Friday, January 29, 2016

How To Decide On A Conference

I think all industries and businesses have conferences. I have been to a lot in my days but I honestly have to say that writing conferences are the best. This is place and time when people who are truly passionate about their craft get a chance to talk and work to improve their work! But, with all of the conferences available, it can sometimes be difficult to decide which one to attend. I would also say that far too many authors use only price as their criteria for attending or not, and this, in my humble opinion, is not the way to go. 

Yes, attending conferences will cost money, so I am not going to 100% ignore the financial factory. But this is really an issue of a cost-benefit analysis. Today, I want to look at the things you need to consider before plunking down that money.

Who is speaking or attending - This is a big one. If there is a presenter who is leading a pretty extensive workshop that you would normally pay a lot of money to go and see, then I would say to go. Sure, you might be able to work with this person at another conference, but the other workshops and networking that you would get with this one would give this conference an added bonus.

Are their agents and editors there? - This is one only for those authors who are really ready to make that jump to professional writing. Being able to meet with these professionals face-to-face can sometimes make a world of difference. BUT, I am adding a condition to this. If the agents or editors you want to submit to are not there, but other random ones, you cannot factor this into your decision making. Pitching to people who would most likely turn down your work is not worth the effort. 

Networking If you are already published, this is now the time to start thinking about promotion and moving to another level. Will this conference be a chance to meet with people who can better your career. Is there a book signing? Again, here are some conditions to this one and let me start with the book signing one. If there are not outside people coming to the conference for the book signing, then it is NOT worth it. I attended a conference where all of the authors who were there were at the book signing. The funny part is they all sat at their tables waiting for people to come. Those potential buyers were also selling books. There were simply no outsiders to buy the books. 

The networking also involves simply talking to people. Is your editor or agent attending (I should also add that if your writing chapter is having a conference, you should invite your editor or agent). Are their new booksellers attending that might be new doors for you to get your books into their stores. This is especially important for those of you who are doing this on your own. 

Size matters There are really a lot of pros and cons here. I love small conferences because I have the chance to meet with a lot of authors and talk one-on-one. But with the smaller conferences, there can also be a limited amount of workshops and networking opportunities. With the larger conferences, these can be lacking in that personal connection but there are more business opportunities.

Workshops and classes This sort of connects with the first one. Look at the workshops on their schedule. Is there anything there that fits with what you are looking for? I know I attended one conference (I was invited) but new after they finally got the schedule out, that there would end up being little I could offer the writers. This conference had the theme of self-publishing that year. No, it was not a written theme, but it was very clear the coordinators were thinking that way. 

Look, conferences are great and, as a writer, you have to attend these. It is here where you will make your connections. It is here where people will know your name. But, make a wise decision before attending!

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