On Monday I’m heading to NYC for the Romance Writer’s of America conference. I LOVE this conference, even though it’s usually one hell of a crazy time. The best part about it, is I get to see many of my writer pals from around the world. My schedule is already packed with breakfasts, lunches and dinners with some of my favorite people in the world.
I’m teaching at the conference this year. I’m doing my Fast Draft class, which is how to write a book in two weeks. There’s actually real psychology about the creative process in this class. Even if you don’t write 20 pages a day, you’ll write faster if you take this class. I’ll also be sitting on a panel with my agent, Elaine Spencer, and my friends agent Lucienne Diver, Deborah Blake and Rosemary Clement Moore. We’ll be talking about our road to finding the perfect agent.
But what I really wanted to talk about is how not to be a crazy, desperate writer. We’ve all been there. We play that “if only” game. If only that agent would sit at my table and ask me about my book. If only I’d received an appointment with “that” editor. If only… We make ourselves crazy and it shows.
So, I’m telling you right now. DON’T BE THE CRAZY WRITER IN THE ROOM. No matter what conference you are at, be the sane one. Be the one who saves the editor/agent/published writer from the crazy people. You know when you see the situation. The editor/agent/published writer has that deer in the headlights look as some writer tells them over and over and over again about their book.
Remember, this is a business. Our hearts may be on that page, but it’s still a business. You should be professional, polite and gracious at all times. Editors/Agents notice when you aren’t insane. No, really they do. If you’re funny and entertaining, they remember that. And nine times out of ten, they will ask you what you write.
When that happens, you need to have a one minute pitch and then you need to SHUT UP. Let them ask you questions. Don’t keep droning on and on and on. Tell them the who, what, where, when and why of your book, and then zip it.
Now, I know a lot of us are introverts. Being at a large conference can be a scary prospect. I’ve been going to RWA for years and I’m still overwhelmed by it. Stay calm and find some friends. If you’re alone, go to one of the lunches and sit by someone. Ask them what they write. You’ll probably end up with a friend for life.
And beware, there really is a thing called writer Karma. Whatever you do, DO NOT TALK TRASH about other writers, editors or agents. If I had a dollar for every time someone was talking trash and the person they were talking about walked by, I would be RICH. I mean it. When you get in your room and the door is closed, then you can bitch to your friends. But not until then.
My friends and I have the cone of silence where we can talk about whatever we want, but it’s always in our rooms.
So, there’s my advice for being the sane one at conferences. Feel free to add to the list.
And if you are in the NYC area, please come see me Tuesday night at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway from 5:30-7:30. I’ll be signing books and the signing is FREE to the public. Part of the proceeds go to charity.