11.2: How To Get The Most Out Of A Conference, with Kathy Chung

Kathy Chung runs the Surrey International Writing Conference, which is a professional development event, rather than one of the fan-run conventions, which are primarily reader and/or consumer events. She also helped us put together the 2015 Out Of Excuses event, where we were fortunate to witness her expertise first-hand.

Naturally, we invited her to talk with us about conferences and conventions. She’s easy to talk to, and she knows more about them than we do.

We cover some of the key differences between conferences and conventions (especially from the writer’s point of view,) and, per the subject, how to get the most of them.


Homework: Research conventions and conferences in your area.

My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, narrated by John Lee

11 thoughts on “11.2: How To Get The Most Out Of A Conference, with Kathy Chung”

  1. Interesting show. In my corner of the world, there are probably more opportunities for attending conventions rather than conferences, per se.

    Notebooks are good advice. Definitely a thing to have on hand.

    The 5-2-1 rule is useful to keep in mind at cons too. Get at least 5 hours sleep. Eat at least 2 meals a day. Take at least 1 shower a day.

    I also just finally wanted to mention a favourite book where every chapter is from a different POV, much like My Name is Red. Peter S. Beagle’s The Innkeeper’s Song switches POV in every chapter. It’s actually pretty astonishing, how it’s pulled off. I guess I don’t know whether I’d say that The Innkeeper’s Song a thoroughly successful novel on all counts (it’s not one of Beagle’s more famous works, after all), but it is worth reading just to see someone juggling POV in a thoroughly expert way.



  2. Oof, I definitely cringed during the “don’t get drunk” part, since several years ago I lost track of drinks at a conference and things didn’t go so well for that night. So yeah, I can attest fully from personal experience, if you drink at cons really, seriously watch yourself and if you’re not sure, maybe go back to your hotel room for an hour and see how you feel afterwards.

    Since then I pretty much don’t drink at conferences at all, better safe than sorry with that track record.

  3. Barcon is, for me, the highlight of whatever convention I’m attending (with the exception of GenCon Indy, which is an EXPO, at which I’m selling things all day.)

    I will build my schedule around getting enough sleep, and being well enough fed and psychologically rested, to be able to hang out in a noisy bar all evening and late into the night. I meet cool new people, and at most conventions that’s where all my friends are.

  4. Any tips for those of us who are not drinkers when considering barcon festivities? I am a fairly social person, but it seems a little more natural to approach groups glass-in-hand and I’m flying solo for the Con in general.

    This podcast couldn’t have hit at a better time as I am prepping to make a pilgrimage down to LTUE in a few weeks. It’s even got me wanting to go back and listen to some of the really early episodes when Dan and Brandon talk about their duo adventures at cons pre-publishing.

      1. @MaryRobinetteKowal

        Oh, if I had to pretend to be drinking alcohol to fit in then my time at University would have been WAY more awkward. I am probably just nervously thinking (wrongly) that a group of writers/agents/editors/conventioners would be different than approaching any other group of people. This, despite being beaten over the head otherwise through the seasons by you folks.

        How’s this for an opening line? “I thought the new Star Wars movie sucked, how about you?” This is, I assume, followed by either old fashioned fisticuffs or a West Side Story-style musical fight sequence.

    1. Hey Jared,

      No one in the bar seems to care who’s drinking and who isn’t, so a glass of anything non-alcoholic you enjoy will work fine.


    2. Jared – you can still hang at BarCon if you’re a teetotaler. Like Brandon said, just order a Sprite or something. I think BarCon’s basically a place where people can meet and hang out. It doesn’t have to carry the connotation that one has to imbibe.

  5. Wx Gang – you’ve done posts similar to this in the past, talking about Cons and whatnot. One of the aspects about this cast I enjoyed was the distinction you made among BarCon, Conferences, Workshops, and Cons. Very different. Also, I had no idea BarCon existed. Thanks for the info.

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