(This article was originally written by Ben LeRoy of Tyrus Publishing. Mr. LeRoy will be one of our featured guests at the 2011 WV Writers Summer Conference.)
How to get the most out of a writing conference
Writing conferences can be a good opportunity for aspiring writers to learn about writing technique, get an understanding of the publishing business, and meet with agents and publishers. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your conference experience.
(1) Attend as many panels/workshops as possible. There are no excuses for sleeping in or catching any early lunch. You've paid your money to learn, you owe it to yourself to do it.
(2) Meet people. This isn't limited to just the panelists and lecturers, but also your fellow writers. It's a good chance to put together a writing group that will last longer than the conference. If it's a genre specific conference, you're even more fortunate-the people you're meeting like the same things you do.
(3) Remember that agents and publishers are people, too. If you've got a chance to pitch your project directly to a professional, don't be intimidated. It's just another person on the other side of the table. A relaxed and focused approach makes a much better lasting impression than a nervous rehearsed pitch. Also remember, that as people, agents and publishers may need private time or time with colleagues. If you see an agent eating lunch or in a conversation, you should respect her time and wait to approach her.
Get as much as you can out of the conference and remember always that publishing is a two-way street. Agents and publishers need new writers as much as new writers need agents and publishers. Write a good book, come prepared, and you'll have done plenty to distance yourself from your peers.
Best of luck!