Monday, September 28, 2009

Writers conferences

By Patricia Sargeant

I attended my local writers chapter's annual conference last weekend. Special guests were a national bestselling romantic suspense author, two electronic press publishers and two literary agents. The conference agenda included craft and business workshops.

The guests also participated on a panel discussion regarding the publishing industry. No one had a crystal ball to tell us what the next "hot" genre or subgenre would be. Everyone talked about doing your research on publishers and literary agencies before submitting to editors and agents. In fact, pet peeves included letters addressed to "Dear Sir; Mme." instead of being addressed to the specific editor or agent; and nonfiction submissions. So we should all definitely do our homework.

As I usually do after an event - whether a workshop, conference or book signing - I spend a few days mulling over what I got from the event to decide whether it was time - and money - well spent. So, what's the verdict?

1. The industry panel discussion was good, but I've heard that information before. I think in the future I should make more of an attempt to ask thought-provoking questions. After all, a Question-and-Answer session really is only as good as the questions.

2. The craft workshop I attended was interesting. But again, it didn't generate new insight for me. I tend to prefer craft books. They offer more information than a one- or two-hour workshop and I can.

3. I chose not to participate in the pitch sessions. I have a literary agent with whom I'm very comfortable, and I don't have a project I think would work well in the electronic press format.

OK. Three significant negatives there. Then what do I find attractive about conferences and even book signings?

The networking opportunities.

The two-day conference offers much more time and many more opportunities to chat with authors and inspiring authors about the market.

- What are you hearing?

- Which editors/agents are looking for what types of stories?

- Which editors/authors are moving from which houses?

- What lines are opening?

- Which ones are closing?

- Who's jumping on board and who's jumping off ship?

Information like this is very helpful - if not now, then at a later point in your career.

What was the last conference you attended and how did you benefit?

2 comments:

Rhonda McKnight said...

You know Pat it's the nature of the conference beast for established authors that you usually walk away from them not having learned much. Everything is geared to newbies.

I always sit in sessions trying to think of heavy hitter questions, but of course it's too late for my sieve of a brain to produce anything. So the networking is it and it's usually worth it.

Patricia Sargeant said...

Rhonda, I think you're right. Most conferences are geared toward newbies. But, as you said, they do offer great networking opportunities.

Thanks so much for posting a comment, Rhonda.

All the best!

Patricia

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