After a year and a half of writer’s conferences being canceled or virtual due to Covid—they’re starting to come back! But what’s the deal with writer’s conferences anyway? Should you even bother to attend one? After all, can’t you get most of the same information from books or on the internet?
Yes. Yes, you can. You can get most of the same information from books and the internet. There are dozens of resources out there on craft and the business of writing. But that’s not the true value of a writer’s conference. The true value of a writer’s conference comes down to one main word (but we’ll expound on the other reasons, too)…
Networking at Writer’s Conferences
Let’s face it: writing is a profession that has a tendency to attract introverts. And even if you are an extroverted writer, chances are you don’t have a ton of connections within the writing and publishing community. But you know where you can meet LOTS of people in the writing and publishing community?
Yup. You got it. Writing conferences.
Writing conferences are set up by people in the writing community. Experts in the writing and publishing world are invited to these conferences to speak and give lectures and classes. At some conferences, you can even meet and pitch your manuscript to publishing professionals like editors and agents.
But while it might be cool to meet some editors and agents and leading industry experts, the networking that I think is most beneficial is actually the networking you can do with other authors and writers. And that is because networking leads to…
Ever wanted to be a part of a critique group?
Would you be interested in being on a local podcast?
Is it useful to have other authors of the same or greater level of experience as you to vent or ask questions to?
These are all opportunities that can come your way with being a part of the community of writers. Participating in the community of writers is an excellent way to meet and talk to other writers who can help you in your journey to finish your story or to publication. At writer’s conferences, you can use networking to your advantage to meet new faces who share your interest in writing.
These other writers can sometimes be the key to things you wouldn’t expect: critique groups can help give you the feedback and encouragement you need to finish your book. Other authors may be able to provide you with advanced praise or blurbs for your book. Someone following the same path to publication as you may be able to help you when you just don’t know what to do about a publication issue.
I’ve focused on networking as the most valuable aspect of writer’s conferences—but that doesn’t mean I think the education isn’t important, too. While a book might provide you with the same information as a conference session, often conference sessions are designed to give you the most important points on a topic. That’s a pretty big deal.
On top of that, because publishing and writing experts are at writer’s conferences, they can give you insider information that you might not hear anywhere else. Exposing yourself to new topics can also open your eyes to ideas that you may not have ever considered—both with your craft and the business of writing.
While there are many options out there for among conferences—including regional, genre, and topic-specific—there’s something for every writer at conferences. Go: you’ll miss a lot if you don’t.