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View Full Version : Writing Conferences: Yea or Nay?



Regan Leigh
09-24-2009, 06:57 AM
I've never been to a conference. Are they worth it? If so, which ones are viewed as the best or most helpful?

MGraybosch
09-24-2009, 07:10 AM
I've never been to a conference. Are they worth it? If so, which ones are viewed as the best or most helpful?

I've never been to one myself. I had always to be one to go it alone; the only real help I had had as a writer was my wife.

suki
09-24-2009, 07:24 AM
I've never been to a conference. Are they worth it? If so, which ones are viewed as the best or most helpful?

Wow. Broad question. Depends what you are looking for, and what stage you are at in your writing, and your preferred writing genre...and, ultimately, the conference and your ability to throw yourself into it.

I write mostly YA. So, I joined SCBWI and have gone to regional and a national conference. I have found both helpful and worth the money I spent to attend.

At the National conference I attended some great sessions on craft and on what agents and editors are looking for/seeing. I met some other writers and obtained two helpful critiques. And I got to get a taste for the competition in my market.

At the regional conferences it's more about connecting with my regional members, hearing a little more about craft (though with less options for sessions) and getting some more critique.

None of them have as of yet led me to an agent or editor, but I think all of the conferences moved me closer to those goals by helping me to learn and grow as a writer, and make connections with peers so I have some support systems for my writing.

One of the big things SCBWI conferences do for unagented writers is (usually) get you a window of opportunity to submit manuscripts to some closed publishing houses without an agent. Now, it's still a way uphill battle to get through slush, but it's an opportunity.

BUT, a lot of people think conferences are the magic bullet - ie, they go and they will sell their book. I haven't found that to be the norm. But, it has happened, and the critiques are helpful.

So, if you want to learn, about craft and the market, and meet other writers, and meet some agents and editors, knowing that the chances are still fairly slim that you will sell a book/land an agent because of attending, then they can be worthwhile. And some people do land agents or get in with editors because of conferences. But you need to decide why you would be going and if the cost is worth it.

Overall, I have found the conferences I have attended helpful, but not magic passes to publishing. And I have found that you only get out of them as much as you put in.

~suki

Regan Leigh
09-24-2009, 07:32 AM
Wow. Broad question. Depends what you are looking for, and what stage you are at in your writing, and your preferred writing genre...and, ultimately, the conference and your ability to throw yourself into it.

I write mostly YA. So, I joined SCBWI and have gone to regional and a national conference. I have found both helpful and worth the money I spent to attend.

At the National conference I attended some great sessions on craft and on what agents and editors are looking for/seeing. I met some other writers and obtained two helpful critiques. And I got to get a taste for the competition in my market.

At the regional conferences it's more about connecting with my regional members, hearing a little more about craft (though with less options for sessions) and getting some more critique.

None of them have as of yet led me to an agent or editor, but I think all of the conferences moved me closer to those goals by helping me to learn and grow as a writer, and make connections with peers so I have some support systems for my writing.

This is what I'd be going for. I didn't realize the conferences were even a potential place to find an agent or sell a book. I'm still in the editing process with my WIP.

One of the big things SCBWI conferences do for unagented writers is (usually) get you a window of opportunity to submit manuscripts to some closed publishing houses without an agent. Now, it's still a way uphill battle to get through slush, but it's an opportunity.

BUT, a lot of people think conferences are the magic bullet - ie, they go and they will sell their book. I haven't found that to be the norm. But, it has happened, and the critiques are helpful.

So, if you want to learn, about craft and the market, and meet other writers, and meet some agents and editors, knowing that the chances are still fairly slim that you will sell a book/land an agent because of attending, then they can be worthwhile. And some people do land agents or get in with editors because of conferences. But you need to decide why you would be going and if the cost is worth it.

Overall, I have found the conferences I have attended helpful, but not magic passes to publishing. And I have found that you only get out of them as much as you put in.

~suki

Thanks for the help! I suppose I need to find my genre before looking into this more. (Literary? Contemporary? Book club fiction? ;) I'm not sure where I'll fit.)

suki
09-24-2009, 07:39 AM
Thanks for the help! I suppose I need to find my genre before looking into this more. (Literary? Contemporary? Book club fiction? ;) I'm not sure where I'll fit.)

Ok, knowing you are looking for some more info on craft, maybe some critique and networking, I say yes, if you can afford a conference without causing yourself financial stress, then they can be great. Ask around for recommendations.

I had it somewhat easy with YA, because SCBWI seems to be the more well known group/conferences for me.

