Monday, April 26, 2010

10 things I learned at this weekend’s American Society of Journalists and Authors NYC conference (April 23-25, 2010)

1. If you are at a loss for what to blog today, remember that people love to read lists.

2. People (readers, interviewers, the world in general) want salient quotes and relevant anecdotes.

3. At a conference, I have determined that you must make it your business to come away with gold you have mined from at least one workshop, connection or experience. At the end, you will have spent hours on hard chairs (unless there are no chairs left) in stuffy rooms listening to some you will not enjoy. And you will have spent a lot of money and time on this experience. You must make it your mission to leave with at least one significant thing that you feel will change the way you do things. For me it was social media expert and Columbia Journalism School dean and professor Sree Sreenivasan: @sreenet. A bounty of riches can be found at where there are links to his class notes, articles, videos, and more.

4. It’s probably time to buy and use a Flip camcorder. Video is now being submitted in conjunction with queries to editors to pump up the pitch.

5. Set Google alerts for all your fields of expertise so you are on top of all the breaking news. Scan Google news just before interviews to be sure you’re current, whether as interviewer or interviewee.

6. On Twitter: follow your editors and the people who represent your interests. And follow the people they follow.

7. On Facebook: Protect your privacy. You must revisit your privacy settings often to update because Facebook makes changes.

8. From @sreenet: Tweets, postings and comments of all kinds should be: helpful, useful, informative, relevant, practical, actionable, entertaining, fun, occasionally funny. Details of your personal life probably don’t fall into any of these categories.

9. Some well-known authors with popular blogs have cut back frequency of their blogs and they tweet (microblog) more with improved connectivity.

10. Tweet no more than 120 characters so there’s room for people to retweet your tweet and keep your tweets to about four or five a day, well spaced.

Bonus: Go to #ASJA2010 to read what gems others took away from the conference.


  1. Good list, Rae. I came away from the same conference with many of the same take-home points. For those of us who have been writing since electric typewriters, it's a different world now, but we old dogs are adept at learning new tricks, contrary to popular opinion!

    Joan Price

    Author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty

    Join us -- we're talking about ageless sexuality at

  2. Thanks, Joan, for your comment. I do like all the tools, too, but I want tools in context. I just completed the ASJA survey, with an impassioned plea to advocate more for writing articles than the 140-word tweet. I hope they understand what I'm saying...