So you want to attend a writers’ conference? First time? Even BETTER!
There are so many great ones out there. Before you make any decisions, make sure you do your research, talk to others that have gone; listen to what they might have to say.
Most conferences have their agenda listed with plenty of time to review it beforehand. Read over it carefully so you can plan your conference experience.
What do you want to accomplish? This is important to decide, because if you’re there just to socialize, you’re not maximizing the resources writers’ conferences offer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with meeting other authors, but it probably wouldn’t be beneficial if this is your main attendance goal.
Authors attend conferences for many reasons, but here are a few main benefits that draw people.
*Pitching: This is a fantastic opportunity that is rather unique to writers’ conferences. Personal, face-to-face contact with editors and agents who want to give you a shot. Believe it or not, they attend conferences for some of the same reasons authors do, but the positive thing here is these particular editors and agents make time because they are actively seeking quality work. No waiting on that pesky email.
Sometimes these are what we would consider big deal editors from the coveted New York Houses that you don’t get into without an agent. This is a major benefit of a conference. On the same token, agents are not always easy to gain. Speaking to one face to face, whether from a big agency or not is a great opportunity. You can make an impression so they remember you, even if your current project isn’t for them.
This alone can be a great reason to attend a conference. But make sure you research well. Some conferences charge extra for this perk, and some don’t.
If you’re a conference virgin, even the thought could have you shaking in your boots, but don’t. Editors and agents are people, too. They enjoy talking to you. Just think of it like this: You can practice your pitch all you want, but if it’s not natural, it can lose appeal even if your words are awesome. So speak to an editor or agent as if you’re telling your best friend about your book. No one knows the book better than you do.
Don’t let nerves make you miss out on this conference-unique opportunity.
*Workshops: Most conferences have a variety of sessions that cover everything from craft to marketing. What the conferences offer can also be a deciding factor in which conference you choose. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, whether you’re pre-published or have several books out there, you never stop learning as an author. The more you write, the better you get.
So, look at the agenda (most, if not all, will have it available beforehand) and see which would benefit you. Workshops can be a great reason to attend a conference.
*Book Signings: A perk of many a conference is a book signing that’s open to the public. Hopefully this won’t be your only reason for attending a conference, but it can be a nice experience as well. You can get your name and your book(s) out to other authors as well as the general public.
If you are going to take part in a signing at a conference, ask questions. Will they have a sponsor? Will you have to be your own cashier for the books you sell? Will sales benefit a charity? (This is very common at conference book signings) and research what turnout they usually have, if the conference is annual so you can plan the number of books and swag you need to bring.
*Networking: Another awesome reason for attending a conference! Read the brochure/agenda to see what headliners will be at the conference of your choice. Then, make it a point to speak to these people. Yes, you really can talk to famous authors! Just like editors and agents, they’re people, too! You never know what kind of friends you could make—for life.
Let your inner social butterfly can come out and shine! It pays to talk to people. Writing, like any other industry can depend on who you know. So make some contacts! Get business cards and keep them handy.
Other authors, editors, agents, you never know who can be around the corner, at a meal, even hanging out in the lobby at the conference. Make use of free time by being observant. Read name badges. Don’t be afraid to ask other authors what they write. And remember, when someone asks what you write—they really do want to know.
You could end up with a fantastic critique partner or some awesome new reads.
Other factors to consider in choosing which writer’s conferences to attend are:
*Genre Specific: Make sure you pick a conference that includes the genre in which you write. If your stories are mainly thriller or science fiction, then attending a romance based conference won’t be as helpful. There are plenty of conferences that are more specific to a particular genre that gears many of their workshops and key speakers to that genre. Pay close attention to those. But of course don’t completely disregard the broader conferences like the Writer’s Digest Conference (http://www.writersdigestconference.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=61986&), where many big editors and agents always attend looking for new talent to add to their lineup.
*Budget: How much can you spend in a given year on these conferences? Between registration fees, airfare, hotels, food, books, contests, and other miscellaneous items, the endeavor can get expensive. The best conferences are those that do not charge extra for pitch sessions, specific workshops or even parking. Make sure you choose one that has all of those included (unless you don’t plan to pitch your manuscript). Another tip is to choose conferences that are geographically close, saving you the cost of airfare and/or hotel. Or if you have several friends all attending, split the costs by sharing a hotel room and make a road trip out of it. Most conferences also offer an ‘early-bird’ rate, so book early if you can. Some conferences also give out ‘scholarships’ to help ease the cost to a few individuals who present a financial or business need.
