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gettingby
11-17-2014, 03:00 PM
How often do you attend literary events such as reading or panel discussions and maybe even conferences? I've recently gone to some in my area and quite enjoyed them. Plus, a lot of the same people seem to pop up at these things so it is kind of like a community.

Do you guys find this stuff to be beneficial to you as a writer? What is the biggest benefit? How do you find out about these sort of things? I know the conferences are easy to find, but there are some great things I went to that I only found out about through word of mouth.

Also, (just curious) do you think serious writers should be going to these things? I kind of feel that if I am going to dedicate such a large portion of my life to reading and writing that I should be part of this community. Or maybe should is the wrong word, but I feel like I want to. What has your experience been with literary events?

Cathy C
11-17-2014, 04:25 PM
I've done all of them. Readings are not as interesting to me because I'm a visual person. The words aren't as evocative to me if I hear them (audio books have no appeal, as a result.)

Conferences are great for getting ideas! Panels with multiple authors really can bounce ideas around, and I've found the smaller the conference, the more interaction between the authors and the audience.

"Serious" writers are those that want to write. :Shrug: So, sure. The best part about cons is meeting new people. That's always my goal--to meet other authors (and now, fans). Without that sort of interaction, the writing isn't as much fun to me. :)

KMTolan
11-17-2014, 11:21 PM
I regularly attend ConDFW in Dallas which is literary-bent. The real jewel for me is hearing from readers and seeing what interests them. Second up is the networking contacts, and of course, promoting (g).

Kerry

heza
11-17-2014, 11:37 PM
I've just now started to try to do this kind of thing. At first, I felt like I couldn't justify the expense—like I'd start spending money on my writing "hobby" after it started making money—but I've recently seen advice to start doing it early.

I'm still working my way up to being a dues-paying member of organizations and shelling out for conferences, but I have found a few writers groups and workshops that I intend to start participating in. The networking part is difficult for me because I'm really introverted.

I read, not too, too long ago, on (I think) Janet Reid's blog about how important it is to support your peers, that word of mouth is what sells books and that other writers can help you with that. If you've supported them by going to their signings, etc., then they're more likely to see your work and promote it to their readers.

The way I hear about these things is that I found a writers' group with an email list, and notices about signings and author events often get sent out there.

Jim Riley
11-20-2014, 12:47 AM
I joined a local writer's group also. If something in the literary world is happening near us, somebody in the group knows about it.

blacbird
11-20-2014, 11:18 AM
In my experience, they vary widely. I've attended some fabulously good ones, and some at the other end of the bell curve. To a major degree, it depends on what you go there for. Do you want to cajole an agent? Do you want to workshop your writing? Do you want to hear a famous writer read? Do you want to listen to a panel discussion on issue X, Y, or Q? Do you want to sit at the hotel bar, shoulder-to-shoulder with successful writers, and be able to brag about that later, if you can remember?

As with any writing-related endeavor, a bit of research might be valuable.

caw

CrastersBabies
11-20-2014, 08:48 PM
Attended a good amount (readings and conferences). Been on some academic panels, but no writing panels.

You get out of them what you put in. If you go, listen for 30 minutes and take off, you're probably not going to get much. If you go, introduce yourself to people, make connections, sit in on a solid number of panels, you might get a lot out of it.

I've met some great agents and writers at conventions.

Toothpaste
11-20-2014, 09:14 PM
What CrastersBabies said. The panels can be very interesting and there are events that hold writing workshops and even pitch sessions. But my big word of advice is one that was given to me: if you want to network, head to the bar. That's where everyone goes after their panels to unwind and hang out. Don't pitch your book, don't try to do anything other than hang out with cool people. But that's where you will find the agents, editors and authors in a more relaxed atmosphere ready for conversation. I've met some amazing people that way. And then, down the road, then you can pitch to them etc. I have a friend who got a publishing deal just because she was chatting with an editor. The editor was the one who broached the subject of her work, and then requested it. And the rest if history.

