- Periodically visit the event website for the final itinerary and to see if there are any new authors added to the roster.
- You should also sign up for the event's newsletters so you are notified of any significant changes.
One of the first things that I do when I’m preparing to attend a conference is download the itinerary if one is available. Most times if the itinerary isn’t downloadable you can print the page right from your computer screen in the browser settings. If the conference offers many different tracks it’ll be helpful for you to know what the focus of those tracks are. If the tracks are very different from one another, which most times they are, you should figure out what your main goal is for attending that particular event so that you know which sessions to attend. Otherwise, focus on the authors or activities that you find interesting. This would also be a great time to research some of the featured authors that you’re not familiar with and perhaps read their book so that you’re familiar with their work. Generally speaking, well known authors will draw your attention and make you want to attend specific literary conferences but you should always remain open to meeting authors that you’re not familiar with in order to expand your reading pallet.
- If some of the sessions or panel discussions that you'd like to listen to are occurring at the same time or overlap, figure out which one you'd like to attend the most first.
- It’s not mandatory that you stay put so consider attending a portion of the other session that you’re interested in so you can learn something about both authors, session or workshop.
- Most conferences start early and end late. Figure out the best time to take a quick nap in order to keep up if you need to.
- Don’t forget to leave time to network with book clubs and authors!
Usually you’ll be given an itinerary upon arrival at the event. Make sure you compare the final itinerary with what you have for any changes to speakers, room, and time changes. There’s nothing worse than to be in the wrong room at the wrong time because you didn’t realize that something has changed. Remember: the itinerary is never final until you’re FINALLY at the event - and even then there may be slight adjustments. You have to be flexible and just roll with it!
If you’re able to register the evening before be sure to do so in order to beat the crowd and so you don’t have to get there earlier just to stand in line. During early registration make yourself familiar with the layout of the conference by finding out where the rooms are located and how to get to them. (Even if you can’t register early you should go down to the conference area and make yourself familiar with where the rooms are located) If the conference is well attended and the rooms are small or you know that the session you’re interested in attending will more than likely be well attended, you’ll want to allot enough time to get to that particular room early in order to secure a seat.
If you know that you’re definitely going to purchase an author’s book and have it signed it’s best to purchase your book before you go into the session so you’ll be in the front of the line and able to move to your next session. If you’re bringing books to the conference to have them signed be sure to select your favorite book by the author but please do not bring all 17 books to be signed. Most authors don’t mind if they have time to sign all 17 books but it’s better to be courteous to others by not holding up the line to have all of your books signed at one time. Some conferences are good with instructing authors to speak for a certain amount and time and to allot enough time to sign books and others are more casual, which adds on time and can make you late to the next session. It pays to be strategic and know how to maneuver through each session so that you get to where you’re trying to go on time.