Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May Conferences: Intro

Conference season is upon us! First time? Seasoned pro? This month I'll be covering the basics and hopefully some advanced tips and tricks to help you navigate this wondrous new world.

You may be thinking, "I'm an awesome writer. Psssh, why do I need a conference? I don't like people."

I may be thinking, "Unless you're guaranteed to make me lots of money, please play nice with others."

But also, conferences are just fun. I have several lined up and, from the agent side at least, love them. And I've heard from my fair share of writers how much conferences help them. It's a great place to meet other writers, network, find or form a critique group, perfect your pitch, learn valuable info, and yes, meet agents.

While I always hope to find a client at conferences, it's not the reason I'm there. Of the, say, dozen conferences I've been to, I've signed one client from the hundreds that have pitched me. I am always looking. But the main reason I go to conferences is to teach, to network as well with other agents, writers, and editors.

Conferences are, at the very essence of their existence, a place for writers to learn. Attend as many sessions, classes, lectures, pitch sessions, critiques, and workshops as you can. When the presenter asks for questions, ask them. If you're in a pitch session with an agent and have extra time, pick their brain.

You're there to learn. We're there to teach you.

But why should you attend a conference? Can't you get all that good learning online? Yes, probably. But there is something about a conference, a big gathering of like minded people in one place, at one time, that cannot be substituted. Try it. Just once. My bet is you'll love it.

Besides, we're all in the business of imagination. Get off the couch and create your own adventure. You might get some inspiration.

Please, as with all my topic months, leave questions here. I'll answer what I can during the month and leave all the rest for my FAQ at the end of the month.

Do you have a conference success story? Find an agent there? Your best writing buddy? That one final push to polish your ms? The inspiration to scrap your ms of 15 years and start anew?

Happy writing!


Nicole McLaughlin said...

I just went to my very first conference over the weekend. Loved it. Lots of learning, networking and eating!! :)

You're right, being around like minded people and away from the mundane is motivating and fun.

I also pitched three times, and got requests. (eek) So I'd say it was an awesome experience!! :) Can't wait to hear what else you have to say!

Taryn said...

I've been to one, and I'm going to, uh, 1.5 this summer (.5 b/c I'm technically teaching at it). But the one I went to? Found my crit group, met my business partner, got connected to the agent for whom I now intern, and indirectly signed with you (it's a long story. I'll recount it at some point). CONFERENCES!!! <3 Also two of my CPs just had a SUPER successful LDS Storymakers conference (pitches! contests! connections!) so I'll all full of warm and fuzzies for Real Writing People Conventions.

Anonymous said...

I love reading blog posts about conferences. The do's and don't's from an agent perspective are priceless.

I haven't attended one yet but I plan to soon. Just by getting out there over the last year by blogging and joining twitter has helped me meet so many people in the writing industry, including my local critique group. I know a conference will do me good. The above comments make me giddy with anticipation.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on the subject, Vickie!

Katie said...

Great topic! I just registered for my first conference in June. I haven't read much into the subject, but I'd love your do's and don'ts for first time conference attendees.

Stephsco said...

I just went to my first writing focused conference (RWA North Chicago) and was so impressed by it I fear I may become a conference junkie. :) I learned a lot, most importantly that this is a business, and although writing is "fun" it requires work and lots of research to be successful in it.

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I found out about PNWA from you, and attended last year. It was a PHENOMENAL experience, and I would recommend it to EVERYONE. I learned so much (query letter bootcamp, first page and synopsis being torn apart), plus, I got to meet with agents and editors.

Plus, there were free drinks :) I love conferences!

Mart Ramirez said...

I would LOVE to go to a conference. One day I will. I have to. I think you are right, I will def fall in love. Looking frwd to reading your series. Keep 'em coming!

Melissa said...

I pitched at a conference last May and my book just hit stores this March.

I went to the same conference confident in my skills. That night I looked over a flash fiction piece I've edited up the wazoo and found three problems one of the presenters warned us about.

There's always so much to learn.

The Writer Librarian said...

Just attended my first writer's conference two weeks ago--and it was everything you said and more.

My question is: What is proper email etiquette for an agent who has requested a partial? Query format? Conversational? With attachments or without?


Emily said...

My comment is sort of specific, but it is about conferences. I attended a conference organized by a literary agency. At the conference the agents invited us to query them with the name of the conference in the memo line with "query" and they would give our query "special attention." I assume, one of the perks of paying to be at their conference.

One of my friends from the conference queried, per their instructions, and got an automated rejection. I guess I assumed there would be, at the very least, some feedback as part of the "special attention." I've heard this at other conferences as well. What is the protocol for conference queries? Would you give extra attention/feedback to a query you'd received via a conference?

Just to be clear, these are not "requests" from pitches, just blanket queries from a specific conference.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Do you know if there is a good resource online listing conferences and linking to information for individual conferences? I've been hoping to find a writing conference within driving distance of my house, but I haven't been able to find one. I live in a relatively major metropolitan area (halfway between DC and Baltimore) and I've been surprised at the lack of writing conferences around here.

Unfortunately, the ones I do hear about are usually via Twitter, and usually during or immediately after the conference ends! How can we research which conferences are coming up soon, in time to buy tickets, etc.? Thanks so much!