Packing Checklist for a Writers Conference

SleuthFest 2020 is on the horizon March 26-29, and I’m already gathering materials for what I’ll need to bring. Writers’ conferences require advance preparation, especially if you’ll be speaking on a panel or giving a writing workshop. You’ve already determined your goals in participating, some of which may be referenced here: https://nancyjcohen.com/benefits-of-writers-conferences/

Aside from determining your objectives—i.e. attending specialized craft sessions, learning about new publishing options, meeting editors, making new author friends, greeting fans—there’s the physical prep. Here’s a checklist of things to bring. (Note – This is an update to a previous post.)

Writers Conferences

Prepare for your talks. If you’re a panelist, it can be easier because you might not have to do much prep other than jotting down some notes about the points you want to get across. Moderator-run panels in general mean more work for the moderator but less work for the panel guests, unless you are each expected to present your material for xx minutes.

If you are conducting a workshop on your own, you’ll need to compose or update your material, prepare a PowerPoint presentation if desired, and make copies of handouts. Sometimes the conference coordinators will offer to make the copies for you. Bring your laptop or thumb drive with these files and another flash drive for backup.

If you’re speaking on different topics, assemble each handout in a separate manila envelope to keep them organized.

Order business cards unless you have them already in stock. Consider updating them with QR codes or with your social network URLs.

Design, order, and pack brochures, bookmarks, and/or postcards about your books. Bring along display containers so they don’t get strewn across the promo tables. That’s assuming your conference has space available for this purpose. If not, you can hand them out at your workshop or as you meet people one-on-one.

Design, order, and pack swag for the promo tables or goody room. These are items such as magnets, pens, door hangers, candy, and other giveaways. If you are driving, toss a box of extra books into your trunk in case the on-site bookseller doesn’t get your books in time or is unable to obtain copies of a particular title.

Bring a checkbook in case the bookseller offers to sell you leftover stock at a discounted price. Bring cash for raffle tickets, drinks at the bar, gratuities and other incidentals.

Pack a book or two to display at your presentations and panels.

Bring a copy of your receipts showing your registration and any other special paid events.

If you’re donating a raffle basket, either get your materials to the coordinator ahead of time or bring the basket prepared and ready to go.

Bring a signup sheet for your newsletter to circulate at your workshop and to put out at signings.

Print out the conference workshop schedule and highlight your appearances. List these on your website and other online sites and include these papers in your suitcase.

Bring a highlighter so you can go through the conference schedule and mark sessions you want to attend.

Print out contact info for friends you want to meet at the conference.

Decide which outfits to wear to the different events. Business attire for daytime, dressier clothes for evening? Don’t forget matching accessories.

Determine which gadgets to bring along—iPad or Laptop? Kindle or Nook? Camera to take photos for your blog? Charging devices?

Pack a notebook to take notes if not using an electronic device for this purpose. Later, write blogs about the sessions you attended to share your knowledge. If you intend to paraphrase a large portion, ask permission of the presenter at the end of their session. Or send an email afterward stating your request.

Include Sharpie pens for signing books and ballpoint pens for note taking.

If you belong to a professional writing organization, bring along chapter brochures to hand out to potential members.

What else would you add to this list?

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