If you are like most aspiring writers who are looking to publish your book, then you might think attending a conference is a waste of time. However, networking with your industry peers can play a big role in ensuring your book is a success.
One of the major expenses for a writer is going to writers conferences, writing seminars, workshops, and writing retreats. The benefits more then justify the cost if the right conference is chosen. Since it can be expensive, a writer will want to make sure it fully meets his or her needs. Following these tips will help authors get the most out of writers conferences.
Reasons to Attend Writing Conferences
If you are like most aspiring writers who are looking to publish your own book, then you might think attending a conference is a waste of time. However, attending an event with your industry peers can play a big role in ensuring your book is a success. But you must have a clear goal in mind before going.
Knowing the reasons one wants to attend a conference or workshop is the first step in choosing the best one. Is the main purpose to network with other writers? Is it to learn the craft? Is it to pitch a novel to an agent or editor? Or do you want to be motivated by the keynote speaker? Define the purpose, then choose a conference that meets those needs.
Networking With Other Writers
If the main goal in a conference is to network with writers then a local conference might be fine. Review the description of the conference, including the presenters. Check the schedule to see if networking opportunities are available, such as special dinners, award presentations, and no host networking meetings.
Take advantage of the opportunities to meet other writers, not just published authors, but also those that are at various stages along the journey. “One never knows how far these new relationships might develop, and what other connections they might bring” says business coach Alex Jones of the Coaching Institute. Business cards that include a current personal picture are helpful. A picture will jog the memory and help others to remember the writer.
Learn Writing Craft at Conferences
If one wants to go to a conference for learning opportunities, then check the schedule of speakers carefully. Some conferences are geared around a specific genre, such as romance, science fiction, or children’s literature. Some are more general, with writing seminars on many different topics.
Deciding what specific writing techniques one wants to learn at a conference will help in choosing one that meets those needs. Most writers’ conferences have websites that list the writing seminars offered.
Attend a Conference to Pitch a Novel
One of the great reasons to attend a conference is to advance your career. Editors and agents offer pitch sessions at conferences. Some are formal appointments, and must be arranged through the conference organizers. Others can be informal, such as during a meet and greet session. Again, check the conference guidelines to see which editors and agents will be attending and offering pitch sessions.
One should always prepare a pitch in advance for a conference. It should be short, succinct, and easy to remember. That way, a writer can talk about his or her work even when there is only a minute or two to share with an editor. One caveat: don’t stalk the editors. Use common sense as to when and where to pitch.
There are many advantages to attending conferences, and there are literally hundreds from which to choose. Shaw Guides is a well known online resource for finding writers conferences, retreats, and seminars. The listings include contact information and websites.
Some writers even combine conferences with vacations by choosing ones in other countries or fun locales such as the Maui Writers Conference, the San Francisco Writers Conference, or the Backspace Writers Conference in New York.
When time and money is at a premium, online conferences are an option, such as the Gotham Writers Workshop, the Muse Online Writers Conference, and the Gemma Halliday Summer Online Workshop Series. There are many venues available making conferences an excellent way to grow as a writer.