Thursday, November 9, 2017

Writing Conference Etiquette—From the Director’s Perspective

One writing conference director shares a list of what not to do.
by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I’ve been on both sides of the writing conference scene—for a long time. I attended conferences for 10+ years before I took a position on a leadership team. I’ve now been in leadership for almost that long. And I’ve seen a lot of things.

Some good.

And some not so good.

Today I thought I’d let you peek in the window at my unique perspective ad take a look at some of things we should never do.

What Not To Do
1. Assume that someone is acting out of malice. Conferences can be a highly stressful situation. Emotions are heightened and that can lead us to act—and react—in ways that are outside our normal behavior. Because of this, I often see conferees jumping to the conclusion that someone did something hurtful on purpose. By giving one another the benefit of the doubt, we can often diffuse difficulty situations.

2. Act rudely. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how often I see this. Desperate attendees interrupt others, trying to get the attention of editors and agents. Others physically push in line to get just the appointment the think they need. Beyond that, conferees have been known to follow faculty in the personal facilities and other inappropriate places. Remember that there are others who also have hopes and dreams and it’s never okay to destroy someone else in our climb to the top.

3. Refuse to do your homework. Almost all the conferences I’m a part of go to extreme lengths to disseminate the information attendees need. We have websites, blogs, Facebook groups, emails, etc. Yet every year my phone rings off the wall from folks who refuse to spend five minutes searching for information that’s easily accessible. We’ve even been accused of not doing our due diligence in getting out the information because the person complaining doesn’t check email. So much of publishing is following written directions. Do yourself—and your career—a favor and take advantage of the information provided to help you succeed.

NOTE: My team and I do not mind answering questions. Obviously there’s no way we can anticipate every question someone might have. We just get weary of those who refuse to do any work at all to find information.

4. Forget that God is in control. So much of the previous points would be alleviated if we would just remember that ultimately, God is the one in control of our writing path. He will work out the appointments He wants us to have—even if there are no appointments available. So take a deep breath and release control back to the One who has only our best interests at heart.

As I said, writing conferences can be stressful—as well as joyful—experiences. So by taking some time before hand and deciding how we’re going to act can make all the differences.
Now it’s your turn. What are some not-to-dos that you’d add to my list? Remember we all learn together when we’re willing to share. So be sure to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

TWEETABLES

One #writing conference director shares a list of what not to do - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

14 comments:

  1. I've had folks follow me into the restroom and slide things under the stall door. I never get angry, but I do ask if I can have a minute, then slide it back with my foot. It's that feeling of desperation that the opportunity will be missed and it's excitement as well. I understand that. And on the other side of the coin, I've stood in line to meet an author and had folks nudge in front of me causing me to miss the opportunity to meet the person I was equally as excited to meet. These are good words of wisdom and kindly said. What I've found, is there are few editors or publishers at a Christian conference who will allow a conferee to miss out on their opportunity to speak with them. It's why those late night and very early morning meetings continue to happen. We want to be sure every conferee has the change to meet with us.

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    1. Cindy, thank you for sharing your experiences. So often people don't believe these things actually happen! Blessings, E

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  2. I am glad you shared this and hopefully will wake people up. I just had someone criticize a speaker over such a little thing and your first point describes that exactly, a heightened emotional time. I hope to have a follow up conversation with her in a few weeks and share that framework so she understands more. Conferences can be life changing and energizing but oooo, so full of emotions.

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    1. Jean, I'll be praying for that conversation (I hope I wasn't that speaker). Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  3. Great thoughts Ms. Edie! We cannot forger, both at writer's conferences and in everyday life, we must keep Christ in the center of our lives. Thanks so much for the timely reminders.

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    1. Jim, great application! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

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  4. Edie,

    Thank you for this practical article. What people forget is that editors and agents do not need to come to conferences. Our email is flooded with submissions every day.Why do we travel across the country and meet one on one with authors? We do it because we are looking for good books. Editors and agents are regular people who buy books (offer contracts) to people that they know, like and trust. A lot of the "knowing" comes in a few minutes together at a conference. It can be life-changing for the writer and the editor or agent.

    Terry

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    1. Terry, you are so right! Thank you for weighing in with your experiences as a publisher, Blessings, E

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  5. Thanks for this, Edie. Unmet expectations and lack of preparation can kill the conferee's buzz. Satan wants to destroy the hearts of Christian writers. It's our responsibility not to let that happen.

    Great info to help prepare and educate conferees.

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    1. Robin, you are correct. Satan is out to destroy us! Blessings, E

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  6. Great post, Edie.
    Conferences should be when we put our best foot forward. First impressions do count.
    I hope you would write a follow up blog post.

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    1. Ingmar, yes, first impressions are so critical! I will write a follow up post, thanks for the idea! Blessings, E

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  7. Edie, Great advice. It can be used throughout life. As a submission reader and junior agent, I'd love everyone to read this article before they submit a proposal. Especially #3. You are a talented, spirit filled director. I praise God you are in that position.

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    1. Cherrilynn, thank you! Feel free to use this as you need. Blessings, E

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