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12 Reasons You Should Go To a Writers Conference


One way to grow as a writer is to attend a writers conference!

Now, I’m not a writers conference junkie, but I’d like to be. I know enough about them to understand that if you are in a climate controlled hotel ballroom, surrounded by writers from all over the world, with speakers and experts in front of you, then you’re in a great place to grow.

12 Reasons To Go To A Writers Conference by Katharine Grubb


You need to meet other writers in person.

In my limited conference experience, I’m always amazed at the diversity of the writers that I meet. They all aren’t bloggers like me. My writer friends don’t all have tendencies to publish quirky comedies like me. They may not know the first thing about writing a novel in 10 minutes a day. Because I do get the honor of meeting them, I expand my horizons. I’m encouraged by what they tell me. I’m interested in their projects and check them out. And I alway come away with new friends.

You need to practice your pitch.

Even if you never sit down with an agent or publisher, you will meet other writers who want to know what you write. You’ll need to be able to tell them in just thirty seconds. This takes practice. At a conference, you’ll have plenty of it.

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You need to learn at the feet of experts.

Any conference worth the price of admission will have speakers there who know more about the various aspects of writing than you do. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to ask questions of these experts. You can find out how they came to their conclusions and what advice they may have for you. Take advantage of any down time that you get to pick their brains and learn.

You need to get away from your life for a while.

At the last conference I attended, I got to spend fourteen glorious hours alone in a hotel room. I really loved it. For the first time in history, I ordered a pizza and ate it alone. I watched a Hitchcock movie and I wrote 3000 words without anyone interrupting me. It was heaven. I felt so refreshed the next day when I had to fly home.

You need to get some perspective.

If you are discouraged about your writing for whatever reason, a conference may have the people you need to encourage you. Many times we need to know that we aren’t alone in our professional struggles. Sometimes we need the brutal truth. Sometimes we need to look at our careers, not our current project. I think that getting out of one’s own setting can make a big difference in how we see ourselves.

You need to have one on one time with an agent.

Agents often don’t sign authors unless they have met them first. This is, in reality, a business relationship and many agents want writers that they can click with. Even if you aren’t quite ready for an agent, it wouldn’t hurt to get to know them, practice your pitch and get some questions answered.

You need to get advice.

Conferences are great places to get advice. Sometimes this advice comes from the speakers and workshops. Sometimes it comes from who you sat next to at lunch. None of us are so together that we can’t use a little insight. You can also eavesdrop if you want. Your neighbor may have asked the question you’ve always wanted to ask.

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You need freebies.

Depending on the size of the conference, sponsors will hand out swag. At the last conference I attended, there were t-shirts, coupons to local businesses, and other things that were given to the coordinators just for the attendees.

You need to find out more about your genre.

Conferences are great places to buddy up with people who know your genre inside and out. You may gain fresh insight and advice for your genre in a way that you could never have online. Some genres have their own conferences — like ACFW or RWA. Check out this list of conferences and see if your genre has an event you can go to.

You need to be a bit more humble.

Besides wading through the endless bins of used books at my local library’s annual sale, nothing makes me more humble than meeting a bunch of writers. Many of them have been writing longer than I have. Many have bigger platforms than I do. When I’m at a conference, especially a big one. I’m a pretty little fish. This is good for me. The day that I’m too big to go, or too important to engage, or too accomplished not to attend will be a sad, sad day.

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You need to get feedback.

Many conferences have contests or critique opportunities. These are good for you! You can learn where your weaknesses lie. Also, you can gain wisdom from the more mature and experienced. And you can even win something grand if you’re good enough.

You need to feel that you are not alone.

Writers, as tempting as it is to wrap yourself up in a solitary, lonely world with just your characters and your computer as your companions, please don’t neglect the importance of community. Reach out to other writers. Do this with online groups, local groups or conferences.

Conferences have the potential of making you a savvier, stronger writer. As you plan your 2017, make a commitment to get better and invest in yourself.

