There are a lot of ways new authors can educate themselves about publishing and engage with the larger literary community. One is to join local writing groups. Another is to read blogs or become a Goodreads contributor.
But of all the means of jump-starting a writing career, perhaps none is more effective than attending a leading writers’ conference. In fact, even if you’re just aiming to become a better writer, you should attend a writers’ conference. Here’s why.
You’ll learn from professionals
A primary perk of attending writers’ conferences is the opportunity to learn about the craft and the industry from professionals.
You can do this by signing up for sessions, enlisting in workshops, or engaging in talks. The people who conduct the workshops and lead the sessions are often experts in the fields of writing or publishing. It’s hard to imagine a place where so many educational and inspirational resources are readily accessible.
Writers’ workshops also offer the chance to have your manuscripts critiqued — usually by industry insiders who are willing to offer personalized suggestions for improving your writing.
You’ll meet other writers
Where else can you meet hundreds of dedicated, interesting writers and publishers all at varying stages in their careers? It’s another major benefit of attending writers’ conferences. Chances are, you’ll meet someone with whom you really connect, and who knows what could come of that? You might start trading drafts or your new contact might even be able to connect you with an agent.
Writing is a solitary activity — publishing is not. That means you need to network and meet other writers and publishers who share the intensity and enthusiasm for writing as you do.
At the very least, you’ll make connections that will motivate you, but it’s also possible you’ll make valuable connections who can later review or otherwise endorse your books. You’ll also garner important nuggets of wisdom. Wherever you are on the road to success, you will meet others who have been there before and who are ready to help you.
You’ll meet editors and agents
Another thing you can count on at writers’ conferences is learning very useful information about the publishing landscape. In addition to writers, you’ll meet editors and agents who are looking for people who have a book or book idea that might make money for them — like you!
You might even have the chance to sit down with them face-to-face. This process is not only more likely to land you an agent than submitting your work to a slush pile, it’s also the best way to learn about what agents and editors are looking for, how the industry works, and which next step is best for you to take in pursuing your literary dreams.
You’ll get feedback
When attending a writers’ conference, one thing you’ll be sure to do is share your idea for your book with other writers and folks in the publishing industry. In doing this, you’ll learn a lot about the legitimacy and potential of your particular idea as well as how to improve your pitch when it really counts. The responses you receive in the moment will prove to be some of the best feedback you ever get.
And that feedback is powerful. Every time you share your book’s concept, the direction you need to take your book in — along with what changes you might need to make — will become clearer.
You might find a new market for your work
Conferences attract all kinds of writers. Some of them will likely write for markets you haven’t considered. They might even know of a publication that uses the kinds of things you write or a publisher who is looking for a book like yours.
Meeting these folks really does open doors, and a writers’ conference is one of the only places you can make so many connections.
You’ll leave inspired
Sure, you might meet another writer or publishing insider who can change your life — that really is a possibility — but there are other lessons, insights, and bits of wisdom available at these conferences that make them worth the trip.
Sessions, meet-ups, and happy hour gatherings can present unforeseen opportunities, along with lots of practical information you can put to immediate use. You might attend a seminar on how to prepare the paperwork for your nonfiction book proposal, how to format a manuscript, or how to send a query to an editor.
Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, these conferences offer the sort of nuts-and-bolts knowledge that can improve your writing and increase your efficiency in the business side of the craft.
At the very least, you’ll leave inspired. It’s invigorating to be surrounded by other writers — all that energy, hope, and determination is like a kind of electricity buzzing in the air. It’s infectious. I guarantee you’ll leave the first writers’ conference you attend hungrier than ever to actualize your writing dreams.
You can write it off as a business expense
Yes, you’ll get a tax break for attending a writers’ conference even if you haven’t started making money yet.
Look, at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. Ask just about every author who has attended a writers’ conference, and they’ll tell you the same thing: these conferences can catapult your writing career. They offer answers and clarity, wisdom and inspiration. They might even help you make a connection that changes your life.
Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!