Why Attend a Writers Conference?
As a writer, whether you’re published or pre-published, there are a lot of different ways to build your network. If you’re a member of Swoon Reads, you’ve already taken the first big step in immersing yourself in a group of writers dedicated to helping each other improve and grow. You may also be part of a critique group that meets online or in person to share and discuss your writing. And you’re probably involved in some type of social media that allows you to connect with other authors and have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the wonderful world of YA.
So what comes next?
I’m here to advocate for attending a writers conference.
What is a writers conference, you ask? Writers conferences come in various shapes and sizes, from one-day events that host thirty authors to week-long affairs with hundreds and hundreds of attendees. They take place around the world, from Australia to Hawaii to New York to the Netherlands, and they can focus on specific genres (like the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conferences, which focus on kid lit) or welcome writers of all types of books (like the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference, held in Seattle, Washington). At their core, writers conferences are a chance for writers at all stages of their publication journey to come together, improve their craft, and get to know agents, editors, and art directors who they may someday work with.
So what’s so great about these conferences (besides the chance to hang out with fellow writing nerds and stay in a hotel, which is never not fun)? These conferences give you a chance to have IRL interactions with other authors who you can add to your all-important network. On top of that, conferences often feature talks with editors and agents, which can range from forty-five minute breakout sessions to three-hour intensives, about various elements of the publishing business and the craft of writing. You’re guaranteed to leave a conference brimming with ideas about how to improve your work in progress and with a phone full of new writer friends’ numbers.
The #1 reason to attend a conference? Conferences are one of the best ways to get energized and get inspired. As an editor, I leave every conference I attend with a stack of new books to read, a heart brimming with love for the writing community, and even a desire to break open Microsoft Word and start a story—and I’m an editor, not a writer!
What about the scary part of conferences? Will you have to meet everyone? Will you have to travel to somewhere far away or somewhere expensive? What if an editor reads your first 10 pages and doesn’t love them? Well, no, you don’t have to meet everyone; you can have whatever type of social experience you want. Even shy people can have fun at a conference. And there are probably affordable conferences in your backyard—you won’t know till you look! Lastly, even if an editor doesn’t fall in love, they’re at the conference to give you valuable feedback on how to make your book better.
So take the leap! Try a conference. Put yourself out there. I promise you won’t regret it.
Have you ever attended a writers conference, and what did you think? What writers conferences are on your #tobeattended list?