The Art of Preparation: Getting Ready for Your Debut Writing Conference

all yall.png

by Romy Natalia Goldberg

Texas: Brazos Valley RA

Will the All Y’all Conference be your debut writing conference? Are you nervous? Excited? Wondering what you’re in for? All of the above? Here are some tips to help you prepare and make the most out of your debut conference experience. 

Say goodbye to impostor syndrome 

We’ve all been there. Your first conference and everyone else seems like a Big Important Author or Fancy Artsy Illustrator while you feel like… a total phony. Everyone involved is here to improve their craft, make connections, and learn how to get their stories out into the world. So take a look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I belong here, these are my people.”

Say hello to faking it till you make it

Be sure to take yourself seriously, even if it feels weird at first. You are not a struggling artist or an aspiring author, you’re an artist, period, you’re an author, period. That means you 

  • a business card (or digital equivalent) for networking purposes, 
  • a basic professional looking website or social media presence with contact information
  • 1-2 sentence descriptions of your current works in progress and/or a short description of what types of stories you like to write (example: “I am drawn to middle grade fantasy that explores complex sibling dynamics and climate change.”)

Introverts: find a conference buddy 

Finding a conference buddy beforehand can help stave off nerves and make the main conference room feel less like a highschool cafeteria. Splitting up sessions and sharing notes helps ensure you make the most of the conference without trying to get to everything yourself. If you are looking to make connections with specific faculty, try pairing up with an extrovert. Be sure to follow the conference hashtag and many attendees will offer recaps on sessions they enjoyed via social media. 

Plan for post-conference downtime

Conferences are so jam packed with people and information, the post-conference energy drain is real! Once the conference is over, set aside a few hours to review your notes, file away and follow contacts made, and write a game plan for implementing lessons learned. Sometimes it is helpful to write yourself a conference re-cap, either to share with others (remember not to share screen shots of faculty presentations) or for personal use.