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CynV
03-01-2010, 07:55 AM
Not sure where to post this on the forum. I was wondering if any authors had some insights on going to a writing convention or conference.

Are they worth it? Do you have some favorable locations?

lostwanderer5
03-01-2010, 04:32 PM
Since I am planning to attend conferences and conventions for the first time this year, I have researched this A LOT.

What I have learned is that they are useful, if you pick the right ones that meet your needs.

You would have to take into consideration location, your budget, what exactly do you want to get out of it.

For example, this year, I wanted it to be useful but mostly I wanted experience of networking with other writers, attend a workshop or two, practice being in front of agents :P, and of course restricted budget, so I had to look for something in UK, as oppose to in USA (where there are tons of conferences - I am so jealous).

Think about what genre do you write? If you write romance, Romance Writers of America conferences might be useful (they are highly respected).

Linda Adams
03-02-2010, 03:37 AM
Depends on the conference and what you expect to get out of it. There are some conferences--usually sponsored by colleges--that are basically writing workshops. A lot of hands on work, but no agents. Others have workshops and events involving agents. The one I go to every year is more of a networking one because of the area I'm in--though it does have workshops.

Favorable locations is any place you want to go to and can afford to go to. I went to ThrillerFest a few years back--not a big hike location-wise, but the cost was really high. Hotel and parking was expensive, and the conference charged for everything. Fantastic workshops, but not great in the networking department. My regional one--only fifteen minutes away for me--tends to have non-fiction workshops (I'm fiction), but I always get the opportunity to meet agents. They have an agent breakfast, where you can pick an agent and eat at a table with them. Lunch is a free for all where everyone eats together, so you may find yourself seated at a table with five agents. Plus the pitch sessions, as well, and an agent roundtable (I believe last year they had both non-fiction and fiction; I actually have never attended any of the workshops).

I run the agent pitch room at the conference. If you are pitching, your novel MUST BE DONE. Every year, we get one or two writers who pitch an idea or the first three chapters of an unfinished book. I can tell you it really annoys the agents. We even had someone who tried to pitch a short story. This is just wasting everyone's time.

Even if you're not pitching because your book's not finished, have an elevator speech prepped. If you're around agents at all, they'll probably ask you what you're working on. It's a great opportunity to practice, even if the agent doesn't rep your genre. Plus, you never know. He might refer you to another agent in the agency.

By the way, if cost is a factor in the conference, look into the possibility of volunteering. Some conferences will give you a discount on the conference fee, plus you may be put at a table to welcome people. Do ask questions though--not all conferences are volunteer friendly. One of the other ones I attended was a little snobbish in the volunteer department and made it extremely difficult to volunteer (and they were sending emails asking for help!) and didn't provide any discounts.

CynV
03-02-2010, 06:51 AM
Ah, ok. I'm looking for the type of conference where you can network, meet with agents, etc. Preferably on the west coast.

Linda Adams
03-02-2010, 03:42 PM
Ah, ok. I'm looking for the type of conference where you can network, meet with agents, etc. Preferably on the west coast.

Look for one with functions involving agents other than just pitch sessions. Los Angeles might be a really good place to look because it is a very creative area, plus it has Hollywood, so you get the best of both worlds.

Greg Wilson
03-03-2010, 02:31 AM
I'd also recommend looking at conferences which are big enough to have large writers' tracks without necessarily being dedicated to writing alone. I'm a member of the Writers Symposium, for instance, which presents at panels and conducts workshops at GenCon in Indianapolis, the largest gaming convention in the world. A lot of professional authors in fantasy and science fiction take part in the writing track, and there are both good opportunities for networking and a lot of practical information for aspiring authors to be gleaned from the experience...without spending the incredible amount of money that some writing conferences demand (I think the $500 registration fee (!) asked for by some prominent conferences is obscene, for example, no matter how many industry professionals they allegedly attract. You could attend three smaller conferences for that cost and get much the same benefit, if not more.).

Greg

geardrops
03-03-2010, 03:03 AM
I went to WFC (http://www.worldfantasy.org/) last year, first time at a writerly-type convention. Got to hang out with some cool cats and drink on Stephanie Meyer's dime. Picked up some rad books, too.

I would say that the experience may have been more useful, career-wise, if I was ready to query. But it was a great experience, and I made some amazing friends while there (with whom I chat at least weekly). So, I vote that my con experience was worthwhile.

Though, for sure, you get out of it what you put into it. And it helped that I knew people already when walking in the door.

Snowstorm
03-03-2010, 03:11 AM
The only writers conference I've been to is the Wyoming Writers', Inc. annual conferences (this year it's in Cody, Wyo.). It's big enough to draw editors and agents from both coasts, and even a Hollywood screen writer, and a former U.S. poet laureate. We draw enough attendees to make it interesting and the workshops are worthwhile. But, it's also small enough we can see many of the same people year after year and become friends. Definitely worth it; many of us are rejuvenated afterward.

