I had the pleasure of attending SCBWI Florida’s Wizarding World of Writing conference this past weekend. It was a good event, and I met some talented writers and great people. But I noticed something worth pointing out: for every person who came up and talked to me, there were at least five who smiled and nodded but didn’t actually speak with me. Now, I’m making an assumption here, but I think those smiling and nodding folks probably wanted to talk to me. I’m assuming that because they were at the conference. And, if you’re going to get your money’s worth, you should be talking to the faculty! I’m sure it’s easier for writers to talk to the featured authors; they can convey their appreciation for the author’s work and have a conversation between peers, at least of sorts. I understand why authors might find agents and editors scary, but have you seen my picture? I’m not exactly intimidating. In fact, I think I’m pretty darn friendly! I also love to talk to new authors, and I attend conferences not just to scout new talent, but to help people improve their craft. Without interaction, it’s difficult to do that. This doesn’t mean that you should be pitching indiscriminately, or interrupting someone’s workout, meal, drink or conversation. You should still be polite. But conferences usually offer ample networking time, and if you don’t take advantage of it, someone else will!
As anyone who works with me knows, I love to assign homework. So for you dear blog readers, I have an assignment: the next time you attend a conference, introduce yourself to at least one agent or editor. And if you’ve had a good experience speaking with an agent at a conference, let us know in the comments!