Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
If you’re an unpublished/unagented writer, then you probably know that writers’ conferences are a great place to meet agents and editors. But today I want to make clear: There are plenty of other good reasons to attend a conference – even if you already have an agent and/or a publisher.
1. The workshops can be valuable.
Teacher, doctors, lawyers, financial advisors and many other professionals are required to take a certain number of hours per year of ongoing instruction. Think of yourself as a professional engaged in this kind of continuing education. You might be brushing up on some skills you already have or you might learn something new; you might get updated information on the latest trends in your industry; you may hear interesting discussions about the future and what to expect. You can gain new insights in your writing, and gather interesting marketing or social networking ideas. At the very least, you can get inspiration and encouragement.
2. It’s nice to know you’re part of something larger than yourself.
Writing is such a solitary endeavor, and it helps to be reminded that “the industry” is not a big scary impersonal thing, it’s a community populated by real people who are passionate about writing and publishing. When you spend most of your time sitting alone at your laptop, it helps to feel like you’re part of this community. Conferences are one of the best ways to become a part of it.
3. You can make real, long-lasting friendships with other writers.
Conferences can introduce you to a whole world of like-minded people, and when you go back home, you can stay in touch via the Internet. Many writers don’t have anyone in their “real life” who gets it—who understands what it means to be a writer. It’s crucial to make those friends who can be there for you, year round.
4. Ongoing networking is crucial—and fun.
Even if you have a publisher, don’t underestimate the value of continuing contact with writers, publishers and editors. If you go to conferences repeatedly, your face and your name may become familiar to people in the business. And you never know what might come of that. One day your publisher might decide they don’t want to publish your genre any more; being on a first-name basis with a dozen other editors can’t hurt.
Of course, there is some protocol involved. If you have an agent and you’re happily contracted with a publisher, you might socialize with other agents and editors, but you won’t want to be seen in those one-on-one appointments with an agent or editor. (Except for your own.) Tongues will wag, your loyalty will be questioned, and you may get a negative reputation. (Even if you’re looking for a new agent, this is best done discreetly.)
If you’re an agented author, it’s a good idea to discuss the conference with your agent before you go. She’ll let you know if you should be having meetings with editors, and if so, she can help you determine which ones to target.
One caveat: Authors sometimes ask me if they “should” go to a conference. I say, first and foremost, take care of your own needs. If it’s a financial hardship, or it’s simply too difficult for you to be away from your family for a few days, then DON’T feel pressured to do it. But if you have determined that it’s a priority, and you can swing it, I recommend one conference a year for most writers. Some attend two or more. Some go to one every other year. Figure out what works for you.
Are you going to any writer’s conferences this year?
Are you published? Going to a writers’ conference? 4 reasons you should: Click to Tweet.
Networking, friends, education – reasons published authors attend conferences: Click to Tweet.
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