San Francisco Writers Conference 2018 Guest Post by Cathy Turney
“Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles.”
—Bob Richards, Olympic pole vaulter and decathlete
Magic happens when you try to do the thing you didn’t think you could do. At any age.
It certainly did for a technophobic baby boomer who began writing in her “mature” adult years and ended up publishing three books and speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference—about Twitter (Twitter!). Yes, that would be me.
Get Thee to The San Francisco Writers Conference!
If you’ve ever thought about writing, you need to go to writers conferences. There is no better way to get the total publishing picture, from both sides (traditional and self-publishing), for all genres, for promotion on all relevant social media. Attending conference presentations and one-on-ones with industry gurus not only sets you on the path to your goal but forms connections: instructors will likely remember you and possibly mentor you after everyone goes home. The best of the best is the 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference from February 15 to 18, and there’s still a wee window of time to enroll.
Many writers are introverts, which is not a bad thing (as confirmed by the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking). But you get so much more out of conferences if you just talk to people. As author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy suggests, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
How to Start a Conversation at a Writers Conference
So how do you overcome shyness at a conference and start a conversation?
The first step is to choose a target—another bashful person. How do you know someone’s bashful, or at least reticent? Because he or she is standing in line for registration, coffee, session sign-up, not talking. You will rescue that person, who will believe that you are one heckuva confident guy or gal because you had the nerve to break the ice. Just turn around, smile and say, “Hi. What’s your genre?” (Don’t use that line at the bar.)
If your target is wearing a name tag and does not have exposed cleavage, look at it and say, “Oh, you’re from Fresno.” S/he’ll respond with something that might then direct the conversation, at which point you can ask what brought that person to the conference.
And then let the person talk.
Congrats! You just began a conversation. Others will turn around and look on with awe and you can bring them into the chat, too.
Other questions you can ask: Are you going traditional or indie? Who’s been your favorite speaker so far? Have you read Cathy Turney’s book on Twitter? And if you fear you misspoke in some way (which you didn’t, because if nothing else other people will think how kind you were to reach out), remember: there’s nothing shorter than the public’s memory.
When you run into a speaker whose presentation you loved (wearing a name tag signals that speaker is approachable—unless s/he’s sprinting to the next session), say “Hi!” and venture a quick question. The presenters are friendly. They would not be at the conference if they didn’t want to meet potential clients such as yourself. If you have a business card, give it to them because when you approach them after the conference they’ll be more likely to remember that you bonded.
Why I live for the SFWC
I live for the San Francisco Writers Conference. I come away from it each year and thank heaven I learned that, be it the latest in self-publishing and marketing, better ways to build my platform, or different writing techniques, not to mention getting to meet the authors and publishing leaders I admire from afar. Here are a few presenters I’ll be bonding with at SFWC 2018:
- Rusty Shelton—marketing genius behind Chicken Soup for the Soul (and many brands), who overcame my resistance to Twitter in five minutes and started this technophobe on the path to proselytizing about it—who’d ever have thought?
- Linda Lee—WordPress genius who magically tweaked my writer website into one that even millennials love.
- Frances Caballo—social media interpretress who, I swear, knows everything and every program associated with the subject. And what to do with it.
Jody Rein—literary agent supreme, who shares gold nuggets of advice from her years of putting authors on the New York Times best-sellers list.
- Jim Azevedo—Smashwords marketing director whose can-do attitude has launched countless writers into self-publishing. And he’s a really nice guy!
- Penny Sansevieri—prolific author and disseminator of “Red Hot” marketing, media and publicity tips for writers.
- Barbara Santos—marketing maven and author whose aloha spirit is felt in every aspect of the conference, along with her husband, Rich, who keeps SFWC’s website, email and every other “technicality” working.
- Laurie McLean—conference co-director and founder of Fuse Literary, which has published numerous best-sellers.
- And, of course, Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada—founders of SFWC, literary agents, and icons of the publishing world who bring us, their disciples, up to speed on the make-or-break information we need to succeed as authors.
(to name a few.)
Twitter Tips for Conference Goers
Most conferences use hashtags to communicate with others at the conference, during the conference. It’s a great way to make new connections and develop online relationships, supporting each other in your respective work. You can quote a conference speaker in a tweet and the hashtag (#SFWC18) will help people at the conference find your tweet.
Hashtags aggregate conversations so that the tweeter can channel her post into streams where it will get the most interest. Or where people looking for a particular topic can go to view posts about it. An analogy would be a party, where clusters of attendees are discussing different topics and each chat cluster has a bubble with a hashtag and word in in it denoting their topic. For instance: a group chatting about food would be #food, one talking about kids would be #kids, and so forth.
San Francisco Writers Conference’s hashtag is #SFWC18. Once the conference begins it will become a raging river. Attendees will use it to arrange meet-ups, to share conference information with others who aren’t attending, to post photos and shout-outs to their favorite speakers, the possibilities are endless.
Quote your favorite speakers and tag your tweets with #SFWC18. In addition, see if you can locate the speaker on Twitter and tag them with the @ symbol. For instance, to quote Frances Caballo, include “via @CaballoFrances” in your tweet, as well.
For the San Francisco Writers Conference, remember to end your tweets with #SFWC18.
Before flying off, I’d like to say don’t let Twitter intimidate you. There is so much about it that you don’t even need to know about. Relax. Focus. You can quickly build platform and share your product or service with thousands instantly. And if you attend the San Francisco Writers Conference please attend my session, “Twitter—Why? Why? Why?” I’ll follow you everywhere!
Join me at the San Francisco Writers Conference—I promise there will be magic.