What not to do at conference:

July 18, 2007 | Karin's Blog | 35 comments

Before I begin, let me just say if you are guilty of any of the below just take this as a tough love blog. 🙂

Do not ask Nora Roberts if you can have some of her fairy dust. It’s hers, she earned it, and it’s rude to ask for some.

When at a social gathering hosted by your publisher (cocktail party, dinner party, or dance) do not ask your editor about back cover blurbs, if she is going to buy your next proposal or why she doesn’t return your emails. Again, while these questions have their place, social gatherings especially in front of others, is not the place to ask. Take a meeting or arrange a time to discuss business.

Do not ask an editor if you can kiss her feet. Do not bow to her. And do not call her Queen. It embarrasses them, it irritates them, and it makes you look like a fool.

Do not tell an editor your gory life story. They are not interested, and it makes you look…pathetic. Do not share feuds or gossip with them. It makes you look…small.

Do not rush up to Sue Grimshaw and introduce yourself while she is involved in another conversation. I think you know why.

Do not take advantage of a drunken author you just met and ask her for pitch advice, beg her to blog or ask her for an ARC.

Do not interrupt an editor during a spotlight with a condescending tone.

Do not throw up on an agent’s brand new shoes (okay, just kidding, I didn’t witness this).

Do not get in an elevator and cut a fart. It smells.

Do not take empty boxes and backpacks to every publisher (free) signing, grab four and five books at a time from each author then go sell them on ebay.

I know there are a few more Don’ts lurking in my memory banks but for now they escape me. How about you? Any pearls to share?



  1. Hubby

    “Do not share feuds or gossip with them. It makes you look…small.”

    How could anyone be so stupid, so high schoolish? They must still be reading Nancy Drew Mysteries…

  2. Karin

    My dear darling husband, as you know, stupidity runs rampant in all circles. Some more than others.

  3. Virna

    My don’ts are all of the “don’t be afraid to….” line: escape the crowds, approach someone new, etc. Boy, you saw some interesting things! I guess I was in too much of a daze to notice (though the fart would have been hard to miss).

  4. Jan

    Amazing that I witnessed a few of the ones you mentioned. 🙂 I’ll add one: Don’t argue with an agent (or editor) over their suggested changes to a proposal during a group meet, be it a large group or an intimate one.

  5. Amie Stuart

    Do NOT get shitfaced…and forget where you are. Just don’t.

  6. LaDonna

    Loved these, Karin. The fart one made me chuckle because I caught the whiff of a few. One was in a long line, and I think I turned green. All you think is, “Shit, how will the person behind me know it’s them.” Oh well. The only contribution I can think of is, comparing yourself to a very well-known author at a Q&A trying to finagle a request. Didn’t work, and I felt embarrassed by the effort.

  7. LaDonna

    Ah, the above effort was an observation, not something I did. Hell, I know better…thank God. lol. Where’s the edit button when you need it?

  8. spyscribbler

    This isn’t a tough-love sort of don’t, but I do wish that everyone would put their pictures on their business cards! I swore I would remember names and faces, but I’ve forgotten many, darnit!

    Another don’t: Don’t be an idiot and sign up to volunteer for twelve hours straight. If you do, wear comfy shoes, not matching shoes.

  9. spyscribbler

    (Oh! And sorry I didn’t get to meet you! I was busy during the literacy signing, so I didn’t get to meet tons of people I wanted to pop by and say hi!) Such a busy week!

  10. Lee

    One I experienced was, when someone approaches a table to join it and the seats aren’t all taken or saved, don’t send them to another table, because friends ‘might’ want to sit there. Only to leave them sitting completely alone at the next table throughout the presentation. Very rude, bad manners, high schoolish and clickish. I’ve left the group, because I left that behavior back over thirty years ago in high school.

  11. Cat

    I’ve seen this one listed as a don’t and couldn’t believe it happened. Don’t ask the editor giving the panel if a year is too long to have a manuscript at a house and when the editor asks if it was submitted to her, say yes.

  12. Karin

    it seems, ladies, we were all at the same conference last week.

  13. Amanda

    Karin, happy to know I was none of those don’ts. LOL My new fave: if someone looks scared to death at an appointment, don’t be afraid to help them breathe. I owe several people who came to my rescue, thank you very much.

  14. Lynn Raye Harris

    Don’t make the AGM last longer than necessary by standing up to ask a question for which the answer is already provided in the Hot Sheet. This happened more than once.

    Don’t bad mouth other authors/editors/agents when in public because you never know how far your voice carries. Or who of your “friends” wants to tattle.