Namatu
11-20-2014, 10:12 PM
What CrastersBabies said. The panels can be very interesting and there are events that hold writing workshops and even pitch sessions. But my big word of advice is one that was given to me: if you want to network, head to the bar. That's where everyone goes after their panels to unwind and hang out. Don't pitch your book, don't try to do anything other than hang out with cool people. But that's where you will find the agents, editors and authors in a more relaxed atmosphere ready for conversation. Indeed. The networking aspect is one of the most enjoyable parts of attending a conference. "Networking" makes it sound more clinical than it is. Your among like folks, talking! It's fun and exhausting and you meet lots of great people that way.

Toothpaste
11-20-2014, 10:48 PM
It's true, but I like to use the word because I think people get scared by the word networking and need to know ultimately that's all it means so that when they see the word next it's less scary :) .

CrastersBabies
11-21-2014, 03:32 AM
What CrastersBabies said. The panels can be very interesting and there are events that hold writing workshops and even pitch sessions. But my big word of advice is one that was given to me: if you want to network, head to the bar. That's where everyone goes after their panels to unwind and hang out. Don't pitch your book, don't try to do anything other than hang out with cool people. But that's where you will find the agents, editors and authors in a more relaxed atmosphere ready for conversation. I've met some amazing people that way. And then, down the road, then you can pitch to them etc. I have a friend who got a publishing deal just because she was chatting with an editor. The editor was the one who broached the subject of her work, and then requested it. And the rest if history.

This. X1000000000000000000000

The connections alone are worth it, especially if you click enough to get a FB request through or whatnot. I've seen many writing announcements and calls for projects through new pals I met at conventions.

gettingby
11-21-2014, 04:12 AM
I am not trying to pitch anything. I just enjoy these kind of things and want to feel a part of the scene. I have approached people after to continue the discussion and also to solicit work for my literary journal. It has worked well so far, but I am new to these sort of events and discussions. I just want to be surrounded by greatness.

Toothpaste
11-21-2014, 04:28 AM
Be wary of talking to folks right after a panel. I do a fair few conventions and sit on many panels and the trouble is there is usually a panel in the same room right after and I'm being hustled out of the room by the con organisers. And if you follow me as I'm walking along I kind of feel trapped. Maybe I'm in a rush to get to my next panel, maybe I'm exhausted and just want to go to my room for some quiet time. Maybe I'm meeting someone at the bar for a one on one drink. If you're with me I feel like I need to be polite and keep talking with you even if it's the last thing I'm in the mood for.

The reason I always suggest the bar is you can really gauge what state folks are in. You know when folks are hanging out at the bar they want to be sociable, that's why they are there. Obviously you don't want to interrupt a quiet tete a tete, but if there's a loud group of folks with a pitcher between them, sure go introduce yourself!

Anyway, that's just my personal experience. It will vary for everyone, and clearly you've had luck with this so I guess I'm only saying this just as something to be watching out for. If you get the sense the person is a little distracted or is rushing somewhere, just maybe let them be. Clearly though if after you engage with them they are chatty and happy to be with you, then it shouldn't be a problem :) .

gettingby
11-21-2014, 05:19 AM
For good writers they're a waste of time. Good writers will succeed w/o networking or currying favor.

For okay writers they're probably worth attending. Talent alone will likely not get them pub'd. Ethics aside, they need a boost.

For crummy writers literary events are a must. They should attend them all, in the nude.

I know I asked the question, but I have to disagree with your answer, and I also say it doesn't really answer the question. I have run into well-accomplished writers at these events that were there to listen and not present. And going to these events in not always about being a writer as much as it is appreciating good writing and interesting discussions. Nothing I have been to will make me a better writer. That's not what this is about. But I imagine many cities have literary scenes. I want to be a part of that as a reader and an editor as much as a writer.

