Sunday, February 17, 2013

Do You Need To Writer's Conference?

I've heard the belief for years--if you are SERIOUS about your writing career then you must attend writer's conferences. Period. If you don't then you aren't really serious. I get this belief. I really, really do. But I don't necessary agree with it.

Is it wise to attend a writer's conference? Sure. It's probably a very important thing to do, though I have never attended one myself. It's not for lack of want, it's just that I haven't been able to. Period. Does that mean I'm not a real writer? I don't know, let's ask the 11 books I have under contract.

This summer I hope to attend my very first writer's conference. It is only a one day conference, and it is in my own state, but that is what's reasonable for me. If you are like me, and attending the "big" conferences is out of the question for you (for now), you can try some of the things I did. I will focus on just one in this post. Check back later for more info.

READ!

I read lots of books. Books in the genre I want to write (this includes picture books and novels), and books about writing. My favorites (meaning the ones I find particularly useful) are Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. Happy reading!



15 comments:

  1. Great post. Even though I've attended several conferences they are usually small and in-state. Not everyone has the money to attend the "conference". Thanks again for this positive post.
    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"
    "Murder in Marietta"

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Deborah! I am really looking forward to attending the conference this summer.

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  2. Katie, there's WriteOnCon every August. It's online and it's free. That might be good for you. I've attended it and there's always lots of great info.

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    1. Absolutely, Kelly. In fact, WriteOnCon is part of my next post! :)

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    2. I like WriteOnCon, but I do feel it's limited in some respects, and in general we need more opportunities to network online.

      I still feel a lot of best networking and workshops (BEYOND writing better query letters) are at the big offline events, which I can't afford.

      There's only so much you can gleam from market guides and web resources. Sometimes it feels like learning about publishing is harder than actually publishing. I know I'm being silly, but it does FEEL that way sometimes. I hope that's not just me.

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    3. Taurean, I definitely feel that attending an in-person conference is extremely beneficial. However, I do get weary of being made to feel "lesser" because I haven't attended a conference. I wanted to break down for others how I continued my writing career even without a conference.

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    4. I understand where you're coming from, KatieC.

      I feel the same way.

      I felt the same kind of pressure about people suggesting I self-publish when I couldn't get an agent and until recently, hadn't attracted a publisher. I know that's not the same thing, but in terms of money, it's just as challenging as going to a conference, for me, anyway.

      Still, it's good you made the point that many writers today still achieve their goals without ever going to conferences, like you've done and are still doing.


      But I do feel some agents or publishers are only in reach via conferences, for whatever reason, and when you have a hard to sell niche like I do, it can be a BIG DEAL if the most of the markets that are most likely to be receptive to what you're writing only take submissions (Whether we're talking query letter, synopses, and/or sample chapters) from in-person conferences.

      As much as I get and find value from self-study, at home point, you need feedback you can't always get from writer friends, however honest and through they are.


      I wasn't arguing against what you're saying, but I also found for me there's only so much I can teach myself, and at some point (Much as I don't subscribe to the "Writing by Committee), my judgement alone isn't enough.

      Keep in mind, I say this in the context of trying to get an agent or building a relationship with publishers who publish what you're writing, versus drafting a book or story in progress, okay?

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  3. Thanks, Katie. I barely have time to write and attend to my website, much less attend writer's conferences. I do have hopes for that infamous "someday" though. :)

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    1. You're welcome, Renee! And thanks for stopping by :).

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  4. I've never been to a writer's conference either, Katie. Online ones sound great for introverts like me. I agree it's great for mingling and support, but not necessarily for writing. Ann Whitford Paul's book is a treasure!

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    1. Yes, Claudine, Ann's book has been a tremendous help to me :).

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  5. I do believe that writer's conferences are a great thing to attend. I've attended several close-by conferences and I come out feeling uplifted and raring to go each time. However, I don't think that proves you are a serious writer! some people just don't have the time or money to attend. What makes you a serious writer is writing and finding out everything you can about how to become published.

    Congratulations on your 11 book contracts! That is a true writer because you have proven you are serious about your craft.

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    1. Thanks Allyn! That is something I look forward to the most about attending my 1st conference--the encouragement and excitement to keep writing!

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  6. Last year was the first time I went to a conference - y type thing. It wasn't a full-blown conference, but it was a one-day event, and I thought it was fabulous.

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    1. That's great, Ruth! I can't wait to attend in June.

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