Think writer's conferences are a waste of time? Here are 6 things you may be missing out on...
1. Business Connections: Where else can you workshop, pitch, and get feedback from other writers, editors, and agents? Get valuable advice from the people directly involved in the publishing world who want you to succeed. Remember, they want your book to sell--your success is their success.
2. Inspiration & Motivation: Stop working in a vacuum and check out what other people are working on. You never know where the inspiration may lead you. Also listening to other writers discuss what has worked for them and what hasn't can save you valuable time and extra effort. Why not learn from other people's mistakes?
3. Community: Along with being inspired and motivated, just simply being around other writer friends can make the difference between finishing or forgetting your short-short story or novel. Being part of a community of other writers can make you accountable and motivated to finish work. Also having people to bounce ideas off of who know what you are going through can help keep you going.
4. Resources: Technology and education is always evolving and you never know what new resources will help you accomplish your goals more thoroughly and more quickly.
5. Education: From learning how to pitch your novel, to self-publishing, and improving your craft, writer's conferences host a wide array of important and valuable topics that will help your book get noticed.
6. Fun SWAG: Free pens, notebooks, and other writing accoutrements. Who doesn't like free stuff?
The article below was originally published in print in Art Hive Magazine | Issue #23
Writing is a fairly solitary career choice. For many writers, being alone long enough, often enough, to get 80,000 words on the page is a significant challenge all by itself. But that isn’t where the story ends.
The completed novel must be edited and revised, and a cover created. The manuscript must be formatted for both print and electronic versions. In some cases, an illustrator is needed. And then there’s marketing. Commercial ads, book signings, and promotional swag all need to be created and posted where they will do the most good. Publishing a book, whether via a traditional publishing house or as an Indie author, is a daunting task, and no one person is an expert at all of it.
Seven years ago, I started writing my first novel. It was an amazing experience, but there was so much I didn’t know. From the craft of writing to marketing the completed work, I was a novice. I had no idea where to start. Then I saw an ad for a writing conference down in Bradenton, Florida.
And I went. And I learned.
Since then I’ve attended a number of conferences, many of them hosted by the Florida Writers Association. And I’ve continued to learn. A lot.
I’ve learned about story arc and characterization. About covers, and craft, and social media presence, and formatting. I’ve discovered writing groups and back cover blurbs, tag lines and elevator pitches and what agents really want. Best of all, I discovered a huge community of fellow writers, all willing to help each other succeed.
By 2013 I had finished my first novel, but I was still a novice. As of today, I have six novels, one collection of short stories and a novelette under my belt as well as entries in several anthologies...and I still go to conferences as often as possible. Why?
Because even though the writing itself is probably best done on my own, I didn’t get to this point alone. Attending writing conferences has given me the tools to create my best work. Conferences have introduced me to other authors and editors who have helped me sharpen my prose and given me fantastic marketing advice.
When I first started, my goal was a traditional publishing contract. At my first FWA conference, I had the opportunity to meet with agents and publishers and have them take a look at my work. This actually landed me a contract with a small press. Later, when I chose to pursue indie publishing, the FWA conference was my go to place to learn about cross promotion, social media and other forms of marketing, from Amazon algorithms to what to expect from a book signing. At FWA conferences, I’ve found resources for every aspect of the writing life.
I go to FWA conferences because they offer me more than just classes on craft. They offer a community of writers who understand my struggles, answer my questions, and afford me the space to pursue my dreams. The connections I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned there have made me a better writer. If all this sounds interesting, then I highly recommend that you make plans to attend the 16th Annual FWA Conference. I hope to see you there.
-Cheri Roman writes fantasy and paranormal young adult. She currently has two series in the works: Rephaim and The Witch of Forsythe High. Most days you can find her on her blog, The Brass Rag, or working on her next novel or short story. Cheri lives in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with her husband and Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua.