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August 16, 2010

Personal Lessons From SCBWI LA 2010

Kate Hart

Cool costumes mean you can bug
famous authors like Jay Asher for pictures.

- DO: Wear a flamboyant costume to the Gala.

- DO: Have cards to give out when you get attention for said costume. When we planned, YA Highway cards seemed weird, but once we got there, we wished we had some.

- DON'T: Forget to give out your personal business cards. Particularly if your husband made a special last minute trip to Kinkos to pick them up for you.

- DO: Get in the hot tub with a big group of friends.

- DO: Be nice to the hotel employee forced to kick you out of the hot tub.

Kristin Jr. feeds the pigeons.
- DO: Get outside a little. Sitting in the hotel basement listening to speakers for 8 hours will make you weird.

- DON'T: Be a speshul snowflake who asks questions that pertain only to you. If you want to monopolize a professional's time, pay for a consultation, or avail yourself of some internet resources where real pros hang out.

Me and Deb

- DO: Tell Deb if you notice her chicken is undercooked. (Sorry Deb!)

- DO: Make some plans. The "Abilene Paradox" is a very real thing. (I learned its name from Steph Kuehn, a genius new friend we met that week.)

- DO: Attend every bit of the conference you can. I only went on Friday and Saturday, and heard that some of the best presentations were on Monday.

- DO: Bring a notebook. 99.9% of the speakers are brilliant, and the number of things I'd forgotten until I looked at my notes is shocking. For that other 0.1%... let's just say Kristin Sr. kicked my butt at tic tac toe.
This is me when faced with
noisy audience members.
- DON'T: Talk loudly during presentations. Seriously people. We paid money to hear this stuff. (This is where the notebook comes in handy-- write your snarky notes instead of whispering them. Or at least whisper in the first place!)

- DON'T: Be afraid to approach authors you recognize from books and blogs. Everyone is there to meet people. Look, even Kiersten White says so! (And we'll ignore the fact that Kirsten Hubbard talked to her while I stood off to the side, too shy to say hello.)

- DO: Make contact beforehand, on Twitter or forums, with agents and editors who will be attending. I met Jill Corcoran in the elevator, and because I had talked to her in #askagent a few days prior, it wasn't weird to introduce myself (despite the fact I had a quesadilla in one hand).

-DON'T: Make contact in some creepy way, like staking out agents' locations or showing up in their hotel rooms.

- DO: Be sure the author/agent/editor you're trash talking isn't standing nearby. Not every pro is on the faculty, clearly marked with a bright red name tag.

My food pwns Kristin Sr.'s food
- DO: Remember to eat.

- DO: Have a few drinks.

- DON'T: Get trashed.

- DO: Bring cash. Splitting a tab with 87 credit cards is a huge pain in the a$$.

- DO: Strike up conversations with random people. I didn't do this nearly enough. I didn't even manage to talk in person to all the people I talk to on the internet. And on a related note:

- DO: Mention your last name and/or blog title. I'm pretty sure I met Heather Trese three times and didn't realize she was that Heather until a week after I got home.

Photobucket - DO: Room with fun people!


  1. DON'T: Track down your friends editor and take a photograph with said editor and attach it to an email that says "sucks to be stuck at home". :p

  2. DO: Push Vee Roth into meeting Jay Asher and then run away. :D

  3. oh, such a great list of do's and don't's! I'm so terrified of ever going to something like this, it's not even funny! :)

  4. Elissa, I was terrified too, but after about two hours it was totally fine. It helps to have friends and travel in packs though. LOL

  5. Okay, A. we were totally going to photoshop your face into the picture with Claudia, Kathleen. TOTALLY. (And then we didn't.)

    And B. Kate, you are a total badass, because I would never have done that on my own and that would have been sad.

    Also: DO stay up really, really late in the hotel lobby, because the other people who stay up late are very, very interesting.

  6. Q.Q New York? Maybe? Because I may go to New York. And then I will apply all of these Do's and Don't's.

  7. EXCELLENT list!! I highly concur. Though how you fit that many people in your room is beyond me. LOL. Wish I'd met you there!

  8. That makes me feel better, Vee. Afterward I worried I was "that" girl. LOL

    Sumayyah, I'm thinking about NY. Not sure yet though.

    Lisa, I missed you too?! :( Next year we are DEFINITELY putting YA Highway stickers on our name tags or something-- something to make introductions easier!

  9. Oh and Lisa, we had two rooms, two to a bed. We're all pretty small but we're not that small!

  10. Gah, still can't believe I missed you!

  11. Okay, I'm getting over my fear of airplanes and coming next year :D

  12. These are great tips! Especially the "DO have a few drinks" (but "DON'T get trashed") I definitely had the most fun the night I had some liquid courage to go up to my favorite authors and fan-girl.

    And sorry about my fail! I should have mentioned it! But I guess for me it's weird to be like, "Hey, I'm Heather, I have a blog and everyone reads it!" When really "everyone" is like 100 people a day. I also think it's harder for me because my last name doesn't sound like how it's spelled, so even when I said it sometimes people don't make the connection. I think the better thing to do would for ME to have said something to YOU about how great I think YOU are, and then it would have been less awkward :)

  13. Katie, I know!! :(

    Kara, you definitely should. Find a fly buddy and come!

    Heather-- NOO! Totally my fault! You introduced yourself to me twice and I'm the total lame-o! LOL I just assumed no one knew who I was!

  14. Sounds like you had a blast, Kate! Curious: was this your first 'live' conference? I haven't made it to one, yet, but plan on making it a fiscal year priority.

    Thanks for sharing!


  15. EJ-- I've been to teaching conferences before, but this was my first writing conference of any kind. Even if the sessions had been a bust, it would have been cool just declaring myself a writer that way. :)

  16. Lol, it sounds like you had an awesome time--with potential for an even-more-awesome NEXT time. Thanks for sharing all the tips!

  17. This is the ultimate go-to list for the entire conference-attending, uh, industry. Is there one of those?

  18. Dang, you are good...this list is great and absolutely dead on (especially the chicken part). And I agree with V, the staying up late in the lobby was a must. YAHighway had such a strong presence, it was pretty cool to see.


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