This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Writers Blog Tour roll for Monday, August 8, 2011. Today’s subject is Writer’s Conferences. This roll started with KT Wagner’s blog, followed by Mollie Cox Bryan’s blog. Thanks KT for getting us started and Mollie for introducing my blog. We hope that you will take the time today, or this week, to visit each blog on this roll. The list of participants follows my article.
And now, on to my thoughts on Writer’s Conferences
I’ve attended large conferences, and small ones. Both have their positive and negative qualities. Large conferences draw more big names, and have more of a variety of classes. But I found myself frazzled by the end of each day and when it was over I needed a few days to recoup.Though I went home with dozens of business cards, I didn’t really remember anyone, except James Patterson and I’m sure he didn’t remember me. The classes were great, but short and filled with others who had questions, so sometimes I didn’t get to speak.And I spent way too much money.
Then there are the small conferences. They may be a little shorter, have fewer participants and fewer classes, but they have something their big counterparts lack. Here’s a perfect example. A chapter of RWA in Shreveport call themselves the NOLA Stars. They meet once a month, have about twenty-five to thirty members at any one time, and sponsor a great little conference each March called Written In The Stars.
I’ve been an insider at this conference and know for a fact that everyone involved in the planning, teaching, sharing, etc., cares about every participant. We usually limit the participants to one-hundred. The conference starts with a finger-foods tete a tete Friday night. This is where the small conference shines. Editors, agents, and all levels of writers rub elbows, converse, tell jokes, and talk writing. I’ve actually stood talking with Jennifer Blake as if we were old friends. I’ve gotten advice from multi-selling authors on my WIP. I’ve talked to agents and editors on a personal level.
There is also an awards luncheon where the Suzannah Contestants find out who won, and someone in the business does a little talk on what’s new in the industry, or how they made their start.
The next day is filled with panels of editors and agents who answer questions about their companies/agencies. Then classes start–only a couple, but excellent–usually by names like Jennifer Crusie, JoAnn Rock (a member of NOLA Stars), Debbie Macomber and Judith Ivory, and senior editors from major publishing houses. There are always special teachers who share their experience and knowledge, and enough time to cover a topic thoroughly and get questions answered.
Oh, and the prizes! A table full of books, tea pots, mugs, knick-knacks, do-hickies, and whatchamacallits, sit in the back of the room, waiting to be chosen by someone who has purchased a chance to win. A dollar could get you a great book on writing–or a basket full of a variety of books from different authors. I once won a basket filled with books, mugs, bookmarks, and choclate all from Christine Feehan. Great books. Huge mugs. Wonderful chocolate. Thank you Christine.
There are the individual pitch sessions, where you get five minutes to pitch your book to an editor or agent. And that five minutes it yours. Even if they are not interested in your book, you will learn tons by just getting in there and participating.
Saturday night is the big dinner when you get to sit by the agents, editors, writers, teachers, and all around giving people, who often drink a margarita or two, and enjoy a meal–we have to reserve a whole room at the restaurant for this event.
You can see where my heart lies on this subject. I had great experiences at large conferences, but for me, the less expensive and more personal small conference wins out every time. If you get a chance to attand a writer’s conference, I hope you take advantage of it. Large or small, which ever you choose to attend, it will be well worth it.
I hope this article has been helpful to you, and also that you will visit the other participants on this roll and see what they have to say about Writer’s Conferences. Next on the list is Sara Wisseman’s blog: http://www.sarahwisseman.blogspot.com/ Thanks for visiting. Come back soon.
KT Wagner http://www.northernlightsgothic.com/blog
Mollie Bryan http://www.molliecoxbryan.com
Ryder Islington http://www.ryderislington.wordpress.com
Sarah Wisseman http://www.sarahwisseman.blogspot.com/
Kathleen Kaska http://www.kathleenkaskawritesblogspot.com