October is like holiday season in the Pacific Northwest publishing world. We’ve got festivals, conferences, and parties galore, and we just can’t ignore the love in the air as authors chat about their new releases.

At any kind of show, you’ve got to be on your game to make the right kind of connections to benefit your writing and publishing career. Whether you’re planning to catch Wordstock (Oct. 8–9), the PNBA Fall Trade Show (Oct. 13–15), the Oregon Poetry Association Conference (Oct. 14–16), or another conference or festival in the near future, we’ve got eight tips to making the most of your literary show experience.

1. Stand Out: Black and white may look sharp in your dressing room mirror, but when everyone else is wearing the same monochromatic wardrobe, you’ll get lost in the crowd. If you want people to remember you, wear something bright. And if you’re at an event with name tags, stick it to your right shoulder—when you shake people’s hands, your name tag will be right in their line of sight.

2. Mom Was Right: Stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile. There’s no better way to say, “Nice to meet you.”

3. It’s All in the Cards: Take your business cards. It’s easy to forget this seemingly minor detail, but those little slips of paper are important! Be sure your card is professionally designed and printed (publishing folks can spot a print-at-home card from all the way across the show floor) and includes your email address and website.

4. Stay Awhile: Trade shows are all about making connections, so while that snazzy, whistle-blowing giveaway at the Church of Elvis booth may catch your attention, be sure to spend some time at booths that apply to your needs as a writer. Learn about the services or products and how they may benefit your writing career. Sign up to receive newsletters from the businesses that seem the most promising.

5. It’s Still All in the Cards: Ask for a business card from every person you meet. Take mental notes (or physical ones, if necessary) on who each person is so you can write a meaningful follow-up email the day after the show.

6. Samples: Take a sample of your writing. Some booths offer the opportunity to chat with an editor or agent about your book or story, and it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared. In fact, bring your sample by the Indigo booth for a free one-on-one consultation with an Indigo editor!

7. Get Off the Floor: One of the best parts of a trade show is the classes. Insightful instructors have set aside this time to share their most precious writing secrets with you, so pull up a chair and take some notes! It never hurts to ask insightful questions at the end of the session, and if it’s appropriate, feel free to follow up with the speaker via email.

8. Don’t Forget: Say hi to Indigo! We’ll be at booth #412 at Wordstock, Kristin and Ali will be coordinating activities at PNBA, while Vinnie will be teaching there, and Susan will be attending the OPA Conference. We’d love to swap cards and share show highlights with you.