How Writer’s Conferences are like Beauty Pageants

Don’t hate me because it’s true. Settle down. Read on. You’ll see why writing conferences… (and most conferences in general) are like beauty pageants.

To lend a little credence to this post, I’ll add that I’ve participated in two pageants and watched many, many others. I served as a Fair Court Princess and Miss Teen Rodeo WA 2005. I’ve even judged three pageants and coached several young girls through the process. 

1. Your smile is everything. Not just your smile, but the genuine emotion behind it. Going through the stressful days of a pageant/conference is so much more bearable with a smile. So show off those pearly whites.

2. Your schedule and appointments are pre-determined and controlled. During a pageant/conference, you have structure, expectations and a lot to accomplish. Part of that is a relief, as everyone is going through the same hoops. Part of that is stressful, so if you can, deviate and get whatever rest and quiet time you need.

3. Everyone is always watching. Okay, not really. But people notice things you might not expect them to. Agents and editors notice which writers attend and which writers take this business seriously. Conferences/pageants are extremely interconnected so people hear things rather quickly. Be on your best behavior!

4. You will be put on the spot and expected to answer questions. There might not be a stage and bright shining lights at a writer’s conference (unless you’re a speaker), but you must be able to convey your novel’s premise in a concise manner. You must also let your personality shine through.

5. The bonds you form during theses experiences can be unbreakable. Sappy moment inserted here: the pageant/conference gathering is a time when you’ll meet new people, strengthen old friendships and bond on a new level. Live it up. Treasure it. Keep those connections going through social media after the pageant/conference.


Most pageants have the following “categories” – followed by the conference equivalent.

1. Knowledge (of organization/sport/region you’re representing)

—- Know your book, your writing, your audience, your genre and the current market for your genre.

2. Personality

—- People will remember you if you are genuine, humble, authentic and real. Don’t put on a false face. 

3. Appearance

—- No one cares what you’re wearing, but it must be appropriate. Don’t let it be distracting, but let it show you and your personality. Don’t overdo the makeup. Be natural. And if you’re Chip MacGregor, wear a kilt at least once. 

4. Talent

—- Bring samples of yourwriting. Be ready to send proposals if requested. Your writing is your talent and this is your time to let it shine. 

5. Sales

—- Yes, sales is a category in pageants too. Selling ads is no different than selling your manuscript or published book. Sales flow naturally when you have a quality product and memorable personality. 

Despite public perception, it isn’t always the prettiest, the most plastic, the richest contestant that wins. In most every pageant I’ve seen, personality and heart triumph. Will you let your own heart shine through at your next conference? 

Do you agree or disagree with any of this? Keep the pageant/queen bashing to a minimum please, but I’m anxious to hear what you all think. 🙂

— “has been” Princess Nikki 


More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks

  • Jessica Johnson

    Never been to a pageant, but I’ve been to writer’s conferences. Great advice!

  • A.L. Harris

    I definitely agree with much of what you’re saying. I’ve participated in writer’s conferences and a pageant as well, but never thought about the ways they are similar. Nice post!