*Workshops: Make sure you review the list of workshops presented, and who is presenting them. The best conferences are packed with exceptional workshops on a variety of topics, on improving craft, managing your business, and industry trends. Workshops that will be relevant to where you are in your career. You shouldn’t have any ‘free’ blocks in your schedule. There should be so many interesting classes you just have to attend, how can you possibly choose between them. Research the presenters as well: are they experienced in what they’re presenting? Have they given it the presentation before and have others found it helpful?
*Attendings Agents/Editors/Authors: If you’re pitching a novel or just want to meet the experts in the industry, make sure the ones you’re really interested in plan on attending. Conferences will always list the names of presenting authors, agents and editors on their websites in advance, especially those that will accept pitches. They often include the kinds of things the experts are actively looking for. So research the editors and agents attending and see if they cover your topic/genre. If you’re spending this much money, make sure it’s worth your while. www.querytracker.net
Dress appropriately. No one is asking you to wear an uncomfortable suit or dress or three-inch heels for an entire day of workshops, presentations and pitch sessions. But be professional. Don’t show up in ratty jeans, tank top and flip flops.
Don’t stalk agents/editors in the bathroom or just before they present. They are clearly focused on other things and they won’t give you their full attention. And it’ll annoy the hell out of them, and that’s not the kind of impression you want to leave.
Networking is a must, but monopolizing conversations with constant reminders of what you’re story is about is a turnoff. Give others a chance to talk, and LISTEN.
What to Bring
Business cards with your email address and contact info www.vistaprint.com
Notepad or Notebook and a good pen
Synopsis/Query Letter http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html
A prepped 1-line ‘elevator pitch’ of your story. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/05/how-to-write-one-sentence-pitch.html
A small messenger bag to carry the ‘goodies’ you’ll get
Cash- for buying books, the cash bar, raffles, tips for housekeeping
Light Jacket/Sweater- you never know how powerful the air conditioner will be
Extra Luggage Bag- to cart home the extra books and stuff you’ll get (if you’re flying, and if you don’t leave extra space in your original bag)
Snacks- if you’re staying at the hotel overnight, do you really want to pay hotel prices for a bag of chips or granola bars?
What to Leave
Laptop (leave it in the hotel room)
A copy of your full manuscript. If agents ask for it, they all prefer email. (Why would you want to cart around that extra weight, anyway?)
Shy or Wallflower Tendencies- this will kill your experience at conferences, and the whole point is to network and meet people who will help advance your career and/or skills.
Book one in the Fantasy Romance series, The King's Riders!
For generations, the Ryhans, ruling family of the Province of Greenwald, have been keepers of a sword rumored to possess enough magic to defeat kings. Lord Varthan, a former archduke and betrayer of the king, covets the sword and invades Greenwald.
Lady Ceralda Ryhan, daughter of the murdered duke, gains the sword and flees, trusting only her white wolf, Trikser-magically bonded to her. Cera needs nothing more to aid in her fight.
Jorrin Aldern, half elfin and half human, left his home in the mountains of Aramour to find his human father who disappeared twenty turns before, but finds Cera with Varthan and his shades on her tail instead.
His dual heritage and empathic magic will tempt Cera in ways she never thought she'd desire. But can he convince her trust and love can pave the path to redemption-or will the epic battle end in tragedy, and evil conquer them all?
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Leargan Tegran, Captain of Greenwald’s personal guard, is an honorable knight. When his king commands him to wed Senior King’s Rider Ansley Fraser, he intends to follow orders; even as he knows nothing of the girl. Not to mention her blasted wolf bondmate, Ali, who barely lets him near her.
Ansley has been in love with Leargan for turns, but marrying him out of duty doesn’t sit well with her. She’ll fight the match tooth and nail—no matter how much she craves to be in his arms and in his bed.
The sudden appearance of Avril, a mysterious girl on the run, creates suspicions of powerful magic and evil lurking on the horizon. Dangers lead to a fight Leargan’s not prepared for.
With the Province threatened, will duty interfere with Leargan’s orders or entwine him and Ansley regardless of their desires?
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Sword's Call is FREE, Love's Call is 50% off until 8th March 2014 at Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy Romance
Rating – R
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