Noah Body
03-04-2010, 01:37 AM
Favorable locations is any place you want to go to and can afford to go to. I went to ThrillerFest a few years back--not a big hike location-wise, but the cost was really high. Hotel and parking was expensive, and the conference charged for everything. Fantastic workshops, but not great in the networking department. My regional one--only fifteen minutes away for me--tends to have non-fiction workshops (I'm fiction), but I always get the opportunity to meet agents. They have an agent breakfast, where you can pick an agent and eat at a table with them. Lunch is a free for all where everyone eats together, so you may find yourself seated at a table with five agents. Plus the pitch sessions, as well, and an agent roundtable (I believe last year they had both non-fiction and fiction; I actually have never attended any of the workshops).

Damn, you're right about the costs -- ThrillerFest is in NYC where I am, and I see a full ticket to everything is a measly $1,000! :D

Karen Junker
03-04-2010, 02:16 AM
May I suggest a small writers' retreat? www.WritersWeekend.com , a small retreat on the Washington coast. We have lots of great networking with award-winning, published authors in Science Fiction and Fantasy. We share the costs, so it's $106 for the event and that includes your food. The cost of the hotel room is separate, as is your transportation. I usually give a ride from Sea-Tac airport to anyone who flies in for the event.

What could be more fun? Anyway, you're all invited -- it would be lovely if you could join us!

CAWriter
03-04-2010, 02:16 AM
Ah, ok. I'm looking for the type of conference where you can network, meet with agents, etc. Preferably on the west coast.

Unfortunately you just missed a really good one; the San Francisco Writer's Conference (It's held at the end of February each year). CA has an abundance of regional and genre-specific conferences though. Check the Writer's Digest website and Writer's Market for a list so you can investigate some specific conferences.

CynV
03-04-2010, 08:12 AM
Unfortunately you just missed a really good one; the San Francisco Writer's Conference (It's held at the end of February each year). CA has an abundance of regional and genre-specific conferences though. Check the Writer's Digest website and Writer's Market for a list so you can investigate some specific conferences.

I know! I forgot I wanted to go to that one too.

I've been doing Internet searches over and over again and can't find anything worthwhile. Like was said they are obscenely expensive. Hopefully I'll have better luck with Writer's Digest.

Synonym
03-04-2010, 08:24 AM
I'm going to a small workshop put on by The Wild Rose Press the end of April. I wouldn't have known about it except--I'd signed up for emails and announcements. You might try that with some of the publishers you have an interest in.

I've never been to anything before, so small seemed less intimidating to me. Guess I'll find out.

Good luck with your search.

KTC
03-04-2010, 02:29 PM
I put this one together with 10 friends. (http://www.thewritersconference.com/Ontario-Writers-Conference-2010.html) It's not on the west coast though...it's in Ontario. We're volunteers and we've been spending all our spare hours on making sure every single detail is perfect. I can vouch for this one and say that it is worth it. It has panels, workshops, networking, roundtables, readings, keynote speakers, food, food, food, blue pencil mentor sessions, agents, publishers, YA, Sci-Fi, chick lit, everything. It has Robert J. Sawyer! We had a conference in 2008...this is our second.

Greg Wilson
03-05-2010, 01:15 AM
I put this one together with 10 friends. (http://www.thewritersconference.com/Ontario-Writers-Conference-2010.html) It's not on the west coast though...it's in Ontario. We're volunteers and we've been spending all our spare hours on making sure every single detail is perfect. I can vouch for this one and say that it is worth it. It has panels, workshops, networking, roundtables, readings, keynote speakers, food, food, food, blue pencil mentor sessions, agents, publishers, YA, Sci-Fi, chick lit, everything. It has Robert J. Sawyer! We had a conference in 2008...this is our second.

If you got Robert you're in good shape right there (and what a genuinely nice guy, by the way--I talked to him at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts last year about an anthology I'm co-editing, and saw him again at Ad Astra a little later (both good and not off the charts expensive conferences, by the way...and Ad Astra is in Toronto too)). Sounds like a good event.

KTC
03-05-2010, 02:23 AM
We're really excited about having Robert. And not only as a keynote speaker. He'll be facilitating a workshop and doing some blue pencil mentorships as well! We were REALLY lucky!

CynV
03-06-2010, 09:27 AM
Thanks for all the great ideas.

There's alot to choose from now.

Has anyone been to the Unicorn Writer's Conference in CT? http://www.unicornwritersconference.com/Registration.html
(http://www.unicornwritersconference.com/Registration.html)
Its only 1 day long but it is packed with workshops.

juniper
03-06-2010, 11:04 AM
The Willamette Writers Conference is in Portland, in August. It looks pretty good. I'm planning to go this year for the first time. Here's a link:

http://www.willamettewriters.com/wwc/3/

OneWriter
03-19-2010, 08:48 AM
I wanted to pitch in my experience, which is not from going to a conference, but from entering the contest of a conference that will take place at the end of April. It's called Pikes Peak 2010 (http://www.ppwc.net/) and unfortunately I can't go, but I just got back the critique from my contest entry and it's FABULOUS. Very encouraging, very positive, points exactly at the things in the ms that need to be re-worked, and ends with a very encouraging note that once the issues will be addressed my ms will likely find a home. I am thrilled because this was my very first novel, and actually I have done a couple more re-edits since I had sent my entry, so I certainly didn't expect such a positive outcome. Anyways, based on this alone, I would say yes, conferences are a great thing!