One of my favorite comments to hear as an agent during a writer’s conference is when a first-time attendee says, “Oh wow. I’ve gotten way more out of this than I expected!” Signing up for a writer’s conference can be scary, especially when inflation and uncertainty can create a scarcity mindset.
If your writing career or hobby is important to you, don’t ever stop investing in yourself. You are worth the investment!
Today, I’m sharing four priceless perks that come with attending a writer’s conference that are often ignored or underestimated. Here’s what we usually consider when signing up for a writer’s conference:
- Cost – What is the total cost for registration, travel, accommodation, meals, and other expenses?
- Convenience – Is the conference in a desired location and fits in with your schedule?
- Connection – What are the conference features that motivate a desire for you to register?
These are all important factors that should be considered, but four priceless perks far outweigh the cost. Here they are:
- Sharing a Meal with Publishing Professionals, Agents, or Editors
Publishing is a people business and one of the best ways to get to know someone is over a meal! Eating lunch or dinner at an agent- or editor-hosted table is a priceless perk of attending a writer’s conference. While hosted tables aren’t guaranteed for every conference, they’re often available, at least at the Christian writer’s conferences I attend.
In this casual setting, you get to see if you connect with the agent, ask questions face-to-face and often a chance to talk about your proposal or manuscript.
- Learning Directly from Agents and Editors
Publishing is complicated, and access to agents and editors is limited. But, at a writer’s conference, you can attend multiple workshops hosted by editors or agents. Again, this is a chance for them to get to know you and give you the insights and extra inside scoop that you can’t glean from a blog post or monthly newsletter.
There’s a fabulous kicker to this priceless perk: If you participate in a workshop of an agent whom you plan to approach later, you get to incorporate that personal connection into your approach. Just make sure that you also incorporate the agent or editor’s advice into your work. That’s very important!
- Meeting Your Favorite Authors
Again, I can’t speak for all conferences, but generally, the Christian writer’s conferences I attend have an atmosphere of kindness, humility, and generosity. This means that you might be standing in a coffee line in front of a successful author who’s there at the conference to learn alongside you.
Most established authors are happy to answer questions or share their stories because they know the ups and downs of a writer’s journey. But, be cool! If it’s a well-known or best-selling author, honor their time by asking one question and then thanking them for their time. If they invite you to stick around, then go for it. But otherwise, be gracious and don’t wear them out.
- Getting Out of Your Own Head
Writers need other writers to thrive in the solitary task of creating meaningful words and stories. It’s good to meet in a monthly critique group or mastermind, but I propose that an annual mental reset is vital to a healthy writing career.
While a writer’s conference can ignite flashes of insecurity or envy, which is normal for everyone, it’s important to weigh the big picture benefit over the momentary struggle. When you sign up with a positive, open-handed attitude and then surround yourself at the conference with other positive, encouraging writers and knowledgeable publishing professionals, you’re setting yourself up for wonderful wins that will come at both expected and unexpected times.
At the beginning of the new year, I invite you to choose an in-person conference to attend this year and sign up! A few conferences are moving into wait lists, so don’t delay.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What are some of your favorite writer’s conferences? List them below. Also, share a “priceless perk” that you’ve experienced at a writer’s conference.