1. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Writing Conferences

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Gonissa, Feb 17, 2012.

    So who here goes to writing conferences? What goes on there? Does it help you get known and published?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A couple of thoughts:

    I've attended only three conferences, and presented at two smaller ones, so I'm not an expert.

    Not all conferences are created equal. Some have better guests and presenters and programming. Some are over priced and some that are in expensive--well, you get what you pay for. The best thing to do is to talk to folks who've attended before, if you can.

    Go with a purpose. If you have a completed manuscript, go to conference that offer a chance to pitch directly to an agent or an editor. It may cost a little extra, but it's your chance to avoid the slush pile.

    Be open and friendly. Have business cards, and follow up on contacts before you forget them and they forget you.

    Participate and ask questions. That's what you're there for. Of course, be balanced, between a wall flower type and an over-assertive boar type.

    I'd go to one that is local--that you can easily drive to and home, maybe a hotel stay for a night if needed. I don't think it's worth plane tickets and such, but that's just me.
     
  3. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I agree, stay local. Maybe if your favorite author of all time was presenting at one across the country, you may consider going. But they are everywhere.

    I've only been to one, but I definitely want to go again. There were classes all day, like lectures or discussions that zero in on various aspects of writing. We also got to meet with agents and pitch to them at various times throughout the first two days (It went F-Su). There was a Q&A with agents, which was really helpful because I wanted to know more about them, what they look for, etc.

    There are so many good things you can learn at a conference. Not just how to write better, but how to get published, how to hook an agent, what to do once you are published, what to look for in a contract, etc. There are usually 3 or more classes going on at the same time, so going with an agenda like TWErvin2 said is a good idea.

    One important aspect to becoming a good writer is educating yourself. If you didn't major in creative writing (which is fine, and often preferable for various reasons), then you need to learn how to become a better writer. Follow writing blogs, post questions on this forum, do critiques on this forum, listen to podcasts, read books on writing, read books in general, join a writing circle and GO TO CONFERENCES. When I went to the conference, it was like 6 months of independent studying in three days. I learned so much.

    I think the most important thing you can do is join a writing circle, and if you don't have one, chances are you can find one at a local writer's conference. That's how I joined my writing circle. Hand out business cards, get people's emails, and follow up with them later.
     
  4. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Okay. Got any conference stories for me?
     
  5. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Maybe. What do you mean exactly?
     
  6. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Eh, just the story of something interesting happening. Meet any cool people or learn something that's stuck with you?
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nothing too specific with this post as far as stories go, but general observation and experience...

    Agents, editors and even some authors are often overwhelmed with aspiring writers approaching them about their work in progress, completed mansucript, requests to send a copy of their latest manuscript to them for evauation/consideation. It can be like fending off a swarm of mosquitoes bewteen sessions.

    I've had 'normal' conversations with editors. I asked one who lived in NJ about how he managed a recent power outage (this was a while back). Met one walking in from the hotel parking lot, asked them about the vehicle they drove. A friend of mine was looking at purchasing that type of car, and wondered about the handling and comfort (the editor and my friend are both tall). Maybe it'll pay off in that they'll respond, asking why you're attending the conference--but if that's your objective of the excercise in courtesy--good luck.

    Seriously, I cannot speak for the women, but even in the restroom editors and agents aren't necessarily safe from being approached about a project or advice. Remember, editors and agents and authors are people too. Nothing like barely having dried your hands to accept a business card pushed at you.

    The editor from the parking lot example above asked why I was attending the conference. I indicated I was a science fiction writer. She said she published romance. I said, "I know." (I'd seen her photo in the conference's promotions when listing professional guests). That got an appreciative smile. For me, that was worth a lot.
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Here's my stupid story from a writers conference. By the way I really enjoyed the conference except the elevator bit.

    Things NOT to Say in an Elevator

    I hadn’t quite gotten into the Writers’ Conference mindset as I climbed onto the elevator with three other ladies Thursday night. We were all on our way to a pre-conference Practice Pitch session and there was a sense of camaraderie. We introduced ourselves and then as the elevator rose there was a moment of silence.

    “I’m a virgin,” one lady blurted out of the blue. (It must have been the shock of that comment, but I truly don’t remember any of the names.)

    Too-much-information blush colored my cheeks as I shrunk further into the elevator corner feeling suddenly claustrophobic.

    Then one of the other ladies said, “This is my first conference too.”

    The light bulb flipped on and I remembered I was at a writers’ conference; creative ways of saying things were a given.

    The next morning in the elevator I decided to take the proactive approach at the conversation. My hope was that I could preempt the strange comments that get blurted out in quiet elevators. I said, “Let’s hear someone’s elevator pitch.”

    The ladies looked at me blankly. I knew the ladies were part of the writers’ conference; they had name tags, like mine. The term “elevator pitch” is fairly common among writers. It refers to telling the basic storyline of your book in the 30 seconds you’re in the elevator. The thought being if you are in the elevator with an agent, you could pitch your book before the doors open and you lose their undivided attention.

    “Give us yours so we know what it is,” one of the ladies finally said.

    My tongue took that moment to completely forget that it knew how to speak. I stammered through a few sentences without any flow or rhythm. Then, about halfway through my pitch, I paused a bit too long between sentences.

    The lady smiled politely and said, “That’s interesting.”

    I decided to take the stairs after that.
     

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