John D. Rockefeller said that “with ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”
No adage could be more true for those wanting to pursue a career as a published author. However, there is at least one way that you can help yourself to have greater than ordinary talent, and to possibly reduce the amount of perseverance necessary to survive in an increasingly tight and competitive publishing environment: writing conferences.
There are a number of ways you can benefit from attending writing conferences.
First, you can improve on your talent by attending workshops that teach you more about the general craft of writing, as well as genre-specific concepts that you should understand.
Second, writing conferences can provide you with new business insights into a publishing industry that is evolving on a daily basis, as technology provides new avenues for getting your work into the hands of readers.
Last, but never least, there are the benefits of networking with other writers and industry professionals. Building both professional and personal relationships with these people will help you discover new opportunities for your work, and possibly help you create a support network to make writing not such a solitary endeavor.
You may be wondering, what kinds of conferences would be worthwhile to attend?
The first thing to ask is, What kind of novel am I writing? If your work is fiction, it is worthwhile to find conferences that are specific to your genre, but don’t rule out conferences which support multiple genres of fiction. Often, learning about other genres will help stimulate new ideas in your writing and help break past roadblocks created by too many genre-specific rules.
Genre-specific conferences that you may wish to consider are Malice Domestic (traditional mystery), Deadly Ink (suspense), ThrillerFest (thrillers), or the Romance Writers of America National Conference.
My local writing group—the New Jersey based Liberty States Fiction Writers—holds an annual conference, which boasts a number of both craft and business related workshops. This includes a number of programs discussing digital publishing, as well as opportunities to pitch your work to various editors and agents. Currently, there are sixteen editors and agents scheduled to attend the Create Something Magical conference.
Conference Chair Rayna Vause had this to say about the conference: “There are more and more opportunities for aspiring authors, but also much greater pressure to perform once a book is sold. Our goal for the conference is to help both aspiring and published authors realize the potential of both traditional and new avenues for their work, so that they can sustain a career in the publishing industry.”
Rayna could not be more right about the changing environment in publishing today, the importance of improving your craft, and gaining knowledge of the industry.
What are the typical fees for attending such conferences? Prices vary, and you can visit the websites of the various conferences for additional information. The larger multiday conferences may cost you a few hundred dollars for attendance (not including travel and lodging expenses).
Like any business endeavor, becoming a published author requires an investment of time and money, but the bottom line is that if you want to sell your book or keep on selling, writing conferences are a good way to learn and network. They are definitely worth the investment.Disclaimer: The Liberty States Fiction Writers are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.