Getting Ready for the Muse: A Few Tips and Tricks for Boston's Biggest Literary Conference

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The Muse & the Marketplace, Grub Street’s three-day massive literary conference, is happening on April 6-8, only a few weeks away (did you register yet?). Combining workshops and sessions on the craft of writing with extensive interaction with literary agents and editors, the Muse & the Marketplace was called the "The #1 writing conference in North America" by The Writer. With over 130 sessions and over 160 presenters, Muse is an opportunity for writers to learn and grow as artist, and to further their professional career.

It may seem daunting, especially for your first time there. But we asked two local authors, Jennifer Cox and Laura Rees, what kinds of tips and tricks they would advise to Muse-goers. Here’s what they said:

  • Plan your schedule ahead of time, but don't be afraid to change your plans day-of. And don't stress if you don't make it to a panel you planned to go to. You can grab the materials later on, or find out how it went from another conference-goer.
  • While it's almost second nature to go to panels or sessions whose titles or themes interest you, try to challenge yourself to attend at least one session in an area you don’t have experience in, or that may be outside of your genre or even comfort zone. What better place can you use to expose yourself to different writers and markets?
  • Craft sessions often start at the 101 level to suit everyone in the room, and chances are you'll know most of the introduction material if it's something you’re interested in or have studied. Try to get out of your craft wheelhouse, or attend a higher-level session.
  • Look less at the titles of the sessions and more at who's presenting or speaking. 
  • The breakfast is pretty legit, so make sure to get there early enough to enjoy it! The best way to start the mornings is to relax, eat pastries, and drink coffee while listening to the keynote speaker.
  • Sit up front if you can. It’ll be easier to hear, you’ll be more engaged, and you'll be more visible if you raise your hand to ask a question.
  • Don't be shy about talking to new people or to your favorite authors. They're there to engage with readers and would definitely love to hear about how much you appreciate their work. They may sign a book or two as well!
  • Additionally, talk to your fellow conference-goers, not just with presenters and agents. Fellow writers are your network.
  • It's a long day (or few days, if you’re attending the whole conference), so bring snacks, wear comfortable shoes, plan ahead for breaks, etc.
  • Don't pressure yourself to overdo it or to attend every single session. Even if you paid a lot of money, this experience is for you to enjoy. And it’s Ok to miss a session if you just need to rest.
  • Bring business cards if you have them, or some way to easily exchange contact info.
  • Have a one-sentence pitch for your novel. Literally everyone you meet will ask you what you're writing. Don't talk their ear off about it, but do the story justice with a great summary.

More information on The Muse & the Marketplace can be found here. If you’ve been a Muse-goer before, contribute some of your own personal tips in the comments below. Otherwise, we’ll see you at the conference!