What to take to a writers conference

Not long to go now! The annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference is only a week away.

Last week I gave some introvert survival tips for conference goers, this week I’m talking about what to take (or what not to take, as the case may be).

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Things to take to RWAus 2014:

  • Business Cards: don’t think business cards are only for published authors, they’re not! If you happen to chat with someone while waiting in line for a drink and they ask you what your website or Facebook page is, you can give them a business card. People are more likely to hang onto a card than a scrap of paper.
  • Flat shoes: Yes, I love my high heels too (and do pack a pair for the cocktail parties) but flat shoes will be a lifesaver for the long days you spend going from workshop to workshop and hanging around talking to people.
  • Carry-on luggage and checked luggage: Here’s a little secret about conference…YOU GET A LOT OF BOOKS!!! You need space to bring them home.
  • Camera: You don’t want to meet your favourite author only to realise you don’t have a camera with you.
  • Phone/iPad/Tablet Charger: This seems like an obvious one, but put it on your list anyway.
  • Something to write with: Whether you prefer pen and a notepad or a tablet/laptop, it’s important to have something to take notes on. This isn’t just for workshops but for any ideas that spring up thanks to all the additional creative energy, and to jot down the details of those you meet (in case they haven’t brought their business cards). I generally take a notepad and pen because laptops can be heavy and take up a lot of luggage space. I also found last year I didn’t do any writing in my room, too busy having fun!
  • Something unique: I think it’s a great idea to have something unique with you that will stand out and make people remember you. It might be a flashy necklace, a cute headband or a stuffed llama. I always remember the people that wear statement jewellery or bright shoes – every little bit helps!
  • Water, Panadol, hydrating eye cream: This is my ‘anti-tired’ kit. By Sunday afternoon I want to crawl in bed and sleep off the exhaustion but I also don’t want to miss out on the fun. The water can be bought at the hotel or in a nearby shop, but I HIGHLY recommend keeping hydrated. Hotels can often have air conditioning running and it can make you feel really sluggish and headachy.


In the interest of saving space, here are some things that I would strongly consider whether or not to take:

  • Books for signing: I know, there’s a huge signing and your favourite author is going to be there. But books take up space (and weight!) and you’ll be bringing a lot home with you anyway. Do you really need extra book weight in your suitcase?
  • Your manuscript: The rules for pitches (and general conference etiquette) is that you provide our manuscript electronically after the conference if you get a request. Having printed copies of your work on hand won’t make your chances any better and they’ll just take up extra space in your luggage.
  • Multiple pairs of shoes: Honestly, I put this in as a reminder for myself. Find one pair of heels that matches all the nighttime outfits and leave it at that.
  • Laptop: see the above comment on taking notes.


I hope this post is helpful for those getting ready for conference, what are you going to take with you?

6 Responses to “What to take to a writers conference”

  1. Carol C says:

    That’s a great list! It’s so comprehensive I can’t think of anything else to add except to pack a great sense of humour and a willingness to be inspired. :-)

  2. Susanne Bellamy says:

    Well said, Stefanie!
    About those books you get at conference – I won a picnic basket full of books at my first ever conference in Melbourne. Fortunately, Virgin were very obliging and let me carry it on board without extra cost. I did mention I’d just won it in the firefighters’ charity auction but still, it was very kind of the airline staff.

    I’d just add hard lollies to suck; too much water and a majority of women delegates can lead to long queues at the ladies. When I’ve also stayed at the conference hotel, I tried to return to my room instead of using the public conveniences.

    Hope to see you there!
    Cheers, Susanne

    • Stefanie says:

      Wow, that is lucky. I always struggle with the luggage limit! That’s so true about the toilet line, I ducked up to my room a few times for that reason last year :)

  3. Dana R. Lynn says:

    Love this Stephanie. Great advice for when I go to the ACFW conference in September.

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