Top Ten Things Not to do at a Writer’s Conference

Here is the 57th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do. I put this together after observing other conference attendees in action at a recent writer’s conference I attended. Hope you enjoy

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Top Ten Things Not to do if You Attend a Writer’s Conference

10. If you attend a writer’s conference, do not think you need to impress the faculty with your knowledge of the writing craft. If you do, at best you will sound ridiculous teaching best-selling authors about writing. At worst, one of the best-selling authors may ask you how many books you have sold.

9.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not volunteer to be the first to read your story out loud. If you do, at best you will finish your reading and no one will applaud since you obviously did not hear the instructions. At worst, you will finish your reading and the instructor will use you as the example of what not to read aloud.

8.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not continually ask questions in the form of personal anecdotes. If you do, at best you will demonstrate to faculty and fellow attendees how insecure you really are in your writing. At worst, you may find the faculty intentionally ignoring your raised hand during Q&A to the delight of your fellow authors.

7.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not think one of the agents attending will remember and represent you if you try to monopolize their time. If you do, at best you might find that agent has decided to go home early and will remember you forever. At worst, the agent will believe you to be a stalker and report you to the police and remember you forever.

6.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not try to maneuver yourself next to best-selling authors at the social events. If you do, at best you will eventually be discovered and the authors will know you for a not so good reason. At worst, you will be the laughing-stock at the faculty gathering prior to each event which will result in an informal shunning procedure.

5.   If you attend a writer’s conference, do not believe you become even more interesting to best-selling authors after too many glasses of wine. If you do, at best you will be the only one at the conference who believes you to be a serious author. At worst, you may just go over the line and need help getting to your room which will leave a lasting impression on all those who witness the event as well as those who may not want to sign a contract with someone who has a drinking problem.

4.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not jump to the front of the serving lines to be the first to grab your food so you will be ready to squeeze into the spot next to John Lescroart. If you do, at best you may have the conference attendees believing you have some kind of eating disorder. At worst, you might be sending a message to the conference that you will do all most anything to get ahead and will be able to count with one finger the number of people who might be willing to help you

3.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not assume all the conference attendees can learn from your experience. If you do, at best you will eventually have difficulty finding people who will talk to you. At worst, you might be really humiliated when you discover the attendees you are trying to impress have signed with major publishing houses and dearly want to stay away from you.

2.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not think others will be impressed by your numbers of followers on social media. If you do you, at best you may find out some successful authors do not personally do social media and will not be impressed. At worst, you will find that your numbers no matter how large are still smaller than others in attendance.

1.  If you attend a writer’s conference, do not promise to send e-mails and to keep in touch after the conference and then fail to do so. If you do, at best the attendees will forget about you and it will be your loss. At worst, you will be remembered as one who doesn’t follow through and at some point in the future you may have to live down that trait.

 

44 comments

  1. Excellent and hilarious list. Though I have to ask: How many of these things did you see at the conference?

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    1. I saw all of them except number one. I expect there will be little e-mail followup from those who promised to followup.

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      1. Guess you’ll be showing up with a checklist next time. 🙂

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      2. LOL

        On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 7:54 AM, Fiction Favorites wrote:

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  2. What a funny list, John! I suspect you saw a lot of this at the conference, if only because people get nervous and often say/do silly things when around their favorite bestselling authors. Goodness, people do these things at non-writing conferences too 😉

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    1. Yes I drew inspiration from the future best-selling authors in the room. People behavior fascinates me. Thanks Marie.

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  3. Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    Another entertaining Top Ten List from John Howell, author of My GRL! Click through and start your week off with a few laughs 🙂

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  4. Are these from personal experience or observations?

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    1. These are observations of those around me at a recent conference. Number one (e-mail followup) remains to be seen.

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  5. *laughs* Number 8…definitely don’t want to do that one!

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    1. It amazes me that some folks think the center of the Earth runs through wherever they are at the time. Thanks for the visit. Always an honor.

      On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM, Fiction Favorites wrote:

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  6. Yep … went to the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference last summer and saw a lot of this. The one that drives me crazy is the promise to email and not follow-up. There was a small group of us who were going to exchange our writing efforts and provide feedback. I sent something around and provided some feedback on one of the others’ pieces and have never heard back from any of them.

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    1. I haven’t done any e-mailing yet but will expect the same. I love the Mendocino Coast. Used to live in Sonoma and went there quite often for weekends away. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Reblogged this on A.R. Rivera Books and commented:
    Thank you, Fiction Favorites!
    I’ll have to keep these things in mind when I attend my first writers conference:

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    1. Thank you so much for the reblog. Yes, keep them in mind and also sit back and watch the others.

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  8. Great list, John. I’ve seen many of these behaviors at similar events (sci-fi conventions and author readings). I think they’re inevitable when you get a group of bookish, socially awkward introverts together in one spot. It’s just that some of us are better at controlling our actions than others. 🙂

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  9. Great post, John. Made me laugh. Please fix one thing: “antidotes” should be “anecdotes.” LOL

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    1. I took them to prevent being poisoned. It is fixed thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hahaha! I’ve never been to a writer’s conference, and I will surely remember this if and when I attend in the future.

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    1. I hope you get to attend some time. Thanks

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  11. I like your lists. Not only are they entertaining and hilarious, they hold sobering truths within. 🙂

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    1. Thank you. Unfortunately there was a lot of truth in this list.

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  12. Excellent! 🙂 Dying to know if you did number 9. That would so be me…short attention span.

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    1. Nope someone else did it though.

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      1. Nope. Well mannered I am.

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  13. Words of wisdom. I bet you followed your own advice… 😉

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    1. I did.

      On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM, Fiction Favorites wrote:

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  14. Love the list! Very funny!

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    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it

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  15. This is hilarious, John! Never fear, I would never do #9! I’m too shy. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the visit Jill and I’m glad you liked the list.

      On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 4:57 PM, Fiction Favorites wrote:

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  16. Great stuff, John. However, I always get way more interesting after a couple. 🙂

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    1. I think we all do. If not we don’t seem to notice. Thanks for the mention on Twitter. 😎

      Sent from my iPhone

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  17. Ah, haha– this sounds frightening, because I could see myself doing a few of these 😉

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    1. Well when you become a famous writer you can.

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  18. This list had me cracking up. I know what I won’t be doing when I do go to a conference.

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  19. I’ve done most of these…..

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    1. But you are forgiven cause you have talent.

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  20. Hahaha this crosses over to all sorts of occasions. I’m at a training course this week, don’t know anyone. First day I woke up at 6am doors banging! Got dressed in a nice dress and heels then checked my e-mails, late message from course organiser sent after I went to bed the evening before, wear clothes to roll around the floor in :/ he he quick change into my multi-coloured leggings and t-shirt. Thank goodness I saw it before I turned up!

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    1. Yes indeed. I would hate to see you after the rolling around on the floor. (dressed the way you were) Thanks for the comment. Hope you enjoy the course. (don’t you love the door bang wake-up)

      On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 2:14 PM, Fiction Favorites wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

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