5 Tips for Attending a Writers Conference

Checking in at CWC2015

We’re coming up on the last day to register for the 2016 Chicago Writers Conference (September 8), and there’s only two weeks to go before the big weekend! To help all our attendees prep for the event, we’ve compiled a list of the top five tips for attending a conference. We hope to see you there!


1. Have fun!

It’s a learning experience, but learning should be fun. Go with the goal of enjoying yourself.

2. Be open to whatever the experience is

Many people sign up for conferences with the intent of landing an agent or getting a book deal. Not only does that rarely happen, but we’ve found that the greatest value comes from things that aren’t business- or publishing-related. It’s the new ideas you get, the friends and connections you make, the experiences you enjoy, and the lessons you take away.

3. Carry business cards

You’ll undoubtedly meet people who want to stay in touch with you. And for $20 or so, you can buy and print your own cards. Include your name, website or blog, twitter handle, email and phone number, at a bare minimum.

Plus, if you offer freelance services you’d better have these! Conferences are a great opportunity to make connections with potential clients, and if they have no way to contact you, you won’t get their business.

4. Don’t bring your manuscript

There’s this lovely new thing called “email” and if a publishing professional wants to see your work, s/he will ask you to email the manuscript. You don’t want to lug it around all weekend, and they don’t want to carry it. And please, don’t insist an editor, agent, or publisher look at your work. They will ask if they want to see it, really. You want to remain in their good graces. Remember your manners. Ah, yes…

5. Remember Your Manners

Cell phones on silent, no yakking during the sessions, if you need to take a call or talk about Suzy’s baby shower, leave the room, please. We’d rather you didn’t text through a panel or talk, and no recording a session. No cutting in the lunch line, no bad-mouthing.  All that good stuff.

This post is just a starter. Other best practices abound! Check out what other writers have said:


For more writing tips and Q&As with our speakers for CWC2016, subscribe to the bi-weekly newsletter!

Share this: