Pinkies Up: Writing Conference Etiquette

Have you ever attended a writing conference? In a span of two or three days, you can learn specific aspects of the craft of writing, meet agents, editors and authors, and network with writers from around the country.

If you're new to writing conferences, start with a small, regional conference. You won't feel lost in a crowd, and you'll get comfortable with the format of workshops and meals. Many conferences offer various levels of workshops, so whether you are a novice or a multi-published writer, you should find topics you'd like to sit in on.

While many conferences are general, you can also find conferences in your specific genre. Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror, Romance, Christian, Thriller, Children's . . . the list goes on. Many writing organizations host yearly conferences for their members.

If a conference offers meals, you'll find that usually a different conference faculty member sits at each table. Enjoying a meal together is a great low-stress way to get to know people in the business. But don't ignore your fellow attendees. I've made wonderful friends and contacts just by asking the question, "What do you write?"

Check to see if the conference you're attending offers critiques or agent/author/editor appointments. Critiques are usually offered for a fee, but they are invaluable if you need objective feedback from someone who is a professional in the business. Appointments with agents and editors are for writers with a finished novel or a non-fiction book to pitch. Make sure to practice your pitch in advance. Alternatively, you can meet with authors or publicists to ask questions specific to your manuscript.

If the cost of a conference is prohibitive, look at the conference website to see if they offer partial or full scholarships. Some organizations allow attendees to "work off" part of their conference fee by volunteering at the conference. The bonus for volunteering is getting to know conference organizers, and meeting the conference faculty (they all need a ride to the airport!).

I've collected some links to other posts about conference do's and don'ts. Check them out, and start planning.

Tips from QueryTracker

What if I'm not good enough?

Getting a critique at a conference.

Should you go?

What to bring.

Hot tips for conferences.

How to choose the best conference


  1. If new to conferences, going to a mini-workshop or full day workshop is a good alternative to attending a full-fledged conference. It's like sticking your toe in the water verses jumping in fully clothed. :)

    I love conferences, but the feel of workshops are a much better fit if starting out. Work your way up to the big stuff. It's not as overwhelming.

  2. That's a great tip. The first thing I went to was a full-on conference. Your advice would have helped me ease into the madness.




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