But if you write for adults, and not a specific genre (romance, science fiction, fantasy, etc.) then I think you should ask around for some other people's experiences with specific conferences - specify your level, what you are looking for, region, cost, etc. And see what people have to share.

You can also find conferences more geared toward revision, more geared toward publication and more geared toward craft. So, look around.

good luck.

~suki

Madison
09-24-2009, 07:05 PM
YEA.

I went to the PNWA conference in Seattle last summer and it was the best $500 I've ever spent in my life. I learned soooo much. Met so many people. Pitched to an agent and an editor (not that well, but I'll do better next time :) ) And again, learned so much. It completely changed the way I write -- for the better.

If you have a chance to go, you should sign up now. Conferences are great.

KTC
09-24-2009, 07:42 PM
As somebody who is on the organizing committee/board of directors for a writers' conference...I say Yea.

But seriously. We are working tremendously hard at every detail of the conference we are putting together...and I imagine most are the same. When working on organizing it, we all think as writers--what would we want? Then we work diligently to that end...bringing everything together to fulfill our own conference fantasies. We have workshops, panel discussions, blue pencil sessions, guest speakers, etc, etc. From being on the planning side of things----I know that our conference is going to be well worth attending. I'm excited about getting everything just right for the writers who will attend.

The Grump
09-24-2009, 08:02 PM
Money's always an issue with writing conferences ... so I have limited experience.

I've gained a lot of insights into the process of writing from the Northern Colorado Writers [<http://www.northerncoloradowriters.com/ >], our local group. Each spring, they hold a conference with agents, editors, and other professionals giving two days of workshops.

Networking with your fellow writers at meals is also valuable. I found a couple of critiquers for my WIP. (I also found a couple wonderful beta readers for another project which is further along here.)

Don't know much, but ... I get the impression that conferences would be most valuable when you have a project close to marketing.

DeleyanLee
09-24-2009, 08:16 PM
It depends on what you're going to the conference for and which conference you choose to attend. Go to the wrong conference, and you'll be frustrated, angry and spend money you otherwise shouldn't've afforded, which can make matters worse.

There's many reasons for choosing to go to a conference. Connecting with people (writers, editors, agents, just people in general), learning opportunities, promotion, accepting awards, teaching opportunities, parties, meeting up with on-line friends--as many different reasons as there are people who go.

What I've discovered is that my enjoyment of a conference is always related to how honest I am with myself for why I'm going. Sometimes I greatly adore a conference (the Pike's Peak conference was fabulous) and sometimes I'm so disgusted by the experience, I vow I'll never do another conference (World Fantasy) because I went for the wrong reasons to the wrong conference and my expectations weren't realized.

If you haven't been to a writing conference, I strongly advise you to look into them. They can be the most energizing, best time ever spent. Just know why you're choosing to go to this conference and choose one that has the potential to give you want you're looking for. Conferences are different, with different focii, and are not "created equally" for every attendee.

Hope that helps.

Phaeal
09-24-2009, 09:44 PM
I go to Worldcon when I can afford it. World Fantasy Con, too. But those, while writer-tilted, are also for fans, so they're party central. Not that writers can't party all by themselves. ;)

Agree with above -- before you go to any conference or workshop, do your research. Find out exactly what's on offer. Contact former participants, if you can. Especially while looking into workshops, which generally call for a larger investment of time and money.

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:49 PM
I'm in. I say we all go.

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:49 PM
Meeting me would be worth any amount of money.

Cassiopeia
09-25-2009, 01:07 AM
I am attending my first conference next May. It's The Ontario Writer's Conference (http://www.thewritersconference.com/) that Kevin has in his signature. Even though I'm going to travel all the way from Utah to there, I'm so excited I can't stand it. I'm very much impressed with the organization and offerings of this upcoming year.

Kevin, my only complaint is, there isn't enough time for me to attend every single thing you are offering and I'm petulant about it. How am I meant to choose? ;-)

Perks
09-25-2009, 01:15 AM
I think they're great, if you can afford the cost and the time. They won't necessarily (or even likely) make you a better writer, but they are very informative to workings of the business side of the equation and for meeting people.

I particularly like the Killer Nashville Literary Conference. It's geared towards mystery, suspense, and thriller writers, but just about anyone can enjoy it.

Here's my little write-up of this year's event. (http://jamiemason.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/i-just-flew-in-from-nashville-and-boy-are-my/)

Regan Leigh
09-25-2009, 01:23 AM
Thanks for all the great feedback! I'll dig into some of the names and research. :)