Two months ago I was very skeptical about writer’s conferences. As far as I was concerned, they were expensive and time-consuming and I wasn’t going to learn anything from them. I was pretty fixed in my opinions. I was certain that I was right….
Then someone paid for me to actually go to one (The Antelope Valley Christian Writer’s Conference) and my opinion was forever changed!
Whether you are an aspiring writer or a seasoned, published one, Writer’s conferences have something for you. Here’s why I think you should go to one and what you should expect.
The top three reasons to go:
- Networking. Like it or not, in the publishing industry, it’s as much about who you know as what you know. At a writer’s conference, you will meet aspiring authors, published authors, professional editors, agents, publishers and a whole host of other people connected with the industry. Starting and building relationships with these people will help you no end in your quest to get published.
- Education. At a conference, you will learn things you didn’t even know you needed to learn. You will discover more about the process of writing, more about what you should and shouldn’t do in your book(s), what has worked for other people, what other people have found doesn’t work, lots of different ways to make money as a writer that you probably haven’t considered and most importantly what NOT to do when writing a book proposal.
- Giving. It is always true in life that you have to give to receive. I’m sure you want to receive help, I’m sure you want to receive a contract, you’d probably even like to receive some nice royalty checks. If you want to receive all of those things from the writing industry then you need to give first. At the conference you will meet other people like you to whom you can give encouragement and support and you’ll meet the faculty who you can encourage and give feedback to. Believe me, giving is essential and will reap rewards for both you and the people you give to in many, many ways.
What not to expect:
- A contract right there, on the spot. It’s not going to happen. Sorry.
- To sign an agent. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll actually get yourself an agent at the conference. Sorry.
On the flip side of that though:
- You may just meet a publishing editor who asks you to send her (or him) your book proposal. BOOM! Your proposal just went from unsolicited to solicited. It’s not a contract or any form of guarantee but it’s a BIG step up the ladder.
- You will start building relationships with one or more agents. When you later send them your book proposal, they will have a face to put to your name. You’re no longer just an unknown nobody, you’re that person they talked with last week who made them laugh over lunch. As they read your proposal, they will start with a positive opinion of you. That’s going to help you no end.
I am quite introverted and find it hard to strike up conversations with people but at a writer’s conference, there are two opening questions you can ask anyone you talk to:
- What do you write?
- Have you been published?
I used that approach to talk to quite a few people and ended up making some great friends and meeting some really interesting people. Not only that, but since then I’ve had some incredible advice and feedback and continued to build some wonderful friendships. The experience was really invaluable to me.
I absolutely recommend that you go to a conference. If you are anywhere in southern California, the AV Writer’s Conference is a great place to start (no, I’m not on commission, I just really enjoyed it).
My biggest single piece of advice though is this:
There is no point in going to a conference and making new contacts and friends if you’re not going to follow up afterward. It’s just a waste of your time and theirs!
What do you think? Have you been to a writer’s conference? Would you recommend that others go?