    Be careful how swelled your ego gets, especially when you aren’t published and don’t have a contract in the wings. Too much self-importance is never a good thing.

  15. Karin

    lol, LaDonna, I know you didn’t mean you!

    Lee, I guess those chicks didn’t read my blog post before conference.

    Cat, I’ve seen that happen in person! Yikes. Editors never forget!!!!!

    Spy so sorry I didn’t get to meet you either! Day-um. I missed quite a few people I was looking forward to meeting.

    Amanda, you really must breathe, how else can you send that requested material?

    Lynn, I have never made an AGM, your description reminded me why. I’m a bad RWA member. 😉

  16. Karin

    Virna, your “Don’t be afraid” mantra was actually inspiration for another blog post of mine this week. Just not sure if I’ll post it here or at MSW.

    Amie, you were a very good goil.

    Jan, did someone really argue at a pitch session?

  17. Cele

    I am so amazed and then not phased at all that these things happen…but I will stand in line and say here here and echo Amie and Amanda’s thoughts.

  18. J. Carson Black

    Never eat too many fried shrimp po’boys at a romance convention or you *will* fart in the elevator.

  19. J. Carson Black

    Not that I did that, mind you. I left my farts in the hotel room. 😳

  20. Jan

    Yep, it happened, Karin.

  21. Edie

    When editors are taking questions at a publisher’s spotlight, don’t ramble on for about five minutes about your book. (And, no, that wasn’t me, lol.)

  22. Lynne

    OMG, y’all! The mind boggles.

  23. Karin

    Jake, I thought your eau de parfum was a bit on the crustacean side.

  24. Michelle

    I didn’t see much bad behaviour, but I did see a few acts of desperation that only harmed the person involved.

    Spy, it was lovely meeting you. I looked around for you after chatting to someone else and you’d vanished 🙁

  25. Karin

    OMG! I soooo wish I could tell two stories that have been broguht to my attention in the last 24 hours. Gawd! Talk about desperation killing you.

    Michelle, I’m jealous. I wanted to meet Spy. 🙁

    I have some work to send off to my editor today. When it’s off, I’ll be posting another national inspired blog.

    ciao for now

  26. Lynn Raye Harris

    LOL about the farts. I definitely thought twice before ordering anything with cabbage or peppers in it. 😉

  27. Lynn Raye Harris

    Oh, and as far as the AGM, I was a wide-eyed newbie conference attender and thought it was my duty to attend. Dear Lord, save me from such silly thoughts EVER again!! 😉

  28. J. Carson Black

    One more thing on farts, and then I’ll shut up. In my college years, our choir went on the road for two weeks. We were young, we were lively, we wore tight jeans, and we ate a lot of fast food, all of which culminated in the last concert of the tour in a roadside Baptist church. The choir was in two rows; the sopranos and altos in front and the baritones and tenors behind them on risers.

    I’ll only say this. On that day, the tenors and the baritones truly suffered for their art.

  29. Karin

    Lynn, as I have often said, I am a bad RWA member. I have never been to an AGM. Not even when that huge kerfuffle about graphic standards raised its ugly head. I did however send a very strong letter or two.

    Jake, you are very bad.

  30. spyscribbler

    I swear, I went through my schedule and tried to figure out how I could hang out at the bar more. Next year, I think I’ll need some tips on finding the time!

    It was great meeting you, Michelle! I looked around for you for the next couple days!

  31. Jaci Burton

    Karin, loved the list!

    It was great to meet you outside at RWA. And to find out I used to live only a few blocks from you. It really is a small world. Look forward to seeing you next year 😉

  32. Karin

    Spy Spy Spy, you must make the bar *part *of* your schedule*!

    Hey, Jaci! When I told hubby about you he about fainted. He didn’t think anyone knew about our poe dunk corn town. It was great meeting you too.

    Lynne, you must come early. Vedy early and do the bay area. We have Napa, Carmel, Monterey, oh and San Fran. 🙂

  33. Sylvia Day

    I miss Monterey. 🙁

  34. Lynne

    If I go to SF, I’m going to spas, doing sightseeing, and meeting friends. No writerly biz whatsoever. And I’m with Spy on hanging out at the bar. 🙂

  35. Amie Stuart

    I’m kinda out of my head so probably shoulnd’t be commenting but Lynn Rae…my CP said if you don’t have anything to bitch about or you’re not going to vote, don’t go. I took a nap. Or wait…maybe I went to the bar? 😀

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