View Full Version : Writers conferences--worth the money?

09-05-2013, 12:19 AM
Not entirely sure if this is the proper place to post this, but I wanted to tap the AW knowledge of all to gain information on writers conferences.

I live in Chicago, IL, and the Chicago Writers conference is coming up at the end of the month, and for a small price of $200 a pop, I can attend.

I am currently out of work and really can't afford to spend money on frivolous events, but I also know lit agents will be in attendance, and I assume the money could be really well spent.

If anyone knows this particular conference or others and really wants to encourage or discourage my attendance in said event....please do so.

Karen Junker
09-05-2013, 12:38 AM
Conferences are a really great place to meet people and form relationships that can lead to improving your writing or writing career. Some of the classes can be helpful--if it's what you're ready to hear and you can use it in your writing.

It is extremely rare for someone who pitches at a conference to get their work published as a result. That said, you may meet someone who turns into your next beta reader and that may lead to the next step in developing your work.

Are the agents accepting work in your genre? Do you have a completed manuscript? Again, even if you pitch and get a request for more material, the chances are just as good that you would have found an agent through the normal query process.

I'm all for writing conferences (I am on the board of a writing workshop and am running the writing track of a SF convention) but if it were me and I didn't have a lot of money, I'd just save the $ and hang around here on the AW forums where you can learn quite a lot, make a lot of contacts and get to know where and how to move your work to the next level.

Good luck!

C.R. Baker
09-05-2013, 12:46 AM
I've only been to one so far (Write on the Sound in Edmonds, WA) and I will be going back this year.

They had great speakers, and it was excellent as an educational event that helped me learn more about craft. I also met some nice people.

I suppose I'd go to a conference if it was affordable and the list of events sounded really exciting. I probably would NOT go if it was in the hope of finding an agent. I think that is a bit too unlikely.

PS: Karen - I've heard great things about your conference!


09-05-2013, 10:09 PM
Hope so. I've already paid for the Florida Writer's Association conference in about six weeks. :)

Went last year and it was definitely worth it to me. Writers conferences let me meet and chat with people from other areas of the profession I don't normally see too often. They're a great place to network for the contacts that get you to agents and publishers, as well as see some of the craft and techniques you may not be up to date on.

By the way -- Don't go if it means a shortfall in your finances to pay basic living expenses. This will not have an immediate payback. Your time would be better spent finding work or doing something to get paid.


09-05-2013, 10:24 PM
I've been to two conferences, so by no means an expert, but here are my thoughts. First, it depends on your goals. Are you interested mainly in the classes, workshops etc. and believe the offerings in that realm are worthwhile on their own? If yes, then it's certainly good value because the add-ons such as meeting fellow writers and pitching sessions are just a bonus.

If you're going mainly to see if you can land an agent or book acquisitions editor, then I'd agree with Karen that the conference probably puts you no further ahead. In my limited experience, the agents "request" partials or full from pretty near anyone who pitches to them, but I believe statistically speaking you stand no better chance than those in the regular query process.

However, there are also other valuable reasons to go: maybe you want to gauge interest in your MS or in your query. There are often workshops that allow you to get feedback instantaneously. Or maybe like myself, you just want a "reward" for finishing a new MS and at the same time don't want it to make it frivolous -- a conference is a great social time where you can also learn about the industry.

09-05-2013, 11:09 PM
I know I'm the exception here, but my first book was published as a result of submitting to an editor at a large-ish conference. I met my current agent at a conference, and was introduced to him by one of his authors whose class I took.

You may not leave the conference with a publication offer, or with an agent, but I do honestly think that a well-staffed conference is absolutely worth the money. (That first one I attended--I used money from our wedding budget. I made that money back tenfold the same year.) I can name many writers in my genre who have made most of their contacts with agents and editors through conferences. It honestly seems like a shortcut to a good education about writing as well as a good way to begin a network of published writers, editors and agents. If you can manage the $200 without neglecting something essential, and the conference offers you the opportunity to learn from/interact with people who might matter in your publication journey, go for it.

09-06-2013, 08:39 AM
I also went to the Write on the Sound conference and it was fun. BUT it's a really cheap conference and I could afford it. If money was tight, I wouldn't go. But, fiction writing is mostly a hobby for me now, so I can treat it that way. The classes were interesting enough for the most part, and that was my only reason for going so it was worth it to me.

I skipped last year, but I'm going this year, so I might see you there, C.R.