I am not talking about pitch sessions but rather more talks about things like gender equality in the publishing industry or talks on postmodernism. I would never assume people at these events are crummy writers. I don't think crummy writers are interested in this stuff necessarily.

Toothpaste
11-21-2014, 05:39 AM
Wow. Considering I literally just said I do these events often, I'm pretty darn insulted by your conclusions Ken. By the way they are fallacious. Unless you think authors like John Scalzi, Guy Gavriel Gay, Tamora Pierce et al are merely "okay" writers.

Honestly, when I first got published I knew no one in the industry at all. A very good friend who was also starting out took me to my first writing convention. There she introduced me to some pretty big heavy hitters that she had met over the years. Going to the convention in fact is what got her her very first published piece in a short story anthology. She now has 11 books published with the Big Six. Meanwhile my going to these conventions made me excellent connections with big authors who have subsequently become my friends (which should be enough on its own) but professionally they have helped me promote and blurb my books. The reason Kelly Armstrong blurbed OUTCAST? She was there in the audience at my reading when I read a chapter from it before it was even published and she came up to me afterwords and told me how much she enjoyed it. I mean, she's just a deeply generous person anyway, but yeah, none of that would have happened had I not gone to a convention.

As I said above, my friend got a publishing deal out of going. And I have several friends who went to specific agent conferences to pitch agents and got an agent out of the experience. And then there are the newer writers I know who swear by certain conventions due to how much they learn and grow as writers.

Now do you NEED to go? Absolutely not, and if you are not comfortable with crowds etc I can absolutely understand someone not wanting to go. After all, I got published before ever having met an agent or editor in person in my life. I wrote a book. I queried. I got representation. It wasn't quite that easy, but it did happen without any networking at all. But is there a benefit, to going, absolutely. And if you want to go, I say do it. Plus it can be a heck of a lot of fun.

In conclusion: your post is dead wrong Ken. And actually quite offensive.

Ken
11-21-2014, 04:15 PM
Well, I never read anyone's posts when I post in a thread, just so you know. I read them afterwards. My replies tend to be more me that way I find. So mine wasn't in any way a reflection on your own. It was a reflection on literary events I've attended in the past, and by and large they were all about making connections and networking to an unsettling degree. And these were totally professional events. Maybe I just attended the wrong ones.

Readings are much different in my experience. With those the writing itself really is first and foremost. Those were definitely worth the while. I learnt some valuable stuff from those. Not to say the currying ones weren't educational too. Just kinda hard to get into with all the, "yes, yes, oh how wonderful you are and what a terrific honor it is that you are here and by the way --

Anyway, just offering my two cents. Feel free to ignore it or write it off as the rantings of a fool.

ps g'luck in your quest gettingby. stimulating convo can be awesome.

Kylabelle
11-21-2014, 04:42 PM
Ken, that's really good for everyone to know, that you never read their posts before offering your own opinion. You might consider putting that in your user title in your profile (where it now says "and friends...") so people know in advance how much weight to give to your comments.

I'd also appreciate it if you would edit out of your post the line about "crummy writers" because regardless of the rest of it, that line alone is disrespectful. I'll happily remove your entire post instead, if you prefer.

Thanks.

Undercover
11-21-2014, 04:49 PM
I've always wanted to go to one of these but the money and getting there seem to be a problem for me. And well, talking to people face to face (even though I did it for 15 years as a bank teller) I can't seem to do it very well now. BUT, some day I am going to one of these. They sound like a lot of fun. I'd definitely hit the bar if I do it.

jchines
11-21-2014, 05:52 PM
I do a number of SF/F conventions. These days, the primary reasons are connecting with fellow geeks. It's probably networking, as I talk to and hang out with a bunch of readers and fans and authors, but mostly I go because I enjoy it. Making connections and selling some books is just a bonus.

My gut feeling is that you should try different things, and do the ones you enjoy. If you go to a convention or a reading because you feel like you're supposed to, even though you hate the experience, it's not going to help you and will probably just make you miserable.

