Conferences are more than pitching, although if writers are honest they admit that’s why they are really attending. At least mostly.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some other reasons to attend a writing conference?
- Workshop with the Famous. You’ll be surprised at how many of your favorite authors hold workshops. And just as many no-names are great teachers of the craft. Sign up for a mixture. Some well-known authors are lousy teachers and some unknowns are fabulous. Hear what the noted ones say, but don’t sign up exclusively based on the name unless you know the teaching track record. And don’t assume the no-names have nothing to teach you.
- Track the Trends. Most conferences now hold talks or workshops on the changing industry, what themes are hot and which are yesterday’s news. A conference is a great place to get your finger on the pulse of writing. Don’t drop everything if you hear that your type of book isn’t selling (although this is discouraging)–seems as if the memoir category is never selling, yet every year several make bestseller lists. And of course, try not to leap on whatever bandwagon is the hot ticket–it will likely take you too long to finish a manuscript to get in on the trend.
- Network! You knew I was going to say this, right? Writers from all over the globe attend these conferences. Get to know some of them. Sit next to someone you don’t know at meals or in a workshop. Strike up a conversation in the ladies’ room line or during “happy hour.” You never know how the next writer you meet will figure into your career. Besides, the more people you know (take a big batch of business cards with you to hand out), the more potential readers you will grow.
- Next Year? Say the finance gods or some circumstance prevented you from attending a conference this year. Start planning today for the next cycle (you don’t really think Dec. 21, 2012 is the end of the world, right?). If it is, you have one more year to get to one. Set aside a little money each month, inquire about possible scholarships, get a benefactor, ask for the time off at work–whatever it takes. A writing conference might be the next crucial step in your writing career. To find out about conferences dates and locations, consult a writer’s market book or Poets & Writers Magazine.