1. Plan ahead. Pace yourself.
Don't procrastinate all of this stuff until the week before the conference. Start planning now!
2. If you are planning on pitching, research the publishers at the conference and prepare your pitch!
Here are some great resources:
Also, the conference I went to did a series of blog posts where an agent/publisher said what an author should bring to a pitch session. This was very helpful! (And even if the publisher only requires the first few pages, bring at least the entire first chapter. They may ask for more!)
3. If you aren't pitching, still prepare an elevator pitch.
"What's your book about?" is a common question at writers conferences, from authors, publishers, agents, and vendors. People want to know! It's much better to have a plan than scream, run for the bathroom, or hastily change the subject.
For tips on how to write an elevator pitch, I highly recommend this link:
4. Bring a notebook, pen, or something to take notes with.
You're in a bunch of amazing classes, TAKE NOTES! Even if you hate taking notes, DO IT.
5. Bring spending money.
There's most likely going to be a bookstore featuring authors attending the conference. That means...signed books! And books in general. Yes, spending money is a must.
6. Learn to like coffee, tea, or anything caffeinated.
Writer's conference = no sleep
7. Bring a camera.
You're going to meet a ton of new writer friends! Pictures are a must!
8. Prepare to socialize.
Last year, I went to Realm Makers with the goal of meeting as many people as possible. Suddenly, I became an extrovert and actually started conversations. One time, I started talking to Patrick Carr's wife without knowing who she was. Then I looked at her name tag...
9. Make business cards with your contact info on it.
Your new friends are going to want to keep in contact with you/follow your social media! Make it easy for them!