my genre.

The first time I was scared senseless, but my publisher encouraged my attendance. My first book wasn't going to be out for another six months, yet they thought the exposure would be beneficial. That trip I meant an aspiring author in the bar who just so happened to have pics of a real place in England my next book would be centered around.

On the second trip, I had a great signing. Plus I had the opportunity to spend a little time with some of the people behind the scenes at the mag and the conference. It was awesome, and most are now my dear friends. (On an aside, the same company hosted a benifit for soldiers six months later. I went and donated my services in setting up and sorting, yada yada.)

Third trip, the head reviewer for my sub-genre ended up in the room next door to mine at the hotel. We'd met before, and so as we waited for the horridly slow elevators over and over again, we laughed and joked. No biz talk.

On the day of the signing, she stopped by my table and told me that my pub was sending things in a bit too late for the top reviewers (20 year veterans,) therefore the stuff was filtering down to others. She also said once she was back at her office, she was going to contact the recieving department to let them know that no matter when recieved, certain authors works should go directly to her. MY name was on that list. To say that I needed a stiff drink at that point is an understatement!

So to end my marathon post here-- yes, conferences can be hugely benificial to authors. But dang they are pricey. LOL

nessili said...

What if you're too dang shy to network? The masses of people at conferences freak me out. In a small group situation, I can force myself (with great fear and trembling) to speak with someone I've never met. Though I often come across as a tongue-tied idiot...not the way to impress people. What then? If I just stick with blogging and small writing groups (assuming I work up the courage to talk to people there), do I still have a snowball's chance?

Demented M said...


Do the best you can. Remember most writing cons will have group meals where you'll be seated in small groups. Not all panels will be well attended, you may find yourself part of an audience of 12.

Write your name and genre on your name tag. Make eye contact and smile. People will talk to you and when they do ask for their card so you can keep in touch.

At most cons, the easiest ice breaker is to ask people what genre they write. If you can manage hello and that question you'll be fine.

Beyond that, there are enough people who behave like idiots that you'll pretty much decide you can't do any worse. You might be surprised to find yourself approaching an agent. And if worse comes to worse and you really flub it don't tell the agent your name! :)

Oh,and I usually bring chocolate to pass out in the afternoon. That's also a great way to connect with people.

Miss Snark:

Thanks for the linkage, glad you liked the humor.


harridan said...

And honestly, Nessili, someone at the table you are sitting at will strike up the conversation, or should.

After my first conference (where someone from the internet agreed to take me under her wing) I make it a point to notice those who are terribly uncomfortable and shy. I sweep them in privately if I can, and save seats for them at different functions.

Many people do this, I am not unique. We are all "paying it forward."

One of my closest friends is someone I saw sitting at a table by her lonesome. We talk on IM all the time.

Conferences are scary, but sometimes you just have to expand your world a little bit.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Nessili, keep cultivating friends by blogging if that's how your comfortable at this time. Who knows, you may get to attend a conference with one of them. But like Harridan says, try to move out of your comfort zone. If you want to be a published writer, you're going to be signing books and talking to people. You can't live in a bubble and be a writer. (Unless it's a champagne bubble in one of those really big glasses that fit a couple of people)....I digress....I met several people at the last conference I went to that have become good blog friends!...Give it a try!

nessili said...

Thanks all for the encouragement. I will endeavour to persevere. I will try to be a worthy Snarkling. And I shan't forget the chocolate.