Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Your Dream Conference by Andy Scheer

If you could plan the ideal writers conference, what would you include?

That's not a hypothetical question. As part of my job as editor for a writers organization, I'll soon be planning a writers conference for early in 2014.

So here's your chance to help design the perfect conference. As a writer, what would you most like to see in a conference—something you've not been able to get at the ones you've attended.

Just a few guidelines: Please limit your suggestions to what's feasible. (Forget a free, all-expenses paid, two-week conference in Tahiti. Ditto kidnapping top editors of major publishers and not releasing them until they sign multi-book contracts.)

The location and dates are already set. The organizers envision meeting at a major hotel over four days: beginning Thursday evening and concluding by noon Sunday.

The other distinctive: This conference would focus on the needs of book authors (none of the usual classes for beginning writers on writing basics and how to break into magazines).

Your turn: Over four days, what do you most need to improve and expand your range of skills? You're helping invent the ideal conference for book writers. What does it look like?

8 comments:

sally apokedak said...

I always want to have opportunity to get my work in front of agents and editors. So I would want a crit opportunity. I like the conferences that charge an extra forty dollars for a crit by an agent or editor or top author. You get the crit plus a half hour appointment. Those are my favorite conferences to go to because you can teach me all day about writing, but when you get into the specific problems I have in my writing, I really learn something.

I'm also attracted by a chance to win a contest. But that takes quite a bit more work. One conference I love allows all the ones giving the paid critiques to nominate one of their manuscripts for an award (they aren't required to nominate if they don't want). Out of those nominated a panel of three judges picks the top pick The winner there usually goes on to get a healthy publishing contract (this is a big conference with great writers). I love chances for healthy competition with other writers because it helps me to judge where I am with my writing.

Rick Barry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Barry said...

Although some conferences do well at the following, not all of them do. Please consider...

1. Including a system whereby no conferee (wittingly or not) can poach another another writer's appointment time with an author or editor by getting there first. It's so unpleasant having to clear my throat and say, "Um, you know, this really is my assigned appointment time...." Likewise for making sure each conferee leaves at the end of said appointment, since running overtime shortens the next person's opportunity.

2. I love sessions (even if they're optional, informal ones before bed) in which pros moderate public critiques of several manuscript pages read aloud by volunteers. These provide instant feedback from both peers and people in the business. So beneficial.

I wish you well in your planning!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Hmmm...I rather like that kidnapping of editors idea...

But I definitely agree w/Sally. Crits from editors are EXTREMELY helpful, even if you're already published, b/c you're doubtless working on/mulling over your next book.

Also, I'm sure published authors are extremely interested in the best ways to market. Which, these days, involves more online/techie stuff than in-person stuff, I'd imagine.

And I'm actually imagining all this, since I'm not pubbed yet. I just think it would be cool to meet my agent at a conference someday!

Katherine Hyde said...

1. High-level craft classes/ workshops that do not have an arbitrary publication requirement to attend. If you need to filter people, do it by writing sample. I'm talking the level of Davis Bunn and up—helping writers who are already good become better.

2. Opportunity to submit MSS to editors who work outside of CBA as well as within it but are open to spiritual-themed fiction. Ideally, I'd want to be able to submit a MS ahead of time and then talk to them, but even a raw pitch would be helpful.

writebonnierose said...

I would have benefited from a hands-on class explaining how to effectively use social media. Nuts and bolts-like how to create a professional presence on Facebook, what the benefits of Pinterest are, etc...

One feature I have been particularly blessed by is something I was introduced to at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference (PA). They have a Timothy Program, where first time conferees meet with a conference veteran, have someone to eat that intimidating first meal with, and just have someone to go to, to ask any question, as it comes up. I realize you asked for things we haven't experienced yet, but this single gift of friendship has meant more to my writing than any class I have taken.

Linda Glaz said...

Rebecca, that is precisely what happens at most Christian confs. at least, in my experience. Tables are "hosted" by agents and editors and folks can talk with them through the meal. Does it work? That's how I met Terry and I connected with some authors at the last conf from hosting my own table. So? Yes, it works, and it's much nicer than being accosted in the rest room. Rest rooms are for "resting" not pitching. And, yes, I have had an "elevator" pitch done on an elevator. So, you see, there's plenty of time. Just DON'T BE SHY! Get right up there and introduce yourself to the agent or editor. Have fun!

Kate Dunkin said...

Great post Andy! I actually have often thought about this, I'm so happy I came across your blog while looking at Bible colleges because this was truly a great read. Thank you for sharing this with us!