In 2013, I attended the Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham. I had attended book conferences while I lived in Seattle, and I had fond memories of networking with authors and taking workshops.
I discovered many benefits from attending the conference from attending workshops which kicked me into gear to pitching a novel to an agent (which left me with a case of nerves despite a successful pitch). However, my favorite part of the festival was networking with other authors as well as, rubbing elbows with successfully published authors. Garth Stein (Racing with the Rain) was teaching at that conference.
On the downside, conferences are pricey, especially if you are traveling to the conference from out-of-town and you also need to book a hotel room. And you must set aside two or three days to focus on your writing career and clear away all distractions (leave your laptop at home unless you plan on using it for actual writing). And it’s best to take advantage of the other events that occur during the evenings such as participating in open mics. This means that you will get little sleep the weekend of the conference.
So, here are my 5 reasons to attend a regional or national writers conference:
- Writing really is a collaborative art even if we feel like we do most of the writing alone on a chair facing a computer screen. Authors require editors, agents, writing groups (for some writers), and the companionship of other authors. After all, writers who isolate themselves, I would imagine, have less chance of landing a publishing deal, simply because they get stuck in their own minds.
- Building networks are crucial especially for writers who don’t live in a major publishing city such as Manhattan. So, conferences provide authors with opportunities to network with agents, editors, and other publishing industry professionals. This opportunity is priceless, especially if you pay the extra fee to pitch your work to agents and editors. (Some agents will only read unsolicited work from writers they met at conferences).
- Learning about the latest trends and other publishing news occurs at writers conferences. We often learn about the latest buzz too or any economic hardships affecting the publishing industry–such as mergers, or publishing going online instead of in print.
- Meeting established authors and attending their workshops reaps gold. Stay after the workshop is over and ask the authors questions that are burning in your mind. Ask them how they landed their publishing deal, but don’t expect them to pass your name on to their agents. (It would be rude to even bring that up).
- Learn new writing skills at the hands-on workshops and cram in as many workshops as possible. Take notes and keep the teachers’ handouts for future use.
I’m sure there are many other reasons to attend a writing conference. And if you feel no desire to even attend a writer conference, then you might want to ask yourself why you are pursuing a career as a published author. Authorship is never just about writing. It also includes learning the business of publishing and networking like crazy.
I’m an author and astrologer branching out into coaching writers. If you would like to have an astrology chart drawn up to see what your strengths and weaknesses are as an author, sign up for a Skype session at Whole Astrology. I look forward to working with you.