In book publishing, there are plenty of conferences to attend. As students, we drool at the stories about celebrity sightings and big prize giveaways at BEA. Some of us have the budget and time to make our way to some regional gems like AWP, and everyone can agree that the conference experience is an excellent personal and professional opportunity.
There are plenty of resources out there counting down the best conferences to attend, advising what to wear or how to prepare for networking and purveying the travel and calendar details. This list offers an inventory of the people you will meet at your next conference with tips about how to identify and interact. At your next conference, maybe see how many of these characters you can collect a business card from. Personality bingo, anyone?
- The Shy Author Sent to Schmooze Against Their Will
- The Intern Who Got a Pass Last-Minute
- The Drunk Publisher
- The Perma-Prospective New Hire
- The Book Hoarder
- The Drooler
- The Fanfiction Writer Who Will Make It Before You Do
Feel free to approach and chat this author up. It will be good for both of you, but do not ask them to describe “their creative process” unless you want to see lots of foot shuffling and squirming.
You can identify this character by the blazer that was obviously purchased this morning at the Macy’s across the street. Don’t let this person imprint on you! If you let them follow you around, you may end up answering lots of questions like, “When did you first know you wanted to be in publishing?” and, “What are the best and worst things about working in the book publishing industry?”
Sloppy behavior doesn’t look good on anyone, even CEOs in expensive suits. Conferences are not like Las Vegas—what happens at conference doesn’t always stay at conference. Feel free to talk or dance with this person, but don’t be this person.
Are you hiring? If not, you won’t get more than a handshake from this person. This individual can be recognized by an overeager “I’m a quick learner” smile.
This character will be easy to spot from across the hall. With multiple canvas totes overflowing with paperbacks and ARCs and a set of shifty eyes, this bookie considers the admission and travel costs as penance enough to snag a title from every book stack in sight.
We all have authors that are dear to our hearts, but few of us weep openly when given the chance to see them in real life. The Drooler is likely to leak from their eyes and/or mouth when within a certain proximity range of their celebrity writer of choice. If you happen to be attending a conference with this person, consider packing tissues.
You work hard. You work so hard in your field, and it really is going to work out for you. But not like it is going to work out for this person. They will be richer and more well known than any of us can even fathom, and they will likely spark the collapse of polite society as we know it. You will not be able to identify this person until their self-published manuscript is the push-title of one of the Big Five. Only then, when their face is plastered on every industry newsletter will you remember sharing an uncomfortable conversation about vampires with them in the hotel elevator.