Ken
11-21-2014, 06:14 PM
Ken, that's really good for everyone to know, that you never read their posts before offering your own opinion.

I read the OPs of course. I just don't read the follow-up replies until after I post my own reply. That way I am not influenced by what others have said. Often, very convincing points are put across which would make me hesitate to post my own or change it in accordance to theirs. Then when I've posted I return to the replies and read them all to find out what has been said. I don't mean any disrespect by that. I just want to give an answer that is mine and not something filtered thru other's replies. That's just me though and my own approach, inspired by lack of confidence in my own opinions.

Ari Meermans
11-21-2014, 06:44 PM
I read the OPs of course. I just don't read the follow-up replies until after I post my own reply. That way I am not influenced by what others have said. Often, very convincing points are put across which would make me hesitate to post my own or change it in accordance to theirs. Then when I've posted I return to the replies and read them all to find out what has been said. I don't mean any disrespect by that. I just want to give an answer that is mine and not something filtered thru other's replies. That's just me though and my own approach, inspired by lack of confidence in my own opinions.

It's not a matter of being influenced by other opinions for me, though. Not in the way you seem to mean, Ken. I like to read other opinions to further refine and ground my own opinion. There may be other viewpoints I haven't taken into consideration. When that happens I question and hold my own opinion (and theirs) up to a prism and examine each facet. Sometimes, that examination will send me off to reflect and learn more; sometimes, it gives me a clearer basis for dissent or agreement. This isn't a lack of confidence in my own opinion; it's more a questing to understand or assure the validity of my own viewpoint. Questioning ourselves is a vital component of growth, you know?

Kylabelle
11-21-2014, 07:04 PM
Ken, there are times I don't read all posts in a thread, and I'm almost always sorry if I post before doing so. Because here's the thing: Threads in a discussion are not about individuals responding singly to an initiating OP comment. Threads are a discussion, a conversation, and to disregard what's been said is to disrespect the basic function of the board.

That said, let's respect those who still want to converse about the actual topic and drop this one here.

My sense of the value of attending literary events is that it is not so much about influence or getting noticed as that it is a kind of cross-pollination of ideas. Interacting with others who are practicing your art is fundamentally instructive and expansive, IMO.

Toothpaste
11-21-2014, 08:47 PM
Ken, if your only issue is you don't enjoy networking, why couldn't you have just simply said that instead of insulting all other authors as if the only authors who could possibly enjoy networking are total losers and must be compensating for their lousy writing for daring to be social?

Networking is not for everyone. Quite frankly when I think of it as "networking" I don't like it either (which is why above I said I like to use the word and kind of make it sound less scary to me). But hanging out and meeting cool new people is something I personally enjoy. And have these relationships been fruitful business connections as well, yes. But really they begin as hanging out. Heck the best thing is getting to meet up with people you only know online (like a one jchines :) ).

Ken
11-22-2014, 12:38 AM
Ari, Kyla: your approach of reading posts, prior to, obviously has done fine. You are both knowlegable on a host of subjects and wise as an owl ^..^ So maybe I should follow suit and do likewise as you suggest.

Tpaste. That would have been a good idea now that you mention it !

Socializing is neat like you say. Next time your in the village give me a holla and I will treat you to a strongly brewed coffee. You'll need the caffeine to keep awake as I bore you with convo, interspersed with long periods of silence when my confidence wans.

Seriously, though, you're OK. Intimidating intelligent and blush blush whatnot, but A-OK.

ps what's a jchines ?

Kylabelle
11-22-2014, 01:21 AM
I do a number of SF/F conventions. These days, the primary reasons are connecting with fellow geeks. It's probably networking, as I talk to and hang out with a bunch of readers and fans and authors, but mostly I go because I enjoy it. Making connections and selling some books is just a bonus.

My gut feeling is that you should try different things, and do the ones you enjoy. If you go to a convention or a reading because you feel like you're supposed to, even though you hate the experience, it's not going to help you and will probably just make you miserable.

