View Full Version : Are author-agent seminars, or writer's conferences, important?

07-29-2011, 04:22 AM
As the title says.

Considering visa and foreign exchange and other limits, it seems impossible for me to travel to USA to attend, say, the Backspace Seminar.

Is the conference important / necessary / essential? But what can I do now? Although I have got several guidebooks by agents, I don't have those discussions and meetings.

I also believe that agents and authors in different countries discuss different topics. You cannot expect Chinese agents/authors talk about same issues like American ones because the markets differ.

Thank you. :)

07-29-2011, 05:05 PM
I don't think they're essential or necessary at all. Are there helpful things to learn there? Yes. There are all the same helpful things to learn online, and that's free, except for the cost of internet access. Even agents' and editors' talks at conferences are usually put up online shortly after the event.

I've never been to a conference before so I don't know exactly what they're like. I know a lot of successful published authors who have never been to one, except as a paid speaker. I know a lot of unpublished writers who spend money on conferences every year, convinced that they are the way to get published, yet they still are not published. And yes, there are people who got their agents by doing pitches in person at conferences. There are just as many or more who got their agents by querying them.

Mr Flibble
07-29-2011, 05:35 PM
I've only been to a couple but: They are fun, interesting, a great way to meet other writers, informative, helpful, useful.

Not essential by any stretch.

If it's going to drain your resources, or it's a real hassle to get to, don't go. That said, I will go to more, as and when finances permit. I met some great people (pubbed authors, unpubbed authors, agents, editors etc), learned about a lot of stuff and last year I did get to pitch to a couple of people and get sub requests from people not open to subs. But all that got was the opportunity to sub - they both passed in the end.

But you don't need to go. Even if you do go, if you haven't got what you do need ( a great MS and an effective pitch/query) then while you'll learn stuff it won't get you much closer to getting an agent/publisher.

07-29-2011, 05:50 PM
If the question, as you put it in your original post, is are they important, I'm not sure anyone can answer that one authoritatively for you.

Are they a lotta fun? Heck yes. I've attended conferences as an attendee, panelist, and moderator, and I love doing it (I'm a biographer, so we're a different kind of nerd than novelists or poets -- they can probably address your question better when it comes to those kinds of gatherings).

Are they necessary? Absolutely not -- but they DO provide a great opportunity to network and meet lots of great people on both sides of the ocean and both sides of the desk -- not just writers, but agents, editors and others in the industry. At the last conference I attended, I got hugged by a Pulitzer winner, made a five-time Number One Bestselling Author laugh, drank with a British agent, and got to hear a bang-up speech by a personal idol (Robert Caro). Was it necessary? Nope. Unforgettable? Absolutely.

07-29-2011, 06:10 PM
Fun, can be useful, but optional.

07-30-2011, 04:26 AM
Thanks, everyone. Now I'm in relief. Surely I will attend if I have a chance and more experience to share.

I did hear some authors received many rejections, but got representation after he went to conferences. So guess it is rare cases.

Karen Junker
07-30-2011, 06:01 AM
I put on writers' events and the feedback I've received includes everything from people who made contact with their editor or agent at the event and sold work as a result to people who just appreciate the opportunity to meet and get to know other writers.

One editor at last week's event told me that the only way to get work seen by her is to have an agent submit it or to meet her and have her request a submission at a writers' event.

I go to a lot of writers' conferences! And not just the ones I put on!

07-30-2011, 01:28 PM
One editor at last week's event told me that the only way to get work seen by her is to have an agent submit it or to meet her and have her request a submission at a writers' event.

Thank you. That is an advantage indeed. As the agents say, "this is a subjective business." I guess although agents know what editors like or specialize in, agents can still be a barricade.

07-30-2011, 08:44 PM
I think it's important to figure out your intent for attending a conference. Are you going to specifically get signed by an agent or editor, or are you attending to learn?

They're expensive, and there are no guarantees you'll get what you're looking for. Conversely, conferences and one-on-ones are a great way to network and learn about the industry. It's also a great place to talk to editors and agents in a casual setting. I signed one of our authors at the PNWA con last year, and her book is coming out in October - so good things can happen.

07-31-2011, 12:48 AM
I understand the importance of networking, but the cost would be prohibitive right now to cross the ocean for that purpose. If I'd be in the neighborhood, I'd probably attend.

07-31-2011, 09:06 PM
Very smart of you. Anyone who can't afford a conference shouldn't put themselves into financial difficulty.