Writers Conferences—the nuts and bolts—and what you can get out of going to one.
•You’ll connect with new writer friends. Those connections are valuable especially since you’re all going through the process.
•Your newly met friends may become your allies and accountability partners.
•You’ll clarify your book concept. Every time you practice talking about your book (not just writing it), you’ll get clearer about the direction you want to take.
•You’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn. Sessions, lunch gatherings, and happy-hour mingling will present opportunities, which you didn’t expect.
Attending a conference:
Here in my greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been to several writer’s conferences, workshops, and the like, each of which garnered from our community. Last weekend, September 29 & 30, I stepped it up a notch by attending a conference which invited writers from all-around. Although, still here in Cincinnati, people came from as far away as California, New York, and Canada.
Given by Writer’s Digest, it was at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, with a friendly hotel ambiance that was comfortable, and plush. Before even hitting the check-in table, I met up with an online friend, Amy for breakfast, to meet in person for the first time—she lives in the New York area. Amy is an industry leader when it comes to teaching new authors how to promote our book(s) and I’ve been one of her groupies for more than a year.
When my book was hitting publication, I retained her marketing services for her know-how and action that I see she puts in to her passion. You see, an author is always responsible for carrying some, if not all the burden in marketing efforts. A publisher; most any publisher won’t do it all, nor could they even if they tried. My publisher is involved in the social media end of things, but they can’t walk with me in my daily commute to promote my book.
My breakfast time with Amy was not to talk business, but for us to get to know one another on a more personal level. I already knew we are the same age (by two months, I’m the older one)—we were in a group video conference on the day of her last birthday. Come to find out over breakfast, we have much more than age in common. It was an invaluable connection.
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With about 75 writers and authors in attendance, we mingled in the conference room, anxious for the 9:00 hour to start it off. At the front of the room was the podium. We took our seats, with many seats to choose from and four chairs to each table, all facing the front. Each table came with a carafe of water and a place to put our complimentary coffee. Through small talk, we encouraged each other to be proud of our published books. This could be seen as many of us pulled our book out of our tote bag (or attaché case or backpack) and laid it prominently on our table.
The conference opened with a presentation by another well-respected industry leader, Jane Friedman. She gave us her experience in publishing options and then how to proceed once published (the latter of which I tuned in to).
The weekend continued, all day Saturday and much of Sunday, with break-out sessions, guest speakers, and networking with fellow writers through lunch. Our break-out sessions spanned the gamut from readership connection to social media use to audio book consideration, and oh, so much more. Even Amy had her share of leading workshops during these break-outs.
Key-note speakers were Zetta Elliott (children’s author) and Tobias Buckell (sci-fi author). With the conference focused on diversity, Zetta shared her journey with us, as an African American woman who writes stories which give a voice to the diverse reality of children.
(and keep reading)
Aside from the structure in these sessions and listening to speakers, it proved to be an awesome opportunity to meet others. I learned from other authors who are a step or more ahead of me, and I shared my experience with those who are where I was a year or so ago.
Overall, it was great to see a big picture of opportunities and choices available to authors in our writing careers. This big picture will carry me forward as I continue to learn and make informed decisions, which ultimately will benefit readers.
A writing conference comes with nuggets:
•The craft and business of your writing life is enhanced when joining forces with others.
•It keeps you abreast of the rapidly changing shifts in the industry so that you can make informed decisions for the best-fit path in your journey.
•Its uplifting and motivational to be surrounded by other writers. The writing process can be solitary. Being surrounded by other writers who are also going through the process is motivating.
Conferences gives us the venue to invest in our dreams….
Like the protagonists in the books we read or write, we too have turning points in our journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams, learn all we can, teach others through our experience, and do the action.
If you are a writer, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you saw in yourself after going to a conference?
If you are a reader, curious about my writing life, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference for your craft or profession? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you had after going to a conference? And if you knew your favorite author attended conferences, would this influence your opinion of that author?
Please join in the replying comments below. As writers and readers, we come together; it’s a “we thing.” -Elle-