Yay! So you have signed up for the summer conference this year. That is exciting; but now what? It’s overwhelming! Three days of keynotes, breakout sessions, intensives, portfolio showcase, a costume gala, lunch, dinner, hotel… OMG! So much to think about.
Most artists and writers are introverts by nature and are not comfortable in social situations, big or small. The summer conference is big – really big. The best thing you can do is change everything about the way you normally think and BE BRAVE. Talk to people, introduce yourself, and remember everyone there is the same as you – they love children’s books. These people are your colleagues, or future colleagues, so don’t be afraid to talk to them. That said, there are some things that you can do to make your experience way less scary, more productive, and fun. I hope this helps.
AT THE CONFERENCE
THINGS TO DO
- Be yourself – be genuine, kind, courteous and thoughtful.
- Choose your breakouts based on your interests and desires, not just what your friends are doing. You signed up so make the most of it. You can meet your friends between them, and sit with them for keynotes, hang out at night. It’s great to be together, but this is your time.
- Show up on time to everything – it’s professional. Remember you only get to make a first impression once.
- Be open to critiques in the intensives, portfolio show, first pages, or anything where your work may be read or shown.
- Introduce yourself to someone, or many people, whom you have never met before.
- Do unto others – remember that? Treat others how you want to be treated – with respect, kindness, and consideration.
- Say THANK YOU a lot.
- Remember that everyone there is just like you, so ignore those feelings of “OMG, he/she wrote best selling novels so I am not worthy!” etc. You are just like them, they are just like you. Think of them as colleagues. They will be someday.
- Be excited to talk about yourself and your work, but without bragging, or selling.
- Be humble.
- Make real connections with people who you really like.
- Talk about things other than your work.
- Get, and hand out business cards, phone numbers and emails.
- Dress comfortably and stay hydrated.
The summer conference is a great place to learn your craft, be inspired, and make life long connections. Be ready to have fun. If you are a shy person, like so many artists and writers, try not to be intimidated by the number of people there. It’s okay to talk to authors, agents, editors, and artists who you like. Just be aware of their time. So no pitching in the bathrooms, etc. Talk to people in pairs. If you have a more confident friend, ask them if it’s okay to hang with them, and/or get introduced to someone through them.
The art of the SCHMOOZE
The gala is a great place to meet and connect with people. You don’t have to partake in the costume contest, but it’s a lot of fun, and if you dress up, it’s like wearing a mask for a night. You can be someone else. This helps some of the shy people have confidence.
Just be genuine, happy, and gracious all the time, and you can’t go wrong.
If you can, stay at the Hyatt, or surrounding hotels. It makes it much easier because the days are long. You can room with friends to help with costs. If you commute, you can park on the streets off Beverly Glenn and south of Olympic – but it’s a walk. The Hyatt has special rates on parking. Just watch your hours – there is a limit. In the Century City Mall, there is a Gelson’s (high end groceries), food court and restaurants. Equinox has a gym as well (there is a hotel rate).
AFTER the conference.
Wait before you send queries, manuscripts, portfolios and emails. You want to think about what you heard and learned. Give yourself time to absorb the information. You won’t miss anything by not sending on Monday morning. There is room for everyone, so don’t feel panicked. Do follow up with people you met via emails and social media. It’s great to remind people in the subject line where they met you (unless you really connected, then they will know by your name).
BE FEARLESS. BE CONFIDENT. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. HAVE FUN.
You can find Stephanie Olivieri, author & illustrator, on her website http://www.stepholivieri.com/