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Writers’ Conferences: Where the Ones Who Made It Go

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Have you ever heard of HarperCollins? Hatchette? Macmillan? Penguin Random House? Simon & Schuster?

No doubt, you have. Because, no doubt, if you clicked on this blog post, you’re a writer who wants to do something with your writing. You want to publish it and show it off and get good reviews from people who couldn’t put it down.

You might even want to be someone with your writing. Someone who signs autographs at book premieres, and has thousands – maybe even tens of thousands – of followers on Twitter and who gets paid to speak to rapt, sold-out audiences in significantly sized auditoriums.

But, before you get to that point, you need to first get someone to write something.

And then you need to finish something.

And then you need to polish something.

And then you need people to notice that you did all of that.

What we’re discussing this week is one way to accomplish at least some of those goals. And maybe even get noticed by HarperCollins, Hatchette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House or Simon & Schuster while you’re at it.

There are so many resources out there for writers to utilize these days. They come in book, online and face-to-face formats alike. They also come in free, cheap and expensive packages, depending on which one you choose.

For the record, the resource right below is typically going to be on the more expensive side. And it’s definitely going to be face to face. Or at least face to crowd.

Writers’ Conference:
Not to be confused with a writers’ retreat, this is an event designed to bring writers together for the main purpose of making room for unknowns to mingle with publishers, agents, editors, marketers and other writers.
It can take place over a day, a weekend or longer, and usually includes classes or workshops, and featured speakers. There are also typically opportunities available to interact directly with industry insiders, though you might have to pay extra for those sessions depending on the exact writers’ conference we’re talking about.

In fact, you’ll probably have to pay extra for those sessions. Unless we’re talking about very small, intimate groups, getting to meet in-touch industry individuals in person – instead of just sitting in a big room listening to them speak with plenty of other people – is going to be an add-on.

And add-ons are just part and parcel with the writers’ conference package. That’s both to generate more money and for logistical purposes, since there are only so many insiders to go around in the midst of so many more attendees.

Are you getting the impression that these are big events?

They can be. They can be pretty massive in fact. For instance, consider the Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference in none other than Los Angeles, California. While it doesn’t say how many attendees typically sign up, it boasts “more than 40 literary agents, veteran educators, industry professionals, professional editors, and publishers in the craft and business of writing…”

It also includes close to 50 workshops. So it’s not difficult to imagine it’s a multi-day event that a lot of people go to.

Then again, you also have the Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. That annual event might easily feature just seven speakers and nine workshops, with less than two hundred attendees all told.

But one way or the other, they’re almost always – if not always – going to be bigger than your standard writing retreat.

So, no matter how much you want that shot at a big publishing house contract… keep that in mind while you’re determining whether a writers’ conference is right for you.

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