Ken. jchines is the member who posted this, upthread. Who makes a good point or two.

andiwrite
11-22-2014, 01:27 AM
I'm interested in doing some of these things, but I have no idea what actually goes on at them. My publisher encourages writers to go to conferences and promote their books, but how/where does this promotion actually take place?

Kylabelle
11-22-2014, 01:34 AM
I've never been to one of the big conventions, andiwrite, but from what I understand, the promotion happens throughout, in various ways. I hope CathyC and amergina will stop by and share a bit about that as they are experienced convention attenders, and can give you some details. I know authors have tables where they sign their books for fans, and give away promotional swag such as bookmarks and that kind of thing, which helps get the book's name and their name more widely spread among readers. But that's about the extent of my knowledge!

*waits for more experienced voices to speak up here*

Toothpaste
11-22-2014, 03:12 AM
Well I'm a conference/convention attendee (attender?).

It really depends on what kind it is. The kind I like best are quite writing centric but tend to be more convention-y, less writing retreat-y (this is the one I tend to do every year here in Toronto: http://www.ad-astra.org/). They are also usually SF/Fantasy in theme and have more going on then just writing. Usually there are different panels on various subjects people can attend. I'm often on various YA panels, sometimes on Steampunk themed panels. I also tend to do a lot of very pragmatic, "So You Want To Get An Agent, here are some steps" panels. Often authors/editors/agents are invited to attend, but I've also emailed the con organisers with my bio and what I think I can bring to a panel and they usually find something for me.

Some conferences/conventions also have more practical workshops. Actual writing classes, or pitch sessions where you pitch an agent/editor. There are usually also readings from authors and signings. And there's a Dealer's Room where you can buy books (and other stuff).

You promote your books by being present. By doing a reading. By doing a signing. By being on panels and the audience maybe came to see the panel because of someone else but then they like what you have to say and decide to buy your books :) . If you really want to you can get a table in the Dealer's Room and really work the room to sell your books. But I find it better to just attend and get to know people, and have a bookstore in the Dealer's Room sell my books for me.

And all this usually takes place over a weekend in a hotel. There's a bar where people hang out, sometimes there are little concerts, sometimes there's even a dance, or a formal dinner (many conventions host award ceremonies).

There are also writing retreats which are quite different. Usually this is a smaller group and much more focused on actually writing over the weekend. You share your work, people offer critiques, you have classes from established authors etc. These are smaller and more intimate. Good for networking because you really get to know people, but they aren't conventions. They are real writing intensive experiences.

I can go into more detail if folks would like, but maybe specific questions would be good :) .

Toothpaste
11-22-2014, 03:17 AM
Tpaste. That would have been a good idea now that you mention it !

Socializing is neat like you say. Next time your in the village give me a holla and I will treat you to a strongly brewed coffee. You'll need the caffeine to keep awake as I bore you with convo, interspersed with long periods of silence when my confidence wans.

Seriously, though, you're OK. Intimidating intelligent and blush blush whatnot, but A-OK.

ps what's a jchines ?

Well I'm flattered thanks :) . Though can I have tea instead? :)

The thing is Ken, remember this next time because you did hurt my feelings with your initial post. Try to focus on making your actual point, and ask yourself could someone be offended by these words.

Also maybe just maybe if you read all the posts you would have known that jchines is a poster here as well as a well published author and quite well known in the blogosphere. And a cool dude I met in person and even interviewed for a nerd website I used to work for at the convention I linked to in my post above many moons ago :) .

Ken
11-22-2014, 04:39 AM
Thnx Kyla and Tpaste for filling me in on jchines.
Tea. Deal. A whole pitcher if you like ! :-)

Really sorry. Didn't mean to, with my initial :-(
Posting is hard and challenging for me.
To some extent that's probably my own doing.
Something to improve upon. Will work on it.