I’ve been to a fair number of writing conferences over the years. There is nearly always open question time for a presenter or two. There is also always those one or two people that take over the time.
They ask things like, “How do I get an agent?” or “How do I write a query letter?” or “How do I get editing for free?” or “How do I make millions of dollars on my memoir?” or “My word count is 300k, is that too high?” It’s not a good moment.
The questions themselves are not wrong. The wrong part is WHERE they are asking it at.
This is a conference. You have the opportunity to ask a question that is brilliant, nuanced, and full of content. Instead, many folks ask questions Google can answer.
So here’s my list of DON’T ask questions at a writing conference:
- Don’t ask something that the presenter isn’t specialized in or talking about. For example, don’t ask a Sci-Fi writer a Memoir question. It will make both of you look bad. Them for not knowing the exact answer and you for not paying attention to their presentation and bio.
- Don’t ask to have something repeated that was already in the presentation. Instead, ask for a specific clarification or offshoot.
- Don’t ask for free anything. Free publicity, free work, free book, free time… nope, nada, don’t do it. It’s rude and puts them on the spot in front of a group. They have to say no, otherwise they have to say yes to everyone.
- Don’t ask something you can Google the answer to. Genres, word counts, query letter structure… it’s all there. Hundreds of thousands of credible sites to help you with all those things. Google it yourself on your own time.
- Don’t ask a question that will take more than three sentences to answer. It’s rude to hog all the time for questions with one long, drawn out response.
- Don’t ask the same question to each presenter. It makes it look like you didn’t trust the expertise of the other presenters thus insulting them.
Key Point: Come prepared. Think things through. Use Google first.
Are you looking forward to any conferences? Hopefully this helps you be prepared for them.