Attending a writers conference is one of the best investments you can make as a writer. Why? It’s a great opportunity to network with other writers and industry professionals. Many agents and editors are more open to receive the proposals of writers they meet at conferences. It’s only natural.
But those national conferences are so expensive. My advice–start with a local or regional conference. The benefits of a smaller conference include a shorter time commitment, reduced costs, and they’re less overwhelming than a large conference.
My first conference was a regional writers conference with attendance peaking at about 125. There was only one agent, Terry Burns, who served as the keynote speaker. But I got to meet with him, talk to him at mealtimes, and learn how to approach agents. The whole process was less nerve-wracking in the smaller environment. Though still a nail-biter, getting that first agent sit-down out of the way was definitely worth it.
At the conference there were also a few published writers whose stories encouraged me to keep going. Zondervan author Deborah Vogts had a great workshop on facing rejection which I mentioned in my Writers Tip #5. Her rejection kit of a band-aid, a piece of chocolate, and a scripture verse was the cutest idea. Since it takes a bit more than chocolate to get over rejection, her tips for coping and moving on are nuggets of wisdom I come back to each time I get that dreaded letter. Needless to say, I learned a lot from the workshops and came home energized to jump into the next phase of my writing.
The conference was also great for meeting new people. Through the conference’s Facebook page, I met my roommate for the conference and we became great friends. Last week’s guest blog was from a friend I met at the conference. An editor I met at the conference sent out a call for stories for a collection, and I’m working on one right now. Writing is a solitary activity most of the time. It’s nice to get out of the writing cave and meet new people. It’s especially fulfilling to connect with other writers, if only to remember that there is a community of writers out there willing to help each other.
I’d absolutely love to attend a national writers conference, but the cost of the conference, plus lodging, and travel expenses put it way out of my price range. (Barring a miracle from God 🙂 ) That’s why the regional conference was a great first step for me. A two-day conference at less than a hundred dollars? Can’t beat that.
Your turn! Find a writer’s conference in your area. You can Google for writer’s conferences in your area, or check out Sally Stuart’s Christian writers guide. I heard about this conference from writers in my ACFW group. You may have to do some digging to find the right conference for you. But it will be worth it.