in one week and two days, i am leaving for SCBWI.
and here's the thing - i'm very nervous!
so i thought i could exorcise that demon of nerves by confessing it here.
(by the way, for the longest time, i thought that expression was "exercise your demons" - like, put them on a leash and take them out for a jog around the block. makes a lot more sense now that i know the right spelling.)
anyway, i usually fight nerves by being uber-prepared. i do research and make lists. (and then i rewrite the lists in charts with perfectly symmetrical rows and columns, because that calms me down. thanks, OCD!)
but it's hard to prepare for the unknown, and writing conferences are completely foreign to me.
what do you wear? is it okay to march up to people and introduce yourself? what if you're not a march-and-introduce sort of person? do i haul my laptop to all of the sessions, or is that nerdy? is it okay to just be myself and admit i AM kind of nerdy? will my roommate care if i make coffee in the room every morning, afternoon and night? will anyone sit with me at lunch? when is it the right time to hand someone a business card? what should be ON my business card? and seriously... what do you WEAR?!
some of these questions i've tackled. for one, Handsome made me these:
can't wait to hand them out! :)
other questions, well - i guess i'll just wing it.
but i did get some helpful advice from other writers who have been around the conference block, and i thought i'd share the wisdom here, in case any of you are as nervous as i am.
1) practice your elevator pitch.
this isn't just about pitching to agents or editors. it's about having one or two lines in your pocket that you can pull out whenever someone asks, "hey, what's your book about?" (and by pocket, i mean a mental pocket in your brain. don't actually write this stuff down and pull it from your pocket - although, that would be a great comfort for when i get tongue-tied. hmmmm.)
1-a) be prepared to talk about what you're working on now.
in other words, have an elevator pitch for your finished book, your WIP and whatever you plan to write next. know your own work and be ready to talk about it!
specifically, read something everyone will be talking about.
now, i always say reading is for pleasure, and you should read whatever you want. but i also think you should be well-read in the genre you write. if you write dystopian YA, people may expect you to have an opinion about Hunger Games. Haven't read HG? that's fine, but maybe you just picked up the new book Divergent that everyone's hot for, and you can talk about that! you don't have to read it all, but yes, READ!
-- the reading challenge i gave myself was to read novels by the keynote speakers and other authors who will be presenting at the conference. i won't be able to finish the entire pile of books i bought, but it's been fun trying!
3) be friendly.
i really like this bit of advice, because it can mean anything from bellying up to the bar and ordering a round of drinks for soon-to-be friends... to simply returning a smile and a hello from a stranger. if you're not the type to approach - at least be approachable.
so i'm packing all of that advice with me when i head to LA next weekend. if you're flying west too, be sure to look for the very short blonde playing with her hair and chewing on her fingernails. i promise if you smile and say hi, i'll smile and say hi back. :)
by the way - i just noticed all of the above pearls of wisdom are about who i am, what i read and what i write... and not at all about what i should WEAR. maybe that's my first conference lesson learned. ;)