What I Learned about Navigating Writing (or Fan) Conferences

I returned from a fabulous weekend at Malice Domestic. I had so much fun networking, seeing friends, meeting readers, and being a fan girl. (I got to meet Anne Hillerman and Chris Grabenstein this year.)

Here are some things I’ve learned to help navigate these events — whether your a writer or a fan.


  • You are going to do a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes.

  • Dress in layers. Conference rooms are notorious for being frigid.

Be Prepared

  • Make sure you have a bag for things you’ll need: bookmarks, business cards, promo materials, a notebook, and something to write (or sign books) with.

  • Have your elevator speech (1-2 sentences) ready about your book in case you’re asked.

  • Print a copy of all your registration confirmations and take them with you to make sure there’s no confusion.

  • Keep all of your receipts for meals/expenses for your taxes.

  • Read the conference agenda and plan what you want to attend. Some provide “conference at a glance” booklets to help you navigate, and others have an app for your phone.



  • Bring an extra bag or leave room in your suitcase for all the swag and books that you’ll collect. I went to the Kensington Books give-away and signing. They were so generous. My TBR stack tripled.

  • Many conferences have shipping centers, so you can send it all home if you need to.


  • Be professional always! You never know who is sitting next to you.

  • Check out the conference’s website for past pictures to get an idea of the dress code for the events. Some are casual, and some dinners are black tie.

  • Don’t start every conversation about your book. Be genuine. Be part of conversations. They’ll be plenty of time to talk about your book.