Monday, March 28, 2022

Top 10 Tips To Survive a Writing Conference

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

On my writers loop, someone said this was their first time to go to a writing conference and asked for advice. 

As a conference veteran—I’ve been to a few dozen—I offer the following:

1. Don’t be terrified. I promise you’ll love it. Look for names you recognize. Some conferences give you regional or state stickers to add to your name tag to help connect with others in your area.

2. If you can, go a day early and volunteer to help stuff packets or something. That gives you a few friends right from the start.

3. Don’t push yourself. If you start to feel overloaded, skip a class or a general session and do something else. If you overload your senses, you won’t learn anyway. You can always pick up that class at another conference or get the notes from a friend.

4. Make use of the grounds—take a walk. Go to your room and take a nap. Go to the coffee shop and refuel.

5. If you plan to pitch to an agent or editor, practice at home and with friends. Agree with a couple of pals to call each other at random, unplanned hours and ask, “Tell me about your book.” Do that until you stop swallowing your tongue or stuttering.

6. Remember, agents and editors are people, too. They are there to find the next great book. It might as well be yours. If allowed, use mealtime to pitch at the tables, but don’t monopolize the conversation. Again, practice until you can deliver your pitch in 30 seconds. Then close your mouth. If you babble on for a long time and don’t give anyone else a chance, the editor/agent will think you do that in your writing, too. A good byword: Less is more.

7. Networking is as big a part of conference as the classes and pitch sessions. That’s how I met my critique partners back in 2005.

8. A word for the wise: never...I repeat...never follow an agent or editor into the restroom to pitch. Elevators are okay, but the restrooms are off limits. And don’t think it’s never happened.

9. Don’t set wild expectations. You will NOT be handed a contract at breakfast. 

10. For first timers (especially if you’re a fairly new writer) simply sit back and enjoy being among people who actually "get you.”


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. Years later, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and The Write Conversation.

Featured Image: Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash


  1. Great tips, Ane! I love writers' conferences, but they can be exhausting, so your advice is right on. Conferees need to remember that editors, agents, and authors come to these conferences wanting to meet them. If it weren't for the conferees, there would be no conference.

    1. That's for sure, Crystal! The do want to meet and converse, so it's good that we get some rest. For me, it's also a time to spend with old friends. How I'm looking forward to the BRMCWC in May. It's been 3 long years since I've been to a conference!