Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 24, 2012
How long does it take you to prepare for a writers conference? Soon I’ll be heading off to the Space Coast Writers Guild Conference in Cocoa Beach, SleuthFest in Orlando, and Malice Domestic in Bethesda. It can take me up to a week to get ready for each event.
Conferences necessitate a lot of preparation, especially if you’re going as a speaker. Aside from determining what you hope to accomplish, i.e. attending specialized craft sessions, learning about new publishing options, meeting editors, etc., there’s the physical prep. Here’s a checklist of things to consider.
- Prepare for your talks. If you’re a panelist, it’s easier because you don’t have to do much prep, unless each person is expected to give a presentation. Moderator-run panels mean more work for the moderator but less work for the panel guests. If you are conducting a workshop on your own, you’ll need to compose or update your material.
- Get copies made of handouts. If you’re speaking on different topics, assemble each handout in a separate manila envelope to keep them organized.
- Order business cards unless you have them ready. Consider updating them with QR codes or with your social network URLs.
- Pack brochures, bookmarks, and flyers about your books.
- If you are driving, toss a box of extra books into your trunk in case the bookseller in charge of the signing doesn’t get your books in time. Bring a checkbook because the bookseller might offer to sell you leftover stock at a discounted price. Also consider giving away a book or two at your talks as a door prize or at the Q&A session.
- If you’re donating a raffle basket, get this ready.
- Bring a signup sheet for your newsletter.
- Print out the conference workshop schedule and highlight your appearances. List these on your website and other online sites and include these papers in your suitcase. Bring a highlighter along so you can go through the conference schedule on site and mark things you want to attend.
- Box promotional items for goody rooms, i.e. pens, magnets, and other swag.
- Print out contact info for friends you hope to meet at the conference.
- Decide which outfits to wear to the different events. Business attire for daytime, dressier clothes for evening? Don’t forget matching shoes, handbags, and jewelry.
- If you’re driving, print out directions to the venue. If you’re flying, make sure you have all the required documents.
- Determine what gadgets to bring along: iPad or Laptop? Kindle or Nook? Camera to photograph authors, panelists, and parties so you can document your post-conference blog?
- Notebook to take notes.
- Sharpie pens for signing books and ballpoint pens for note taking.
- All the usual things you bring when traveling: toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, etc.
And the countdown begins. What else would you add to this list?