We just discussed Rocking the Conference Circuit, but let’s back up and discuss why bother going to one in the first place? They cost money, you probably won’t know anyone there, and you’ll feel like a phony because you aren’t published. I mean you’re not a REAL writer, right? Or hey, maybe you ARE published so what’s the point?
Most of these excuses are about FEAR and to be a part of this industry one must be FEARLESS, at least to some degree. So buck up, stop your kvetching, and take a leap. This is an investment in your future as a writer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised…and energized by being amidst a hoard of industry professionals and serious writers. Just look at all the perks. You’ll:
CONNECT WITH WRITERS IN YOUR GENRE Conferences are a great opportunity to meet writers both in your genre and outside of it. If you’d really like to target your genre only, choose a conference geared specifically for you. (See the list below.)
BUILD YOUR PLATFORM Making connections with other writers is ultimately a way to expand your platform. Collect business cards and exchange information. As I’ve mentioned before, follow up and develop these friendships online and you’ll see your readership grow. Remember, word of mouth is key!
EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE BASE Conferences are usually packed with informative seminars on craft, platform advice, industry news, and agent/editor panels. There’s always something to learn, even if you’re a seasoned, professional writer.
MEET WITH AGENTS OR EDITORS that you’ve been dying to meet. Whether this happens in the form of a pitch or feedback session, or by simply introducing yourself to them, connect! Tell them how much you enjoy the books they represent or ask a few burning questions you’ve had about the business, what they are looking for in a client, etc.
HAVE FUN Mingle, learn, listen to keynote addresses by known authors, meet up with Twitter pals in person. Take pictures, buy books and have them signed, eat lunch with a hottie. Whatever. Enjoy yourself!
So now you’re convinced you should go, but…
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH CONFERENCES TO ATTEND?
Follow the buzz on Twitter and Facebook, but also ask other writes and dig around online. There are quality conferences in most states, though, admittedly, there are more in some regions than others. (NYC & New England, specifically) Here are a few of the larger conferences that are up & coming in order by date:
Unicorn Conference: Portland, CT, April 28th–All genres
Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Conference: Dallas, May 19-20th–All genres
Backspace Writers Conference: New York City, May 24-27– Lit, wom fic, hisfic, contemp Adult, YA
Algonkian New York Pitch Conference: NYC, June 21-24th– All genres
Romance Writers of America: Anaheim, CA, July 25-28th
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators: Los Angeles, CA Aug 3rd-9th– Pic books, MG, YA
Williamette Valley Conference: Portland, OR, August 3rd-5th– All genres
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers: Denver, Co, Sept 7-9th– All genres
Moonlight and Magnolias: Atlanta, GA, Oct 5-7th
Mystery Writers Conferences: This page has a long list of conferences for mystery/crime/thriller writers all over the country
Romance Writers of America Conferences: This page lists conference events all over the country month by month.