Writing conferences are a great place for writers, whether accomplished in their craft or just starting out. At a writing conference, there are many outcomes that can be reasonably expected. In no particular order, they are:
- Networking: Conferences provide ample time to interact with other attendees, presenters, and the hosts. This can result in forging friendships, discovering new opportunities, and processing what you have learned with others.
- Meeting Agents: There are usually agents or publishers at conferences. Within the confines of decorum and common sense, there may be an opportunity to pitch your book idea. Most publishers no longer work directly with writers; instead, they use agents as a filter. I met one writer who had been to five conferences that year strictly to find an agent.
- Attending Lectures: A plethora of presentations will be offered. These are given by accomplished professionals (published authors, agents, professors, editors, and publishers). Often sessions are concurrent, so strategically map out your plan to make the most of what is provided.
- Buying Resources: Seemingly everyone will plug books and other resources; most will conveniently be available for purchase at the conference. Without a bit of restraint, it is all too easy to buy more resources then you will ever use; so buy wisely.
- One-on-one Consultations: Most of the speakers are available for a 15-minute consultation. These are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis – and many fill up quickly. This may be your most valuable time at the conference, so make the most of it. I recommend scoping this out in advance and determining who you want to meet; sign up as soon as it is permitted.
Encouragement: Conferences can lift up the discouraged or struggling writer. This is coupled with providing a healthy dose of industry realism. Although this can be discouraging, in the end, it will be helpful, saving writers from unwise decisions or wasting time on implausible efforts.
Last year I attended my first writing conference, which I had seen advertised in a magazine. At that conference, another one was plugged, which I also attended. Both were within reasonable driving distance, both were worthwhile, and both will see me again this year. I will share more about them in my next post.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.