Why spend the time, the money, and the energy to go to a writer’s conference? Is it really worth it? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why.
Improve your writing
Writers at any level can improve their skills. While some conferences offer hands on classes, others talk about technique. But, simply listening to how different writers approach the writing process from brainstorming to outlining to revision can jar you loose from bad practices or just set you on a better course. Methods of building memorable characters or clarifying plot lines can move your manuscript from good to great. While there may be diminishing returns if you have been successfully published, the path to continue to get published is to keep growing in your craft.
Learn the business
Although writing is a craft, publishing is a business. If you don’t know the game you are playing, you probably won’t win. At the recent SCBWI Conference, we were told that it is best sellers market. Over and over, the message was to put out the best possible work you can produce. (See reason #1) But, the question is what is that exactly? The publishing industry is facing a time of immense change. Find out the current trends, the open avenues, how to submit, what to submit, and how not to piss off an editor. Once you are published, even before you are published you need to learn how to market your work so that your book will do well. Fail at that and your next book might not get sold at all.
Network with others
It’s been said that you are 6 people away from the person you need to know in the publishing industry. It’s a little like the Kevin Bacon connection, but a lot more important. Your job at a conference is to meet people, talk with people, and suck up as much knowledge as you can. You will meet others in your genre or local area and have lunch. You’ll talk about writers you know, classes you know and they will tell you in return. Every contact at a conference is incredibly important to you as an author. You can’t afford to wait until you are published before you start making connections.
The one things all conferences have in common is the energy you bring home. You’ll have new tricks and technical knowledge that you’ll want to try on your own writing. You’ll have made connections you would like to foster. But, maybe most importantly, you’ll have seen writers who have “made it.” The ones that were once writers just like you. Now they are published authors, held on high with awards and accolades. You have dreams that it could be you someday. You are home and truly inspired.
Are you ready to go? Here are 2 writers conferences for children’s writers:
MD/WV/DE SCBWI Spring Conference March 31, 2012
NJ SCBWI Annual Conference – June 3, 4, 5, 2012
What do you think? Have been to one or more? Is it worth it?