Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Avoid These Writing Conference Faux Pas

by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

We’re nearing the end of conference season, which begins in February (to my way of seeing it) and ends around September. Every year, I attend a great many of them, and enjoy each and every one. Some for one reason. Some for another.

I’m not alone in this, I’m sure. When we gather at writers conferences, we talk about which ones have the best editor and agent selection . . . the ones with the best freelancers . . . the best beds . . . the best food . . . the best praise and worship (for Christian writers conferences), the best social time. We mention the ones where we laugh the hardest. (I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard in my life as I did at St. David’s Christian Writers Conference this year.)

We—those of us who serve as faculty—also mention the ones with the sharpest conferees. The most prepared. The ones who have done their homework, whether in overall conference preparation or in making sure their work is presentable.

But, no matter how well-prepared, well-fed, well-slumbered, or which conference provides the best music or hardest laughter, there is always that one conferee who speaks the greatest faux pas of all. This is the conferee who ambles up to the editor (or agent or freelancer) at their table, shakes hands in greeting (good), makes eye contact (good), has all their papers neatly in a folder (good), and then says . . . “Now what is it you do again?”

When it comes time to make appointments with editors, agents, and freelancers, some conferees (most likely new writers) often get so excited, they write their names on any and every appointment sheet. They jot down the time and person of the meeting, lest they forget when the time comes (good), but they fail to write down who the person works for, what they do, etc. (And that’s not good.)

When you attend a writers conference . . . when you make those appointments . . . take the time to go to the conference notebook or website to study who the person you’ve made an appointment with works for and/or with. What books have they written (that you may have read)? What do you have in common with them? (If their bio says they enjoy hiking, and you enjoy hiking, this is a nice opener. “I read that you enjoy hiking. Do you have a favorite trail?”) And for the love of Pete, don’t present something to them that they do not represent. (“I know your bio says you don’t take fiction, but when you read my work I know you’ll change your mind.”) You have just wasted your time, their time, and the time of someone else who doesn’t write fiction could have appreciated.

Writers conference appointments are not a game of “who can meet with the most.” They are a time of professionalism. So be prepared with more than your written words, your handshake, and your eye-contact. Know who it is you are meeting with. And never, ever, open with a line like “Now what is it you do?”

Avoid these #writing conference faux pas - tips from @EvaMarieEverson (Click to Tweet)

#Writing conferences are a time to shine as a professional - @EvaMarieEverson (Click to Tweet)

Best-selling, award-winning author Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her latest novel, The One True Love of Alice-Ann (Tyndale), releases April 1, 2017.


  1. Professionalism goes a long way. Taking extra time to do our homework pays off.
    Thanks for the reminder, Eva Marie.

  2. Professionalism goes a long way. Taking extra time to do our homework pays off.
    Thanks for the reminder, Eva Marie.

  3. I'll take this moment to thank all the faculty that have poured their wisdom into me. What a blessing to spend 15 minutes with those more advanced then I am.
    Before attending a conference, I research all the staff, then compare their availability with the workshops I want to attend. (I don't want my important workshop interrupted.) Then after picking a few I hope to meet with--I shamelessly try to beat the crowd to sign-up for the coveted slot.

  4. Thank you for your pointers. We always need to be aware of another person's time and try not to waste it.

  5. Gems of wisdom. Thank you. We're looking forward to having you join us again at St. Davids.