If you’re serious about writing, a conference can set you on the right road. From how to submit, workshops on writing craft,or meeting editors and agents, a writing conference can teach you how to turn writing from a hobby into a working career. But which conference would be the best to start at? How do you know when and where to get started? Here are some tips on what I’ve learned from attending conferences and starting my writing career over the last 5 years.
There are several things to consider when choosing to go a writing conference. The first step is to find a conference for your writing genre. Many conferences are genre or writing market based. Whether you write adult fiction, children’s books, or romance novels, some conferences zero in on your specific writing. This will be a crucial first step so you can find a starting point. If you know what writing you are already doing, this will guide you to the right market and conference.
Another starting point are writing groups. There are several organizations for writers that support with conferences for their members. My writing group, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is for writers and illustrators in the area of children’s books. Another writing group I’ve heard of is the Mystery Writers of America. Both these groups host their own national and regional writing conferences. Other resources are literary magazines that offer workshops to writers. I’ve been invited to several, including one hosted by Highlights Magazine.
However, sometimes the next factor really comes into play, the cost. I found I get a lot out of the smaller, local chapter conferences than national. The cost also tends to be lower for local chapter conferences. Some literary magazines sponsor workshops. They are helpful for craft, but tend to be very expensive. The higher cost doesn’t mean better. So I suggest to shop around to find the best deal within your budget. Plus, travel costs do need to be factored in, especially if you need to stay in a hotel. Sometimes the local conferences are more cost effective since hotel stays are not needed.
You also need to learn where you are in the writing process. Are you just beginning? Do you have a manuscript ready or you want to find an agent? Not sure where you are at now as a writer? Sometimes just going to a writing conference can sort out all this confusion. The steps of writing and the writing business are presented and reviewed in many conference classes. It will help you discover what part of the writing process you are currently at.
After five years of following this dream, I have two self-published books that are currently selling on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble.com, and Smashwords. I’ve just received a fabulous Kirkus Review for my second book, and I’m working on my third book’s first draft manuscript. Going to writing conferences has allowed me to find out the information I needed to get my dream started. I’ve developed my writing craft, learned how to promote myself, and continue to keep writing books that inspire my readers. In the end, going to a writing conference will pay off for the effort and money put into it. It is all worth it if it contributes to a fabulous book that sells. This is everyone’s dream.