Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Attending A Conference Worth Your Time & Money?

Are you an author who aspires to be published, or perhaps one that is already published but is aware that the craft of writing is an ongoing learning and enhancement process? If the answer is yes to either of these scenarios, then you should seriously consider attending at least one conference a year. I know that they can be costly, but good conferences happen all over the country on an annual basis. So I'm sure that there must be one near you, or at least one that is within driving distance or a train ride away. Although I can't give you a way to attend for free, I can tell you that the answer posed in the title of this post is a resounding YES.

Like everything else, conferences are really what you make of them. Chances are that if you are interested enough in the publishing industry to be reading this, and you sign up to attend a conference, you are already on the right path.

Conferences are organized events where authors can congregate to meet each other, agents and editors, and attend some really wonderful and constructive panels and workshops. Although these may vary in content and structure from conference to conference, the one thing I say for certain is that no matter who you are, your level of skill and pedigree, you will learn something.

I have been to many conferences since even before I started agenting, and without fail every time I go to a conference I return home and to my office feeling more integrated and knowledgeable about what is going on in the industry and writing overall. When I attend conferences I usually take pitches from authors, do a panel, give a speech, or teach a workshop. Each one of these things is a way for me to give back, but inebitably they also help me to meet more contacts, find talent and when I steel away and crash someone else's workshop...(I do this at least once a day at every conference shhh don't tell anyone) I always learn something. And I'm sure that most attendees would say the same thing.

So my advice would be to do some research and check out the different conferences. You may find one near you that is great for all writers or one that is specialized for your specific genre of fiction. Before signing up take a look at the proposed schedule so that you know what workshops and offerings you want to take advantage of because you may be able to sign up for specific parts of the conference. So best of luck in finding the right conference for you, and I hope you enjoy attending.

Here's a list of some great conferences. One of these may be good for you. Check them out. Maybe I'll see you there too.

Writers Digest Conference - January, New York City
DFW Conference- February, TX
San Francisco Writer's Conference - February, CA
Liberty States Fiction Writer's Conference- March, NJ
Unicorn Writer's Conference- April, CT
New England Young Writer's- May, VT
BackSpace Writers- May
Crested Butte- June 17-19, CO
Jackson Hole- June, WY
RWA- July, NYC
New England Writers- July, VT
Hampton Roads- Sept, VA
Rocky Mountain Writer's Conference- Sept, CO
Florida Writers- October, FL
New England Crime Bake- November, MA

Happy attending, happy learning, and happy writing!



  1. I've always thought about going but money or time has been an issue. I want to try to go to the San Francisco Writer's Conference this year.

    Thanks for the great advice!

  2. I just returned from a conference that rejuvenated my creativity and taught me many valuable things. It was exactly what I needed right now and I'm so glad I went. I couldn't agree with you more! Conferences are worth the investment. In a few weeks I'll be attending the San Francisco conference. Maybe I'll see you there!

  3. My highlight at my last conference was hanging out with you. See you at National this year.
    Cathleen Ross

  4. "I have been to many conferences since even before I started agenting, and without fail every time I go to a conference I return home and to my office feeling more integrated and knowledgeable about what is going on in the industry and writing overall."

    Yes, yes and yes! I go to the Western Washington SCWBI conference once a year now--it's a scrape and save kind of thing to get me there, but so worth it. You come away inspired and full of new knowledge that keeps you moving forward with your writing journey.

    There are a group of writers who host a free on-line conference called Write On Con--so if cost is an issue, getting away from home another this would be a good option to at least get the feel of the energy, spirit, inspiration, atmosphere of learning.

    Still, if you can make it to a in-person...I still agree, try and make it happen. You will not regret it. 'Kay, that is quite enough from me!

    Enjoy your upcoming conferences everyone!

  5. Great post! Attending DFW conference (my first one ever) and this has me super psyched!

  6. I recently registered for my regional SCBWI conference in April. I attended last year for the first time, and it was well worth the money. Another plus is it's only ten minutes from my house so I didn't have to pay for a hotel room. Enjoy the conferences you are attending. I wish you were coming to some by me!

  7. I would love to get lost at one of these conferences... they just seem enchanting, and some of the locales are exotic to this author, lol... the people are cut from a literary cloth, something I greatly admire... Needless to say, i would LOVE to meet you at a writer's conference, if only to revel in your energy... you are clearly hi-octane...