Last week, I began this three part series on attending writer's conferences as teenagers. You can read the first part about being prepared here.
|I did everything I could to avoid getting lost : )|
Often times, teens worry about being taken seriously by adults. I wanted my writing to be compared to that of experienced adults. I was attending this conference to show my work to adults and didn't want any special treatment for being "the teenager" as I was refered to.
One of the speakers took time in a workshop to talk about professionalism. In a room full of adults, she pointed to me and said, "Alyson is a perfect example of a professional." Some adults even clapped. I was surprised, not realizing how much others had noticed the choices I made to be more professional. Here's what I did and my advice to you.
|I wore this sweater because it had pockets to hold my business cards.|
As a teenager, you can do little things to put off the unprofessional stereotype. Put your phone away and wear a watch instead. Be extra polite, smile and hold the door for others. When you are eating with others, offer to take their trash. Be the first person to start up a conversation. These things go a long way.
When I work in my dad’s law office, professional means skirt and nice shirt. So that is what I wore to the conference the first day. Not many people were in a skirt, however. Many were in dress pants, and some wore jeans or shorts. But I decided to maintain the bar I had set for myself and stick with the dress I had been wearing. I encourage you, especially as a teenager, to dress more professionally than you think is necessary. If you wear pants, choose a nice shirt and shoes to go with it. Please, do not dress up and neglect the shoes. They make an impression too.
No matter where you are, in an appointment, in a workshop, eating a meal or just standing in the hallway, carry yourself well. Eye contact means you are comfortable talking to an adult. Sitting with your back straight means you are confident. Speaking slowly and clearly means you care about the conversation. When you listen, it means you care about the person. Being on time shows them that you value their time. Think also about the little things that could lead people to believe that you are too childish to write a book, even though this may not be true. For me, it meant changing my Captain America wallpaper on my laptop to something that was still my personality, but more mature.
Remember that agents and editors have to work with you too. If they think that it will be a challenge to work with you on a professional level, why would they jump at the chance to represent your book?