Are Writers’ Conferences a Waste of Your Writing Time?
Here’s your Writing Challenge of the Week, writers. Get it solidly into your heads that writers’ conferences can eat you alive.
That might sound a little on the melodramatic side, and obviously it isn’t literal. But remember what I said in Tuesday’s post: These things are businesses. Which means they want and need your money to survive.
Some of them are ethically driven and some of them are not. And it’s not always easy to tell which is which and who is who.
I remember going to one otherwise ethical writers’ conference where they were selling five-year-old marketing books to naïve or desperate attendees. That’s just wrong considering how quickly marketing moves these days, turning a five-year-old book on the subject into an irrelevant dinosaur.
The person or organization selling the book had to know as much. They’re not stupid. Just apparently selfish.
That’s why this Writing Challenge of the Week is a must-read. All of it.
Look into some writers’ conferences and see if they seem worthwhile for you.
There are writers’ conferences everywhere across the Western World and often in more exotic or off-the-beaten-path places too (though those are probably pricey).
There are also writers’ conferences out there for every single genre under the sun. So between location and focus, you’ve got a wide range to choose from.
Just pay attention to the second half of this challenge. Because these things aren’t automatically worthwhile.
Two days ago, I posed the question about whether the Lancaster Christian Writer’s Conference led “to good things, great things or no things,” then ditched you to “discuss that on Thursday with the writers’ conference-related Challenge.”
Since it’s Thursday now, here’s the answer. It led to good things.
I got some helpful marketing advice, had a lovely lady offer to review four of my books for me on her blog, Amazon and GoodReads, and got to spend time with a friend and former client who has a truly awesome book out on the market and a truly great idea for another book.
That was all really good. It was nice. It made this local and affordable conference totally worthwhile.
As such, I don’t want to put a “but” in here and downplay the positive experience. Good is good.
And great is great. When it comes to writers’ conferences, that means netting a publishing deal or snagging a literary agent’s attention.
Here’s the thing though: Those are the exceptions. Big time.
Thousands and thousands of writers go to writers’ conferences every year. They pay the money. They go to the lectures and discussions and workshops. They sign up for group sessions and one-on-ones with writing scouts.
You can tell this by simply doing an internet search for “writers’ conferences 2018 in Pennsylvania.” Do you know how many hits come up?
Clearly then, there’s a need, with plenty of businesses and organizations looking to fill that need. Even so, sometimes they fall flat. They either don’t meet their own promises or they don’t meet your expectations.
That’s why you need to know what you want before you put your money down for these shindigs. Are you looking for a publishing contract? A learning experience? Room to grow? An opportunity to network or hobnob with fellow writers?
If it’s the first, please be aware that the odds of you going into a writers’ conference and coming out with genuine, worthwhile attention from a literary agent or publishing press is extremely low. For most writers, it just doesn’t happen that way.
If you want a learning experience, then this might be a great option to explore. Just understand that you can get just as good writing and editing advice for free by downloading “Writing Tips 101,” which automatically signs you up for The Genuine Writer Weekly and all its tips, tricks and tactics to help you survive – and thrive – during your writing experience.
And if you’re looking to mingle, then make sure to set your introverted self aside and make the most of whatever networking opportunity you choose.
It’s partially up to you how worthwhile a writers’ conference turns out to be. You need to do your research, know what you want and have the confidence to go for it.
That last part – confidence – is something we’ll discuss further in Friday’s Writing Rule.
If you’re planning on speaking to literary agents at a writers’ conference, you can’t afford to miss this one.