Writers Conferences = Go!

Writer’s conferences are an underutilized tool for aspiring authors and writers in general. There are of reasons for this, I think.  First, unpublished writers often think conferences are intended for published authors, or for authors “further” along in their process than they are. Second, published authors dismiss conferences as only worth attending if they’ll have an opportunity to sell their books there.

I hear both of these comments on line – frequently. It’s unfortunate because those writers are missing out on a great opportunity.  I’m headed to another conference next month, and I wanted to talk about what’s involved.

What is a writers’ conference?

Writers’ conferences are held in hotels and conference centers across the country. They’re attended by writers, authors, agents, editors, booksellers and readers.  Conferences normally run Friday night through Sunday morning with plenty of variations in between, of course.

Conferences offer writers a chance to meet others people in their position, experienced professionals in the industry, and maybe even their favorite authors. Agents and editors mingle with attendees, hold panel discussing, host breakout sessions on various topics related to the publishing, and join you at the table for meals.

Can’t I do all that online?

Yes, and no. I’ll start with the no.

Attending a conference will impact you as a writer. Taking that step psychologically pushes you into the glorious realization that you are in fact, a writer. This thing you do is for real. You’re a writer. Say it out loud and let it sit a minute. You. are a writer.

Meeting agents and editors face to face is important for your career. It takes away the mystery and regal impression we get online of them as untouchable rockstars while we are mere peasants. I saw one agent, who I really admired from stalking her online, wearing the same black capris and cream scoop neck sweater I’d worn the night before. Apparently publishing royalty shop at Macy’s.

In addition to getting a real idea of who those fancy people are AND getting your mind around the truth that you are a writer, you get to pitch!

You don’t have to, but if you have a completed manuscript, why wouldn’t you? It’s an opportunity to spend one on one time talking about your book. It challenges you, gets you way out of your comfort zone and gives you the chance to make a connection with that person who can get your manuscript on shelves.

Ok, also there is great food, awesome raffles to win, fun games and gatherings in the hotel bar afterwards, and you are guaranteed to make new connections with other writers. Also, at the book sale/signing you can get pics with your favorite authors.

#Winning.

The other answer Yes – You can find online conferences. One that comes to mind immediately due to my YA fascination is called WriteOnCon. WriteOnCon is free and it is phenomenal. I met my agent there last summer. You can pitch. You can attend live chats about childrens lit, meet agents, editors, publishers, and there are forums. I heart the forums. Writers are encouraged to enter their pitch, or query or opening pages for critique in the forums. The feedback is nearly immediate and it comes from everywhere. My WIP last years is now complete and being edited, thanks to the input I received last year at WriteOnCon. The seeds planted that week really spun my ideas into a full fledged series idea. So, if online and free is the only way for you, it’s absolutely possible and awesome. Google around and see what you find in your genre. If you write for kids, MG or YA audiences, try WriteOnCon. It’s coming again this summer and they meet once a month for a live discussion too!

How much do the not free ones cost?

Writers’  conferences range in price from $50 to a few hundred for the weekend. The price includes meals, but doesn’t include hotel accommodations though most will offer a lower group rate during the weekend of the conference.

Google conferences in your area. There’s bound to be one within a few hours drive, and then GO. Go with friends, a spouse, or alone. Be brave. Go. You will not regret it. I feel obligated to warn you: You will be so amazed at the experience that you will likely attend two next year even if you have to sell your pets and consign your clothes to get there.  Enjoy!

1 comment to Writers Conferences = Go!

  • Ann

    Writers’ conferences are a wonderful way to network and pick up new info. We’re fortunate to have a free one at Weatherford College tomorrow. Looking forward to meeting old and new writing friends.
    Ann

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