I went to my first writers’ conference last year and attending it was arguably the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only did I leave the conference feeling energized and excited to get back to my desk, but I made contact with people who have the same goals I have. Writers’ conferences are patronized by writers from all over the U.S. (and sometimes the world); you can attend powerful workshops, hear interesting speakers and even meet agents and editors who might want to look at your work. I’m not saying that you’ll leave a writers’ conference with a book deal, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
No two writers’ conferences are exactly the same, but they all have speakers, workshops and booths. Writers have time to get to know one another at meals and often, awards are distributed. Some writers’ conferences, such as those hosted by the Mystery Writers Association of America, offer one-on-one coaching with editors and professional writers for an additional fee, while others will give agents, editors and writers a chance to meet. Following are the top eight reasons why you should attend a writers’ conference.
Reason #1: Meeting Like-Minded Individuals
One of the best reasons for attending a writers’ conference is the opportunity to meet other writers whose goals and aspirations mirror your own. There is something to be said for a strong support structure, and many writers don’t have friends and family members with the same interests. Writers’ conferences give you the opportunity to connect with other writers who are dealing with the same issues you are.
Reason #2: Acquiring Practical Information
You can read as many articles and books as you’d like, but actually listening to an expert speak on a subject is an entirely different experience. Writers’ conferences are designed to provide writers with practical information regarding their craft. From selling books to acquiring new clients to managing your finances to negotiating contracts, the workshops and speeches at writers’ conferences will ultimately give you some of the best information you’ve ever learned.
Reason #3: Learning Insider Information
Not only are writers’ conferences geared toward writers, but in most cases, they are also conducted by writers. You won’t be hearing lectures from professors or academics (for the most part), but getting insider information directly from the horse’s mouth. Editors, publishers, professional writers and novelists are often present at writers’ conferences and they are the best people from which to learn.
Reason #4: Acquiring Motivation
Every freelance writer goes through a slump every once in a while and some are ready to give up altogether before attending a writers’ conference. When you go to one of these events, you’ll hear about the successes of other writers, which will make you want to achieve your own success.
Reason #5: Winning Prizes & Contests
Most writers’ conferences have prizes and contests that are announced during the conference. Writing contests as well as door prizes are yours for the winning, so what can be better than coming away with something tangible? And even if you don’t win a prize or a contest, you’ll still be energized to come back next year and take a shot again.
Reason #6: Accruing New Interests
Writers’ conferences are available to writers of all backgrounds and expertise and you might learn of a new genre or type of writing that you’ve never considered before. Just because you’ve never tried non-fiction writing doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be successful at it and you might learn something new about a genre for which you could write and sell your work.
Reason #7: Finding New Markets
When you attend a writers’ conference, you can expect to meet dozens of editors and agents who represent different markets, as well as writers who have experienced markets you’ve never pursued. This is especially valuable because, no matter how many times you’ve scoured Writer’s Market, there’s no way you can discover every market for which you might want to write.
Reason #8: Continuing Education
Most professions require (or at least encourage) you to continue you education in some way or another. Writers’ conferences are excellent for continuing education, particularly if you have been in the freelance writing world for many years. You can learn new tips and tricks as well as changes to the industry, which is highly valuable.