Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Identifying The Focus Of A Conference

I was looking through a couple of upcoming conferences to see what was going on. These are conferences I am not personally attending, but it is always nice to see trends. In this case, what I saw was VERY telling. In fact, this is something you should be doing before every conference so that you can be either better prepared, or make the decision if this is the conference for you or not.

So, when I looked at the conference page, I started with the editors or agents. This is a conference close enough for me to get to in a full day's drive so if there was someone I wanted to meet with, I could make it there. This list was very unique.

The editors list had a small list of editors but half were from smaller independent and digital publishers. Those from the larger houses were VERY selective in terms of what they were looking for. A lot of non-fiction, memoirs and so forth. Anything commercial was simply not there.

As for the agents, the list was double that of the editors, but even these agents were looking for things that would only go to self-publishing houses or smaller independent presses. Sure, there were some mentions of commercial fiction, but the works they were focused on were those smaller genres.

When it came to the sessions, the focus was on VERY niche genres and over half were focused on only selling your books on your own and doing it digitally.

But what does this tell me? First of all, the conference is clearly showing their perspective that they wanted to overly emphasize this smaller market. For those wanting to take the traditional approach, they will simply be out of luck. Secondly, it is clear that this conference believes that commercial fiction is not the place to be. Finally, the only people who will be successful with pitch sessions here are those who either have the next 6 figure NY Times Best Seller, or people only interested in those smaller presses. There is not middle ground here.

I bring this up because this is what every author should do BEFORE dropping a lot of money in conference registrations, hotels, and transportation. Review the schedule. See who is going to be there. Be very clear before showing up. I the case of this conference, if someone were to show up wanting to write something more commercial and/or more traditional, the odds are, this conference would be a complete waste.

Even if you were interested in taking just sessions and skipping the pitches, the odds are you might be disappointed, unless you were into one of these niche approaches.

I should also note that authors cannot draw any conclusions from a brief study such as this that the conference line up "reflects what the trends are in publishing today." This may simply be that the organizers had their own agenda in mind. Sure, it may be trends, but that may not be the only reason.

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