Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Not To Do Wednesday - If I Were The Queen of the Conference

So, I just returned from a weekend writer's conference. And for once, I'm not going to share my gaffes and foibles. That doesn't mean there weren't plenty of my what-not-to-do's running around. But today, I'm taking a look at the gaffes and foibles of the conference planners. If I were Queen of the Conference (and wearing a Doric column crown)...

A.) What's with all the food that's served at these conferences? I mean, I like food as much as the next writer, but I don't need to eat every hour. Of course, if there's food around, even if I'm stuffed, I'll belly up to the trough with everyone else. I guess the theory is that if I don't fill up on words of wisdom, I can at least fill up on Danish and cookies and fruit. Oh, and nuts. And juice, water, and cokes. And that trail mix stuff. Mmmmmm.

Queen Cathy would cut out half the food and take 20 bucks off the conference price.

B.) Ever notice how repetitive these conference sessions can be? The names of the sessions may change, but the content stays the same. For example, let's say you're a children's writer and you attend the sessions having to do with children's writing. Do you really need 4 people to tell you 1. join SCBWI? Or 2. read lots and lots of books in your genre? Or 3. no, Cathy, I will not read your manuscript? Okay, maybe some of us do need four people to reiterate a point.

Queen Cathy would work with similar-subject presenters to ensure that conference attendees get a variety of information. (Gosh, that sounded impressive, didn't it?)

C.) Raise your hand if you've sat in a session and wondered how that presenter managed to get booked. You know the folks I'm talking about...they wander around all kinds of topics, except the topic on the name of the session. You listen carefully at first, thinking any minute, you'll glean some earth-shattering gem. But then your eyes glaze over when he or she dives into the next long-winded story about, well, you have no idea 'cause you've stopped listening.

Queen Cathy would ask for an outline, a proposal, heck, even a sticky note, with the information that a presenter intends to present. And send volunteers to each session to keep an eye on things. And report back. With a detailed account of the presentation. (Um, like a spy. But not a spy, 'cause that's kinda tacky.)

D.) Every time I attend a conference, some poor presenter can't get the computer hook-up to work- and the complete presentation is on power point. Audio-visuals usually keep me awake. Waiting for the AV presentation to start? Not so much.

Queen Cathy would have the baddest techno geek in the world at the conference. Just in case.

Yes, indeed, if I were Queen of the Conference, things would be a lot different. Starting with my identity. I wouldn't want crazy writers coming after Cathy C. Hall with a list of what-not-to-do's.