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!