I’ve just returned from a great weekend away at the Malice Domestic conference where Mary Higgins Clark received a richly deserved lifetime achievement award. From the first moment I met her in the elevator I was struck by both her graciousness and her humility. In all her speeches and panels she provided wonderful advice with an air of total professionalism. She was, in short, a class act.
Although almost everyone else I encountered was similarly professional I did witness, on occasion, behavior that convinced me it was time to address the delicate subject of ‘conference etiquette’ (or as I like to subtitle it ‘how not to make an ass out of yourself’). My draft rules of etiquette (and believe me, I’m hoping for your comments to add and refine these) are as follows:
- Remember, if you happen to be a published author of any ilk, that arrogance like pride, usually comes before the fall. I couldn’t believe how some authors treated aspiring authors (or even other published authors) with barely concealed disdain – as if that somehow made their work seem superior. I know it’s a cut-throat industry but dissing others will not get you ahead.
- Remember that marketing does not include foisting your book on a reader without their permission. I was actually at a session where I was told to ‘write my name’ on a slip of a paper only to realize (I was never told) that this meant I was now in an enforced raffle for someone’s book who was not even a participant on the panel I was attending…People need to be asked if they want your book or marketing material….
- Remember the basic common courtesies – don’t push in, cut people off, ask rude questions (and yes, demanding to know some person’s print run may constitute a rude question if they don’t know you!) or crash other people’s parties.
- Smile and be generous to those who are waiting on you at functions, serving you coffee, helping with the AV or volunteering. The snafu is rarely their fault…
- When on a panel do not hog the mic, be rude to the moderator or generally act as though you are far too superior to impart your esteemed knowledge on the attendees (believe me, I actually saw all three occur!)
- Remember the unwritten code of published and unpublished authors – we’re in this together – so never denigrate, belittle, bitch about or undermine a fellow to author to anyone else, least of all an editor or agent!
So those are some of my initial rules… What would you add or amend? What conference faux-pas/ breaches of etiquette/ acts of unbelievable rudeness have you ever witnessed?