We’ve all heard the warnings about conference etiquette. No monopolizing editors and agents. No launching into a lengthy pitch unless asked. No sliding a manuscript under the bathroom stall when the editor next to you really just wants a few squares of toilet paper.
I used to think this was folklore. What self-respecting writer would actually behave like this? Editors and agents must be making it up, just to sway anyone from ever behaving so rudely.
I was wrong. Some writers think that attending a conference entitles them to elbow their way past the other aspiring writers and into an agent’s or editor’s good graces.
I was flabbergasted not long ago, when a woman had the audacity to say at a conference luncheon table, “Well, we’re sitting with editors and agents, and I drove eleven hours to get here so I’m not going to waste this opportunity.” She then polled each publishing professional to see if they’d be willing to have a looksie at her novel, which she described in detail.
Apparently she hadn’t read the list of no-nos that came with the conference packet. “Please pass the ketchup” is okay to say at the lunch table; “will you read my manuscript” isn’t. Everyone else appeared annoyed or uncomfortable, but the woman rambled on about that manuscript and others. I was so busy seething and tuning her out that I regrettably did not tell her to shut up.
My drive to the conference was only a half-hour, but over the years I’ve made numerous professional and personal sacrifices to become a children’s writer. So an eleven hour ride? PSHAW!
When we go to these conferences, we’re all excited about the possibilities. But we shouldn’t brim with so much enthusiasm, like Miss Eleven Hours, that we alienate editors, agents, and other attendees.
The thing I love about the children’s writing community is that we are an extremely supportive group. I have made great friends at conferences. We encourage each other all the time. Isn’t it better to make friends than enemies at conferences?
Did you ever meet someone who committed a conference faux pas? Do you have any advice for others on What Not To Do At Conferences?