|Alan Orloff signing his books|
Life as an editor makes conferences a little different. For me, attending a writing conference is work - from the first panel in the morning to bar time at night. When I am invited to a conference, I usually spend a large amount of time giving critiques, taking pitches and sitting on panels discussing the nature of publishing. I attend banquets and conference sponsored events. It is my job to be available to the writers as much as possible. I generally don't have an opportunity to experience the conference in terms of panels and such.
|Vicki Doudera, Deborah Sharp, Jessie Lourey and Lind Hull at the Malice Domestic banquet|
If I am attending a convention (Bouchercon or Malice Domestic), I don't take pitches or do critiques, but the same philosophy applies. I am available as much as possible for writers, agents and other editors. I run around taking photos of my authors, catching a panel when I can, but mostly spend the time networking. And let me tell you, it is EXHAUSTING.
Which is why you can usually find me in bar. LOL.
No seriously, when the panels are over, food has been eaten and awards awarded, you can find me in the bar or the lobby. Generally the place where the most people are congregated.
As much as a conference or convention is to learn or hone the craft of writing - it is also where we can make our best connections. In the bar, there isn't talking about books or writing - there is talk about baseball, football, kids, health concerns... you name it. Where everyone lets his or her hair down, so to speak, and we get to know each other as people. Usually after spending time with a couple agents at a conference, they have a feel for my personality and what I like, therefore they send manuscripts that would have a good home with Midnight Ink. I meet writers who may eventually submit something to me. Or I meet a writer who goes home and tells someone in her critique group that his book is right up my alley and a connection is made.
I know a lot of writers are shy. Well, guess what, so am I. Honestly, I am almost off the charts introverted. If I were a writer, there is no way I would go to convention, much less talk to an editor there. No way. But when I am talking about books, well, that is my job. No, my passion in life. So I put on my big girl panties and get to work. So writers - this is my challenge to you: Go to a conference, learn all you can during the day, then hit the hotel bar at night and meet two new people every night. You never know who might be holding your golden ticket.
Below is a list of both conferences and conventions that I have gone to in the last few years and some I want to attend:
Love is Murder
Willamette Writers Conference
Houston Writers Guild
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
Feel free to list more conferences in the comments section. :) I know I am missing a bunch!
And for those crabby pants people who say you don't meet agents or editors at conferences... that is absolutely untrue. I would say that over half of my 2013 list is a direct result of attending conferences. Probably more if I really broke down the list. So do it. Attend a conference. Put yourself out there and let yourself shine. You never know - that icitini or G&T might reveal a perfect working relationship. See y'all at the bar.
PS - when I talk about conventions and conferences being work - please don't take it as complaining. It is, without a doubt, the best part of my job. ;)