OK, you’re probably tired of hearing about ALA, especially if you haven’t gone or don’t have plans to. But I want to finish up this series and then do a round-up post tomorrow, so that this’ll be available as a resource when you DO need it for ALA or another large conference.
#9: Mind Your Manners
Remember, you’re representing yourself (and your publisher) professionally. And you’re going to be around thousands of wonderful booklovers. So of course you want to be on your best behavior. A few reminders:
1) Introduce people. If you’re booth-browsing with one friend and another one walks up, introduce them to each other! This gets tricky if you’re like me and terrible with names. I meet people at conferences that I’ve known through blogging, through my online classes, because they’re local, because I like their work, or for many other reasons. And I have a terrible time keeping them straight. It’s embarrassing, but the best thing to do is just to admit, "I’m so sorry, but I’ve blanked on your name." Smile, laugh at yourself, and get on with the introduction.
2) When you make a faux pas, apologize and move on. It’s a long, embarrassing story that I won’t bore you with, but at the dinner after the Poetry Blast, I told fabulous poet Eloise Greenfield that I loved this particular book she wrote–but she didn’t write it. This was AFTER I had double-checked with other people that she did write that book. I wanted to sink through the floorboards. She was very gracious and lovely, however, and we had a nice chat. Luckily, I had also told her how I enjoyed Honey, I Love. One out of two isn’t bad, right? OK, it’s terrible. But what are you going to do? That’s right–smile, apologize, move on. Oi.
3) Stay out of the drama. At the ALA Banquet, we had major drama at our table related to who was sitting where and who had seats saved and so on. It was really important to me that I stay at the same table with Tanita Davis, her husband, and Sara Lewis Holmes. Two of those are Poetry Princesses (can you guess which two), and that Banquet was one of the very few times I would see either one. So I wanted to jump into the seating fray, but I didn’t. When someone else has organized things for you (our seats were obtained as part of a large group that bought seven tables’ worth of tickets!), you need to be a good guest and just go with the flow.
4) Say thank you. A lot. And maybe excuse me, too. It’s a hot, crowded, busy, intense several days. Use common manners to make everything more enjoyable. This also helps you stay out of the drama!
#10: Don’t Forget to Pack…
* Comfortable walking shoes
* Extra box or suitcase for books, if you’re driving
* Business cards or other small promo items to hand out freely
* Cell phone numbers of people you’re hoping to meet up with (And note whether they text or not –says the person who texted Nikki Grimes, who doesn’t text)
* Listing of which manuscripts have been seen by which editors, so if you chat with editors, you can remind them of previous contact you’ve had
* Listing of manuscripts/projects you have in progress — I usually don’t use this, but IF you end up in a great discussion with an editor who asks what you’re working on now, it comes in handy
* Lanyard/badge holder so you don’t have to clip your nametag to your clothes
* A copy of your book (even if you have no signings set up)
And I think that’s it! I’m going to add a few things to previous posts based on the comments. If you have any tips to add to this post or any of the previous ones, please leave them in the comments for me! Tomorrow will be the wrap-up post, and then we’ll be done with ALA 101. Thanks for all your good ideas and appreciation for this series.