Conferences work for me on two levels. I continue to educate myself about the business of writing, including sharpening my writing skills, and I network with other writing professionals.
I hope you didn't stumble over that last word. Writing is a profession, and you should treat it as such. The single most valuable tip I have is to prep for meeting people. Whether you're published or unpublished, have something in your purse, briefcase, pocket, or conference bag that you can immediately hand to new acquaintances. A business card works. So does a book mark. Also be prepared to answer (in one sentence) the hook for the book you are marketing.
Why only one sentence? Because you don't want to turn people off. If you're pushing a book that has disco dancing vampires and your new acquaintance immediately shuts down, you want to steer the conversation to a previous work or your work-in-progress that might have a different marketing hook.
Pitches aren't just for agents and editors. You need to be able to give your pitch to anyone who strikes up a conversation with you. The most important conversation of your career could occur at the elevator door or waiting in line for the dinner room to open. You just never know.
Being prepared puts you one step closer to snagging a listener's attention. Plus if you give them a handout (business card, bookmark), there's a good chance that they will check out your website.
It's so easy to meet up with friends and eat every meal with them at a conference. Branch out, sit with new people. That's why you're at the conference, right? To meet new people. If you are open to meeting others, you run the risk of finding new readers.
So that's my tip. Be prepared to professionally market yourself at a conference. By doing so, you'll open new avenues that you hadn't previously considered.
SEEING RED OUT NEXT WEEK - www.freyasbower.com