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It’s the beginning of the year, and we know you’re looking at the calendar on our writers classifieds pages to see which writing conferences you’ll be attending in 2013.
But before you plunk down your hard-earned dollars for a conference that’s less than helpful, ask yourself these 5 questions!
5 Key Questions
What are three specific goals I hope to achieve at this conference? Before you leave for a weekend—or even a day—of workshops, conversing with fellow writers, and meeting with editors and agents, you need to ask yourself, “Why am I going?”
Do you want to have an editor look at a specific piece? Do you want to promote your new self-published book? You don’t want to be dazed by the rush of available events and opportunities, so go in with a solid plan. If you’re promoting, bring business cards with links to your author website; if you’re looking for feedback, inquire about the attending journals and find out which editor will respond best to your work.
How many agents and/or editors will be there? One of the most beneficial parts of any conference or workshop is the ability to confer with experienced editors and agents. Some editors offer publication in their literary journal or magazine if the reading dates match up, while others will actually sit down with you and give feedback on your work.
Understandably, you’ll want to attend a conference that invites enough editors and agents to handle the influx of writers looking for assistance. You don’t want to spend $500 for a weekend-long event that invites three editors and 1,000 writers!
How many agents and/or editors work in my genre? Do you work exclusively in poetry, books, or short prose? Then you’ll want to attend a conference tailored to your specific genre. It’s good to experience forms of writing outside your comfort zone now and then, but attending a conference filled with poets and poetry editors with the next great American novel in your hands may be a serious waste of time and money.
What exactly is included with your registration fee, and what additional fees might be due? Some conferences and workshops last for several days, offering attendees multiple chances to engage agents, editors, and other writers in conversations and group events, whereas others are just a few hours long. Is the registration fee on par with what you’ll be able to get back?
It’s important to understand what comes with the cost of attending the conference. The entire event could be in a hotel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a room or food is included in the price. Play it safe: Call the conference coordinator in advance to make sure the trip isn’t going to incur some unexpected charges.
Is the conference legitimate? You never want to hand over money in the publishing industry unless you’re sure the recipient has a stellar reputation. If you’re already part of a writers group, ask your fellow writers if they have ever heard of or attended the conference in which you are interested.
The most important choice you can make when attending a writing conference is to come into it with an open mind. Talk to other writers, arrange a meeting with an agent or editor, and take the advice of those who are experienced in the field.
If you’re interested in attending a conference, check out the Writer’s Relief Classifieds for our free listings. We update our lists weekly.