It’s the beginning of the year, and we know you’re looking 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.
QUESTION: Do you have any inspiring, insightful, funny, or frightening stories from the conferences you’ve attended?
This is in reference to the question about attending a conference. six or so yeqars ago I attended the NYC conference, hundreds of Agents, editors, publisher’s were there. i paid a fee to sit for fifteen minutes with the editor of a major publisher. A personable young lady, but, yes there is always a “BUT”; she did not have a cluye about my query of what I could do with the two books I had published years earlier and wanted to have brought back into print. The original publisher had been hauled off to court for fraud on one book, the other publisher was brought out by Amazon. the poor hapless young lady made such a inane suggestion as to what should be done, all I saw before my eyes was my money for the three days going down the drain. i had attended my first conference in Chicago a year or so earlier than the NYC event. The book I was pitching got some buzz but no follow up by those seemingly interested, not even replying to my contacts a week after the conference. So, I do not reccomend conferences to any of my peer authors/writers. I found them to be money pits and disappointing. I honestly do hope some authors/writers get more out of them than I did.
Eric, I’m truly sorry to hear about your negative experiences at the writers conferences you’ve attended. Unfortunately, any paid venue runs the risk of not living up to one’s expectations, and writerly events are no different. Keep in mind, however, that conferences and workshops can be used for more than just advice from publishers! Part of the “experience” of a conference or workshop is being able to speak and share work with your fellow writers. You can insight from the suggestions and ideas of others and join in group sessions with writers in your genre. This kind exposure is essential for a writer, and the knowledge you gain while speaking with people as passionate about your craft as you are can significantly improve your writing morale!
If you’re interested in viewing some of the writers conferences and workshops we’ve researched, feel free to visit our Classifieds Page! As always, we hope all the best for your future writing endeavors.
These are some great tips for scoping out a good writer’s conference. Having never attended one myself, I now know what to look for when I do decide to visit one. Thanks for the insight!
Thanks for the tips! I haven’t attended a writer’s conference yet, but I’ve been looking at going to one this year. It seems like there are so many things to do and people to see that it’s good to have a plan in mind and to watch out for those sketchy people out there.
I have always been the prepared type of person. I think it is important to go into a conference with a goal in mind or you won’t get as much out of it as you may like. In your post you mentioned that there may be as many as 1000 writers at ONE conference! That is very intimidating for someone like me who is just starting out in the literary world. Going back to what I said previously, setting goals for a conference will help with the anxiety one might feel when confronted by a potential crowd of 1000 writers.