I just returned Sunday from Florida Christian Writers Conference—an exciting and helpful five days. I love attending writers’ conferences. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things to do at a conference. I was asked an interest question by a new acquaintance and I’d like to answer it here.
Her question was: if you’re already published, have an agent and won awards, why do you need to attend a conference anymore? That was one of those pause and let me think questions. For an unpublished author the whole focus of attending a conference can be these three things. We all want to get published. An agent is always on our radar and awards send us singing and dancing as our worth is recognized.
And I too wanted all of those. After achieving them I have come to realize there is so much more. I will never stop learning as an author. Trends change in what is selling and marketing shifts are ever turning to new routes. My favorite part of conferences is meeting people. Not just agents and publishers but other writers—newbies or pros. I always learn from them. And you never know what connections they might have on a professional level.
I love the classes. Some writers may say after faithfully attending year after year there are no new classes. Maybe, but there are new teachers. Each one has their own teaching style. Although the basics of story structure is the same, how it is shared can make all the difference to the listener.
Ask any writer what craft books they love. You’ll get a variety of answers. Because each author shares craft in a different way. Each reader is looking for specific help.
A conference event offers the opportunity to gain those ahh-haa moments when the one thing you struggle with, like deep point-of-view or show not tell, suddenly becomes clear. There’s also that moment you meet a new forever friend who may become an online critique partner or introduce you to the right publisher for your book.
If you ask any established author how many conferences they attend, it is often two a year. It may be a small local one and a full-length conference. For others, it’s a general conference and a genre conference such as Realm Makers, for example is specifically for Spec Fic writers, or RWA for romance writer and ACFW for fiction writers only.
I’m committed to attending at least one conference a year. When travel becomes prohibitive there are live week-long writers’ conferences online. So yes, even though I have an agent, am published and have won awards, I will continue to attend writer’s events.