It’s time! The conference is almost upon you and it’s time to start packing. But you freeze, unsure of what to take. You certainly don’t want to forget anything.
Here are some of the essentials:
Backpack or other sturdy bag
You’ll want a nice big bag to carry your papers and books around in at the conference. Take something that zips so you don’t dump your stuff all over the floor.
Wear some shoes you don’t mind running in. (i.e. not high heels) You’ll often be cutting it close to get to sessions (particularly if they are in different buildings) and you don’t want to be tripping over yourself.
It’s a good idea to dress up a bit for a conference, but it depends on the event. Some are definitely dressier and with others, like Realm Makers, you can get away with being a bit more casual. Generally, you don’t want to wear T-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings, or ratty jeans. The best thing to do is see if there are any pictures on the site of previous conferences. You’ll want to imitate what others are wearing.
If you still aren’t sure, a nice top with jeans is a good middle ground. For girls, a skirt is also a good choice.
You’ll be around authors, agents, editors, and other writers. You want to leave a good impression.
Dress in layers and take a jacket. You never know if the air conditioning will be broken or turned up way too high. Or it might be raining as you run from one building to another. Be prepared for anything.
You’ll want to capture your experiences at the conference. The camera on your phone is a good choice.
Paper and Pencils/Pens
I know some people like to take notes on their laptops or tablets, but it’s a good idea to take some paper just in case your battery dies. Or your tech breaks down. (Totally never happens.)
If you have business cards, you’ll want to take them. You can exchange them with fellow writers or even with an author!
Folder and/or envelope
This will keep all the handouts, flyers, and business cards organized instead of in a scattered pile at the bottom of your bag. (Tip: pick up all the free things. You can sort them when you get home. You’ll never know what you might pick up!)
Books you want autographed
If an author you love is going to be there, by all means take their book! They’d be happy to sign it. (Don’t forget to ask if you can get a picture with them!)
Money to buy more books
Conferences have tables of books written by the faculty and sometimes by other attendees. Take cash (they might only accept cash or their credit card machine might break) so you don’t spend your entire checking account. Create a budget and stick to it!
Take a sample of your writing
It’s a great idea to take the first chapter of your work-in-progress with you. If you don’t have a first chapter, take an article you wrote, a blog post, or even an outline! Then if you’re talking to someone and they say, “Hey, that’s an awesome idea. I’d love to read it someday,” you can reply, “I actually have the first chapter with me. Want to read it?”
Be sure you take at least two hard copies with you. That way if someone forgets to give it back or they write on it, you have another copy.
I know that’s a lot to remember, so here is a free, downloadable packing list!
Click the link to download! Writing Conference Packing List