Writing Conference Preparation

Tomorrow's the big day. The first day of the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference. Thankfully, I'm home today, and have a little time to get everything ready. I thought it might be a good idea to record what I do, so I won't forget something next time. And, it might give readers some additional thoughts on being ready for a conference.

Clothing. I live close enough to the conference so I can commute back and forth every day. If I were flying in, of course I'd have to pack ahead of time. But even though I don't have to do that, I'll at least decide what I'm wearing so I won't have to stress over what's ironed or not early in the morning. The biggest things will be comfortable shoes and layered clothing. Hotel conference rooms can range from icy to steamy, and it helps to be prepared.

Most conferences promote attendees wearing "business casual" attire. For the day I pitch to agent Kristin Nelson (Saturday morning), I'll go more for a business outfit. Thursday evening, after I pick up Amanda Luedecke and Leis Pederson at the airport, I'll take them to dinner, but I'll just stick with what I wore to the Donald Maass workshop all day.

Stuff. What I'll leave home: my laptop (it's heavy to lug around, and most conference rooms don't have easily accessible outlets--or they're already in use), and my manuscript (agents an editors do not want a hard copy, and it identifies you as a novice).

What I'll bring: business cards (always stick a few in the pocket of your nametag for easy access), copies of my manuscript's first page (for a workshop), and a master list of where I'm going when. I'm volunteering in a lot of different capacities, so I need to know where to be. I'll also bring printed workshop handouts. The PPW sends them electronically ahead of time to save paper.

Homefront. With a competent husband and four kids aged 15-20, my family will survive without me for the four days of the conference (and my oldest daughter will be there with me). But to help them out, I've planned out some easy meals for them to tackle while I'm gone.

I'll also get my blog post for Friday scheduled, so I'll have one less thing to tackle. And I'll try to spend some time today practicing my pitch so it will roll off my tongue even if I'm nervous.

Volunteer. If you want to get to know people better and support a great cause, offer your services to the conference you plan to attend. No matter if you're a computer geek or a social butterfly, there's a way for you to use your talents.
~I'll be helping in the following areas:
~driving agents, editors, and authors to and from the airport
~decorating tables for the different meals
~setting up the bookstore
~monitoring the "Green Room", where speakers can take a break
~breaking down and cleaning up when everything is done
Sometime soon I'll do a post listing even more ways to help out at a writing conference.

What are some ways you prepare for a conference? I'll have more on this in Friday's post.


  1. I look forward to the day when conferences don't mean special childcare arrangments. But it's worth it and they'll survive. After all, they got the bug last week and shared it with me so they'd be feeling better and I could go to the conference with a sore throat and stuffy nose. Love those boys!
    Today, I'm working on summarizing my WIP. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to pitch something that isn't finished, but I already have the hooks for my two finished paranormal romance novels down pat. And I can't help being excited about my work in progress!
    See you soon!

  2. You definitely have more of a challenge with the childcare!

    I think it's great that you're summarizing your WIP. When I pitched to Joanna Volpe last year, she asked me what else I was working on. I wasn't very smooth with those, since I hadn't practiced them. This year, I'll be prepared!


  3. Great tips Debbie! Have a fantastic conference!

  4. Thanks, Julie! I think I may be sleepwalking by Sunday evening, but it'll be fun. :)


  5. My suggested add on - water bottle. Saved me last year. :)

    See you tomorrow!

  6. Enjoy the conference, Debbie.

    I'm a list-maker, so I appreciate these practical tips, plus the insider info of what makes someone look like a novice! Thanks for this post. :-)

  7. Good things to remember when I attend my next Writer's conference...thanks, Debbie!

  8. It's neat to read what volunteer opportunities you're taking advantage of, and the whole conference sounds pretty exciting. Enjoy! And wishing you all the best during your pitch session. Good luck...

  9. @WB: thanks for remembering the water bottle! I also bring a thermal mug for hot drinks.

    @Janette: I like lists, too. Hopefully I won't forget anything.

    @Jarm:I hope you get to go to one soon!

    @Kenda: I'm convinced volunteering is the way to go. I just spent a couple hours unpacking boxes of books for the conference bookstore. Got to browse books and talk to some of the authors.


  10. I'm looking forward to seeing you throughout the weekend. (And maybe at the airport on Thursday).



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