Blogger: Rachel Kent
There are many benefits to attending large writers’ conferences like ACFW, but smaller conferences have some great perks, too!
First is cost. The big conferences have to bring in a large faculty from all over to a large, expensive hotel. The registration fee has to be high. A small conference typically tries to tap in to local editors and agents to reduce some of that expense. And many of them are hosted at churches to reduce the overhead charges. Also, you can most likely find a Christian writers’ conference in your area–or at least within driving distance. Not having to pay for airline tickets will make a big difference in cost.
Even with a smaller faculty, the editors, freelancers, and agents are usually a great group of people. A lot of editors, freelancers, and agents like that the small conferences tend to be shorter, too. Less time away from the desk means that you don’t fall (as far) behind in your deadlines and office work. Faculty also like staying local if they can, so finding a small conference near a publishing house or agency you are interested in might lead to a meeting with a dream editor or agent.
A small conference is also a great opportunity for new writers to learn the ropes and to get connected. If you’ve never been to a conference, sometimes starting small is the best way to go. You can learn from all of the instructors and also get an idea of how the conferences work before you invest a lot to attend a big, expensive one. And sometimes writers aren’t even sure they want to be writers. A small conference is a great place to figure out if writing might be a good fit for you. The small conferences tend to be less overwhelming than the large conferences. A new writer can feel more at home because it’s likely that there will be many other writers at your level at the same conference. The bigger conferences draw more published writers–which is awesome because you get to meet and learn from them–but it also means that the majority of the workshops might not be just right for you.
I’ve had positive experiences when I served on faculty at the San Diego Christian Writers’ Guild Conference; the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association conference in Seattle, Washington; Write! Canada in Ontario; and the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference in Estes Park. All of the conferences were in beautiful locations, too! The smaller number of attendees meant that the editors, freelancers, and agents all got to meet with a large percentage of the people there. And two of these conferences had group appointments to alleviate the pressure of meeting with an industry professional. I’ve been to other small conferences, too, and all of them have been nice!
Mary Keeley and Wendy Lawton have enjoyed the SPEAK UP conference in Grand Rapids, MI in the past. It’s not as small as some of the conferences, but it’s a great one! I asked Mary about her experience there and she reported that the faculty was really good and the conference is unique because it caters to speakers and authors. There were a lot of new and unpublished authors in attendance. The total attendance was around 200.
What other small conferences have you attended?
What do you like about them?
SPEAK UP Scholarship Opportunity:
If you are interested in attending a conference this year, one of our blog commenters, Sheila King, wanted me to pass along some information about scholarships for the SPEAK UP 2015 Conference. A supporter of the conference has donated 6 full tuition scholarships (worth $450) for writers. The scholarships will be given out based on need. If you would like more information about this, please contact Sheila: SheilaKingauthor @ gmail.com (You will need to remove the spaces in the email address.)
Even if you don’t need a scholarship, feel free to check out the conference link to see if this one might be a good fit for you.