Back in March, I posted a question on if Writing Conferences were worth the money…so I decided to test it out for myself and sign up for one.
Last weekend, I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC (after spending months talking myself in and out of actually attending). Now, my motivations for going to a writer’s conference may or may not be similar to yours. I wanted to learn about publishing options and the publishing/marketing process. Luckily for me, there were quite a few sessions that dealt with publishing (all different kinds, with feedback from authors and agents) and the business of selling books, as well as other sessions that taught me about important things that I never knew existed – like metadata.
In the end, the conference was definitely worth it for me. Here are some things to think about in order to determine if a conference would be right for you –
What are you hoping to get out of it?
-If you’re hoping to land an agent, editor, and publishing deal during a conference, then you’re going to want to scale back your expectations a bit. Many conferences allow writers an opportunity to pitch their novel or ideas to agents and editors. However, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll fall all over themselves and offer you a publishing deal right there. You can count yourself very fortunate and successful if an agent or editor asks you to send them a query letter or the first few chapters of your book. This is a big deal and if this happens to you, regardless of the outcome, you should be very proud.
These agent/editor sessions (essentially speed-dating, since you table hop to find your potential “partner”) are great practice even if you’re not finished with your novel. But don’t do it unless you feel like you’re ready.
-If you’re hoping to learn about something specific (like publishing), do your research and make sure that the conference has enough session on that subject. If it doesn’t, then wait to find one that’s right for you.
-If you’re hoping to meet other writers, again, do your research. If you only want to meet authors that are in your genre, you may want to pick a conference that’s more focused (like Thrillerfest if you write thrillers). But, if you’re open to meeting all kinds of authors, then go to one of the larger ones – it’s a great opportunity! I had a lot of fun meeting other authors (especially with the help of my one free drink – yippee!). But, before you go, think about printing up some author business cards. Sadly, I didn’t do this and really wish I had. But alas, there’s always next time for passing out pretty business cards (hmm, but first I have to decide on a design).
How much does it cost and how much can you afford?
-If you really want to go to a conference, but think the price is a little too steep, research to find if they have basic/cheaper packages or if you can save more money if you book in advance. Also look to see if there are other conferences closer to you (there are a ton of conferences), that would allow you to save on travel and hotel costs.