My main purpose in going was to watch several of our authors in action: Dr. Laurence Shatkin, Dr. John Liptak, and Dr. Richard Deems, in particular. Dick Gaither and Dr. Bob Orndorff presented pre-conference workshops; and sadly, I didn't get to see much of them. But it was great to see three of our authors doing well-received presentations. I also enjoyed the two keynotes and several other featured speakers.
For the first time ever, I decided to live-tweet this conference (since I finally have a laptop with a battery that lasts all day and working wifi). What an interesting exercise that was! It was hard work keeping on top of the most relevant and interesting points from each speaker, packaging them into tweets, and trying not to make any errors of fact or grammar. I think I'd give myself a solid "B" for my efforts. I realized that it takes a lot of skill to do it well. And I wondered whether there might be a market for freelance tweeters to go around publicizing conferences. I think I would enjoy doing that. You can get a feel for what I learned by taking a look at my Twitter stream from last week.
A side benefit from the firehose of tweets I was sending out was that it raised my Twitter profile. A dozen or more people retweeted my tweets, asked questions, and made jokes while I was in the midst of reporting the conference. It made it an interactive exeprience for me, and it informed a lot of others who couldn't be there. I think I even got a few more followers as a result.
Unlike the other conferences I've been to, people were not as open to networking and didn't necessarily know who I was. That was kind of nice. Sometimes letting a bunch of professionals know that an acquisitions editor is in the house is like throwing chum on the waters. But I did make one new friend: Leslie Bell, associate director of the career center at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Coincidentally, Leslie is starting a blog for her career center; so I was able to offer some tips. She said I inspired her; and if that were the only good thing to come of my trip, it would totally be worth it.
I also connected with at least one potential author and talked about book ideas with an existing author. And you know what else was fun? The six-hour drive to Madison with my co-worker Bob Grilliot. He was there to connect with customers at our booth, so he had to rent an SUV to haul the books. It just so happened that the SUV was equipped with heated seats and satellite radio. So we cruised in comfort while reveling in New Wave tunes, deliriously oblivious to the certain death that would await us should we break down or slide off the road in the frozen tundra of Minonk, Illinois. For me, an enduring image of the trip will be watching the wind turbines turn to the rhythm of the Smiths's "How Soon Is Now?" Pure poetry.