Friday, May 15, 2015

It’s Writers’ Conference Season, by Jim Hart

If you haven’t noticed, it’s writers’ conference season! If you have never attended a writers’ conference, I hope this inspires you to seek one out to attend.

Here are just a few reasons for attending a writers’ conference:

1) Access to industry professionals
There are numerous opportunities to meet with editors, agents and published authors. The opportunity to network and establish connections and relationships will prove to be of great value. Most writers’ conferences afford you the chance to meet one-on-one with agents and editors to present your proposal and ask questions.

2) Classes and workshops
You will find classes and presentations tailored for just about every phase of your writing life – from the ‘just getting started’ to the ‘seasoned veteran author’. You’ll discover classes and workshops that offer instruction in the many facets of the craft of writing, how to build and strengthen your author platform, current trends in publishing and so much more.

3) Fellowship with like-minded people
Writing can be a solitary endeavor. It’s a good thing to have an opportunity to be in the company of others who share your passion for writing, even if for just a day or two. For those in the Christian writing community the time to fellowship with others is very precious.

4) Energizing!
Or exhausting – or both! You will come away from a good conference with a renewed and refreshed vision for your writing goals.

5) Provide an edge
The knowledge that you come away with from a writers’ conference is invaluable. Today it’s so vital that you know as much as possible about the publishing industry. A growing knowledge of this business helps you to not just be competitive, but to also prioritize, set the right goals and continue taking the strongest steps in your writing life. This knowledge can help you from making poor and un-informed decisions regarding your writing and what is needed for you to be published.

Writers’ conferences come in all sizes, from small one day events to large ones that cover several days. But no matter the size of the conference you attend, you will always find something of value. A couple of years ago I had the chance to attend a small one day conference, in a small town, and the keynote speaker was the publisher of a small publishing house. But the information that he shared on the craft of writing was huge and the few dozen that attended more than got their money’s worth that day.

Here are just two things that will help you prepare for a conference:
1) Do your homework
When considering a writers’ conference look carefully at their curriculum and faculty. Target the classes and appointments that you want to take advantage of.

When deciding on the agents and editors with whom you wish to make an appointment, make sure that what you write matches what they are looking for. If you see that they are not looking at romantic suspense, it’s not a good idea to go ahead and pitch your romantic suspense anyway. Know who is looking for what before you even arrive at the conference.

Let me stress how important it is to be fully prepared for an appointment with an agent or editor. In most cases you will only have 15 minutes, and those minutes go by surprisingly quick. Be ready to ask specific questions.

Also note if an agent or editor prefers to see a paper proposal, or one on a flash drive. Traveling can make it difficult to collect printed proposals to take back to the office. For me, electronic proposals are just easier to deal with. Which leads to the next point:

2) Get your one-sheets, proposals and business cards ready
I can’t over emphasis how important it is to be prepared with a great proposal and one-sheets. If you have not already done this, find resources that will help you prepare your proposal. It will be worth it.

Sometimes an agent or editor is willing to take a one-sheet from a writer who was unable to schedule an appointment with them.

I’ve had writers come to an appointment who did not have a proposal, for various legitimate reasons. But they came prepared with questions! And most of the time they were the right questions and hopefully they left with new information to help them in their writing journey.

If you’ve been able to attend writer’s conferences, what have you found to be of the most value?

1 comment:

Linda Glaz said...

I attended one conference at which a person could sign up for all the appts they wanted. And one young man, who was no where near ready to submit, spent the entire conf at appts when what he needed was to be in the classrooms. Such a shame to waste all of his time at appts being told no. He might have been learning his craft.