If you liked this post, you’ll like:

Free & Not-So-Free Writers’ Conferences For The Poor And Anthropophobic and

Top 10 Pro Tips For Attending A Writing Conference


a href=”http://www.10minutenovelists.com/img_7013/”>Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Plan Your Conferences The Right Way

by Jane Steen

It’s Conference Season!

What now?

Ever finished a conference season feeling you didn’t get much value for your money? Or are you still waiting to go to your first writers’ conference, paralyzed by the choices out there or worried about the cost? Here are some practical tips to help you approach next year’s conferences in great shape.


Decide on your needs

It’s best to approach conference season in light of your unique needs. Do you need to soak up advice about the writing craft? Do you want to learn about self-publishing? Do you want to pitch a story to agents? Do you want to make connections within your genre? Take a few minutes and write down your goals for next year. Then write down the one thing you’d like to achieve to make that year shine for you.

Make a shortlist

Don’t just focus on that conference your friend always goes to and which sounds cool. Search on “writers conference” and research what’s out there, then make a shortlist of conferences that might fit your needs and research some more. Make a spreadsheet to record the vital stats of each conference on your list—where it’s to be held, how much it costs, and what kind of sessions, workshops, classes or opportunities it offered this year (because next year’s offerings won’t be publicized until quite near the conference date).

Plan your time

When making your shortlist, note the dates of those conferences and compare them with your work and home calendars. Think about graduations, house moves, milestone events for family members, and work commitments for you and anyone else who’s going to be needed at home while you’re away. You might even need to plan around medical needs—if you know you’re heading for a knee replacement, get it done well before the conference.

Calculate the cost

There’s nothing worse than drawing near to the date of a conference and then realizing it’s going to make a much bigger hole in your bank account than you’d thought. Especially since conference fees are often non-refundable past a certain date, as the conference organizers have to make financial commitments based on the fees they’ve received. So be smart—once you’ve figured out one to three hot contenders for your time and money, calculate just how much money that’s going to be. You’ll be paying for the conference fee, a hotel stay, possibly meals (check this), travel to and from the conference, a new outfit or two and about $200 in incidental expenses. Think of the conference as a working vacation in an expensive resort, and you’ll get the picture.

If you’re not going to be able to afford the total cost of the conference, don’t sign up.

Don’t just assume the money will be there when you need it. Strategize alternatives—could you forgo a vacation to pay for the conference (negotiate this with your spouse if you have one)? Could you go to the cheaper local conference instead? Could you stay with a friend instead of at the hotel, or share a hotel room? Does the conference award scholarships, and how do you apply?

Be careful if you’re asked to be on a panel or help present a workshop at a conference, as many conferences expect presenters to work for nothing or next to nothing, to pay for their hotel room and travel, etc. If finances are an issue, make sure you know what the deal is before you say yes. Dropping out later because you’ve realized you can’t afford the trip will be awkward all round.

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Register early

If you’ve ascertained you can afford your target conference, sign up as early as you can. The early bird usually gets lower fees, the most favorable hotel rate, and guaranteed participation in events that fill up fast. Make a note of the date past which there’s no refund for cancellations, and set a reminder to review your schedule before the no-refund date to make sure nothing new has cropped up at work or at home.

Want to pitch? Research your agents

If you’re signing up for a conference because you have a manuscript to pitch to an agent or publisher, or think you’ll have one ready by the conference date, research those industry professionals meticulously before you sign up. You might only get one or two pitch sessions, so make sure you’re pitching to the very best fit you can find. And if you draw near the conference date and realize your manuscript won’t be ready after all, contact the organizers and release your spots to someone else. Don’t pitch an incomplete manuscript.

If you find these suggestions helpful, let us know in the comments. I have a few more for you—and perhaps Katharine will let me come back again!

Historical Romance Author Jane Steen

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters. Her book, House of Closed Doors can be found here.