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This has to be one of the biggest gatherings of children’s writers, authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, interested friends and more.
Given it’s size, here are a few tips from my frequent attendance:
Bring your water and coffee mug – save on trash.
Pick your sessions carefully based on topic for your work needs, or who is a likely that you will want to submit to afterwards.
Have business cards, ready to exchange. No one really uses them but it refreshes your memory on who you met. Make notes on the back of the card if you need follow-up or make notes on your phone with date and time.
Bring snacks. You might get caught up chatting with a new friend, old friend, or industry luminary, and miss a meal or break.
Bring battery backup for your phone in case your phone chews up a lot of juice or you don’t get back to your room or an outlet all day.
Put a star by the most important points you hear during the sessions. At the end, make a list of the stars and speakers.
Prioritize your stars and to-do’s at the end of the conference or THE FIRST DAY you get back.
Make subject files when you get home and slot your notes/computer print outs into subject files, i.e. queries, writing a series, plot, bookstore signing, school visits, reference books. When you need to have reference material to perk up your brain and writing on a key issue, you will have it ready to go, verses rifling through the folder tonnage from conferences, trying to remember where you saw some crucial bit of advice.
Keep a smile and an open, positive attitude. Don’t talk about how depressed you are about how long you’ve been writing on a draft or how many rejections. Stay upbeat. No one wants to be with a downer. Don’t be depressed by the writer who wrote one draft and was picked up by an agent through a chat. Or by the writer who submitted to five agents over one month and had four offers. It happens rarely.