Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to attend and speak at writer’s conferences in the US and abroad. I find it to be one of the more enjoyable activities I perform as part of my duties. I think if you are in the midst of a manuscript, or trying to understand what it means to be an author today, attending a well-run writer’s conference can be a good investment of time and money.
It can be overwhelming, but worth it.
If you have never been to a conference, or if you are new to the publishing world, or if you have been previously published through a traditional publisher, attending a writer’s conference can prove very helpful for a number of reasons.
You will be inspired and encouraged by like-minded people.
Writing a book can be a lonely process. Many times, it is you and your notepad and keypad, working through the excitement and doubts of finishing a manuscript. While in most cases, you can find support with friends and family, it is not the same as sharing the experience with someone who knows the joys and struggles of writing a book. But at writer’s conferences, you will find people who know exactly what you are going through. They can provide tips and suggestions. In fact I am always amazed at the relationships, connections and even friendships that can be built in a weekend at a conference.
You will learn about all the options you have as an author.
It is the best time in history, but it is also the most confusing time to be an author because you have more choice and opportunity than ever before. So it is important you have a clear understanding of what options you have and what publishing path is the best one for you to pursue for your book or project. That’s why it is important to check the keynote and breakout sessions for the conference. If they are only focused on one area of publishing, such as agents, I think that is less optimal. Look for a schedule that includes a variety of perspectives and experiences. I think that is most beneficial.
You will hear tips on how to improve your skill as a writer.
Writing is a craft and it is work. So it is important to learn from those who have experience and success. As with any skill, you can learn from others and they can help you get better at what you do. For example, one of the best tips I ever heard at a writer’s conference was a successful author shared that she took acting classes. Not because she ever wanted to become an actress, but because she thought doing that would help her write better dialogue in her books. I thought that was brilliant when I heard it and showed what type of commitment it takes to improve your skill.
You will develop a better understanding of marketing.
Most first time authors do not always understand what part they will have to play in marketing their book. In fact for many authors, marketing is a mystery. I personally enjoy speaking about marketing to authors so they can better understand what they need to do to build a platform and a following for their book. Good conferences will include a variety of workshops on marketing so look for those in the schedule in the mean time, I have written a whitepaper titled, The 3 Phases of an Effective Book Marketing Campaign that many authors have found helpful.
So which conference should you attend?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend and speak at a number of conferences. I am sure there are more than what I have listed and linked to below, but I can say each of these offers writers a great opportunity to improve their craft, make some great connections and be inspired to get to their goal. If you plan to attend one of these let me know. I have already committed to speak at some of them and look forward to meeting you in person.