My Twisted Writer Brain…

Top Ten Things to Take to a Writers’ Conference

1.) Business Cards with your name, email, and website if you have one. If you can’t afford to buy them, get some colored card-stock and make your own. 

  • Stop and consider the information you want to include on your cards. I used to always put my phone number but then started getting weird texts from someone I’d talked to briefly at a conference. Not cool—Needless to say, I ordered new cards without the phone number.
  • Leave all personal info like address etc. off. Remember you don’t know these peeps from a hole in the ground. 
  • Avoid black and/or high glossy cards. They look awesome but are difficult to write on if you need to.

2.) A reusable water bottle with your name on it. It’s so important to stay hydrated especially when you’re running from class to class.

  • Remember to drink lots of water and prepare to leave it in a classroom at least once. 
  • You’ll be doing lots of chatting—water helps. 

3.) Comfortable shoes/clothes for plenty of standing, sitting, and walking. This is a time to leave the high heels at home and go for comfort. 

  • Now, comfort doesn’t mean that you throw on a dirty old t-shirt, stained jeans, and ratty runners. Remember that this is still a business event and you’re looking to make professional connections. Business casual is best. A pair of clean jeans with a blouse or button-up shirt—you get the idea. 
  • Remember to use deodorant.
  • Always dress and present yourself for success. It’s a good habit to get into. 

4.) A notebook and a couple of good pens. Seems fairly evident that you’ll be taking notes and such but in the excitement don’t forget the obvious. 

  • You may want to take your laptop or tablet but tbh I only end up using it in my room for emails. It’s up to you but if space is at a premium, leave it home.

5.) A light sweater or jacket. This can be a lifesaver if the venue has their air conditioning cranked too high.

6.) Snacks. Protein bars, granola bars, nuts, breath mints, fruit, etc. Bringing them from home can save money and time. Throw something in your bag so you can eat on the run if necessary. 

7.) Remedies for the unexpected. Bring all your normal medications and consider things for dry eye (so much reading), headaches (busy, busy…or drinky, drinky), sore back (strange bed/too much sitting), and any other ailment that may rear its ugly head. You don’t want anything ruining your weekend so best come prepared. 

8.) Bring cash to spend at the conference Book Fair. Often authors attending the event also have books for sale but don’t take credit cards or debit. It’s always good to have a bit of cash tucked away—just in case.

  • With cash it’s also much easier to throw in for a shared lunch, for vending machines, or tipping. 
  • Bring your debit and cc too. Get receipts for all expenses as they are tax deductions.

9.) Extras…Chargers, selfie stick, and hi-res camera if you’re wanting pix of yourself for your website.

10.) A nice big comfy canvas bag or briefcase to carry everything.

  • Often you’ll receive a bag from the organizers of the conference but don’t count on it. Take your favorite to pack stuff around. 

Beyond the physical, it’s important to bring a positive attitude of acceptance and openness as you work to fulfill the five reasons you’re there: To Learn, Share, Network, Find Your People, and hone your Social Skills. 

Prepare before you go. Here are some things to consider: 

  • Do your homework. Who is presenting? Check out their bios. Are they a good fit for you? Who do you want to connect with? Look at the schedule and the classes offered.
  • Leave the printed manuscript at home. If you have nothing else take the first ten pages. If an agent/editor asks for more they’ll expect it via electronic submission.
  • Is your favorite author at the conference? Do you own one of their books? By all means take it along to get it signed.
  • Be prepared to be asked: “What do you write?” Hmm…I think I wrote a blog on that. You’ll be asked about your work over and over again. Be prepared. Practice your pitch before you go and fight to stay on point.
  • Have fun but know your limits…whether it’s alcohol intake, sleep deprivation, or chocolate cake—be aware.
  • Don’t pressure yourself too much to participate. If this is your first conference and you feel more comfortable staying on the sidelines a bit then that’s ok–for now. There will come a time when you need to jump in with both feet.
  • Always be courteous, polite, and professional. You never know who’s watching or listening. Just saying…


Two affordable Canadian conferences for 2020. Registration is now open for both. Don’t wait too long–these are both popular events.

Hotel is separate.

When Words Collide, Calgary, Alberta August 7-9, 2020 pass is only $40

Creative Ink, Burnaby, B.C. May 15-17, 2020. Pass is $80 but if you email: and tell her I (Faye Arcand) sent you, the pass will be discounted to $65.

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