I spent years writing and learning only from 'how to' books. I thought five hundred or so for a conference was fluff money.
I'd go and be around other wannabe writers and talk some shop. Waste of money.
After getting tired of being rejected, I decided I needed to find out if maybe I could learn something in person from the pros that I wasn't able to pick up in my self-study.
I learned that, in a way, there is a gate keeper in the publishing business, and writer's conferences are it.
Now, that's certainly not to say it's impossible to be published if you've never attended one. But, making real life contact with people in the business makes all the difference.
Two writers of same talent send a proposal to an editor. One, he's never met, just like the hundred of others sitting on his desk.
The other says, we met last year at blankedy writer's conference and you invited me to send my proposal. Guess which one gets read more carefully and gets the personal reply?
What can a writer's conference do for you?
*Help you meet life-long writers friends. (Let's face it, only another writer will really want to hear about your hundredth rejection letter that had a personal comment from the editor).
* Introduce you to a critique group. (One of the single most important things you can do to improve your writing and get closer to publication) .
* Introduce you to published authors who are often willing to answer questions even long after the conference.
* Introduce you to authors who may be willing to give you an endorsement which in turn may make you more marketable.
* Teach you things about the craft that would take you years on your own to learn.
* It's so much fun! Picture it: You're dressed nice but casual, with hundreds of people just as obsessed as you with literature. Someone else cooks your meals, cleans your room, and you just have to learn more about what you love.
* You get to pitch your stories in person to editors and agents. Last year I witnessed some bonafide deals being made.
* Get your name out there. I haven't sold a novel yet, but the CB A movers and shakers are getting to know my name. And that means that if my future proposal is sitting on an editors desk along with ten others whose names he hasn't heard before, I'll bet, mine will be picked up first.
What To Bring To A Writer's Conference:
1. Bible (espescially if it's a Christian one)
2. Two copies of your proposals (best paper, error and wrinkle free)
3. A binder
4. A notebook
5. A tote bag (Lots of free books and pamphlets)
6. pens and highlighter
7. money to buy books of authors present for autographs (and good will)
8. business cards
9. Business casual clothes and all your other toiletries, etc. of course
10. Thank you cards. Someone will help you and you may not get their address (espescially if a famous author).
I leave on Sunday and come back Thursday. I'll blog when I come back and give you the high points. Who knows? I may come back signed with an agent or with a two book deal. I'm not counting on that but that's the cool thing about conferences, you never know what will happen.