Writing Conference Success: The Conferences are Coming!

Mary AndonianBy Mary Andonian

“The agent wants to see my first forty pages.”

“The editor wants to publish my ‘How-To’ book.”

“The Hollywood producer wants the rights to my Young Adult series.”

You hear these things all the time at a writers’ conference. So what’s holding YOU back? If you’ve ever considered going to a conference, this is your year! We’re going to get you ready so you can put your best foot forward, regardless of where you are in your writing career.

Why a conference? You could spend time and money on any number of things: writing courses (both in person and on-line), writing critique groups, an M.F.A. degree, editing services, and instructional books, to name a few. Each contributes to your writing in special ways. But only at a writers’ conference will you come face-to-face with the very people who BUY what you write. If you want to start selling your product—your words—then it’s time to find out what those agents and editors are saying about your merchandise. You can only do that at a conference. A good conference.

What’s a good conference? They’re the ones that have a little bit of everything: established agents and editors who actually buy the types of things you’re writing, workshops that will help you improve your writing, business strategies to help you market your writing business, and networking opportunities with other writers. If they offer a writing critique service, then you’ve hit the mother lode.

Action steps this month:
Find the conference you want to attend this year, and when you find it, mark those conference dates on your calendar using a big, fat, permanent red marker. Pamela Kim’s column, The Conference Confab (see below) offers tips for the most promising upcoming conferences. If you’d like to do a wider search online, Google the words “writers’ conference,” along with your city and state (or province or country, etc.). You can also access www.shawguides.com, and search under their “Writers Conference” tab. And don’t forget the two trade publications devoted to writing: Writers Digest and The Writer. Both magazines offer a “Conference” tab on their websites.

What NOT to Do:
Some conferences look shiny, exotic and expensive because, well, they’re shiny, exotic and expensive! That doesn’t mean they’re the best conference for you. Don’t get distracted by the glitz. Instead, go for local/accessible, targeted toward your specific needs, and pitch-oriented.
Mary Andonian is the agents and editors coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference—one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator. She just completed her second book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth. You can reach her at (maryandonianwwconferencATyahoo.com).

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