The Romance Writers of America® National Conference is just 35 days away. That can seem like a very short time if you’re trying to finish writing a novel, or a very long time if you’re anxious to attend your first conference. Here are a few suggestions for those who can’t wait to get on that plane:
Polish your manuscripts. Yes, all of them. Obviously, you’ve finished polishing the novel you intend to pitch, but what about the other ones? You know that old historical you abandoned when you heard they weren’t selling? Well, markets change. What are you going to do if the editor tells you she has enough of whatever you’re pitching? Better have a backup plan just in case.
Practice your pitches. Yes, all of them. Even if you’re not formally pitching, you never know when you’ll end up sitting next to an editor or agent. Prepare concise answers to questions like “What do you write?” and “What else do you have ready?”
Get in Shape. Often, in the mad push to prepare manuscripts for conference, writers neglect themselves. No one expects you to drop twenty pounds between now and conference. But if there’s something about your appearance that makes you feel self-conscious, maybe now is the time to get it fixed. There’s still plenty of time to order stylish new glasses or whiten your smile.
Don’t wait until the last minute to make a major change in your appearance. I would show you pictures of last year’s hair disaster, but I was too traumatized to take any. Make sure you have enough time to get it fixed if it doesn’t work out.
Be Kind to Your Feet. If you have a regular day job, chances are you’ll be able to get by with the clothes you have in the closet. But the one thing you don’t want to skimp on is shoes. Even if you never leave the hotel, you’ll be amazed at how much walking you do at Nationals. Now’s the time to break in that new pair of sandals. If they’re not comfortable, don’t take them.
Update Your Phone: Nothing is more frustrating than making plans to meet up with your online friends and then not being able to find them. Now is the time to exchange cell phone numbers and save them in your phone’s contact list.
Coordinate Schedules: Workshops and chapter events often overlap. Chances are you’ll want to be in two places at the same time. Rather than being swept along unaware, take a few minutes to figure out what’s most important to you and plan accordingly.
Relax. Don’t let conference anxiety overwhelm you. Some of the best conference experiences are the ones we didn’t plan for. That timid person you meet while wandering the halls may turn out to be your best critique partner or the next great NYT bestseller.
I would love to hear your conference prep suggestions. What are you doing now to get ready for Nationals?