Thursday, February 3, 2011

Conference or Stay Home?

I'm debating going to two different writers' conferences in the next few months.  I have friends at both conferences and certainly the chance to meet more.  I've looked over the presentation offerings for both and found a few workshops I might attend.  I like agent and editor panels and the glimpse they give me into their personalities.  Most of them come off as witty and interesting speakers.  I could always sit in another workshop on promotion.

What really attracts me to a writing conference though are the agents and editors attending and the chance to pitch to a desired editor or an agent.  I'm debating the cost of attending, one of them I wold have to stay overnight, and whether it's worth it to pay the money for a ten minute face to face. 

I can't decide.  What do you look for in selecting a conference?  How do you way the cost/benefit ratio? How many of you found your agent or publisher at a conference?


  1. It would depend on the workshops and if they're relevant to where I'm at with my writing, and the agent panels as well. I've considered attending a conference, but haven't so far ...

  2. I've not attended one either, although I've heard the biggest benefit is the networking aspect.

  3. They can be lots of fun and helpful, Joanne. The networking can be a bonus, Alex.

  4. Most agents admit those pitches don't lead to many offers of representation. But hearing the agent speak can give you an idea if you'd like to work with her. And if you attend workshops, you'll have stuff to quote your query--and that's a plus. But not necessarily worth the big bux. You can read their blogs and quote them, too.

    It's the same thing with workshops. You can usually get the same information online for free.

    But I love conferences. They're fun, energizing and full of fascinating people. I've made wonderful friends at conferences, including several writers who became successful.

    In choosing a conference, I prefer smaller ones. If there are a lot of agents, they'll socialize together and not with you. But if there are only one or two, you'll have a chance to chat and get to know them as people.

  5. I'm not sure what you call a small conference, Anne, but I agree. The one I usually attend has around 200 attendees more or less. I also think you're right about the agents hanging together.
    I found some blogging friends at the last conference I attended and enjoyed meeting face to face some of the people I'd only met online before.

  6. Keep in mind that there are other ways to meet the agents and editors. For example, instead of going straight to bed, go to the bar and hang out (don't get drunk). Agents sometimes go there as well. Scope out the agents & editors before you go to the conference (usually the conference will have a page with info and pictures). Know the ones you really want to talk to. If there's a luncheon, find the one you want to meet and try to sit with them at the table. If you have time and the conference needs volunteers, you might consider volunteering to help with the agent 10-minute pitches. Often, if someone doesn't show up for their time slot, one of the volunteers can zip in and pitch.

  7. I would love to go to a conference! For me it would be primarily for inspiration, not a business investment.

    Prayers for direction are with you!! :)

  8. I go for bang-for-the-buck, which means National. I've attended few regional ones, because they always seem to offer too little that would benefit me personally to justify the cost.

    But I definitely feel meeting people in person is worth it. That 10-minute face-to-face can tell you so much (mostly intangible) that you could never determine otherwise.

    And don't feel like you have to follow structure. Several years ago, I had a revised project on submission with an agent and asked if we could meet during National. I ended up spending almost an hour talking to her in the agency's suite. She rejected the book she had at the time, but I followed the advice she'd given me during our conversation, and she signed me with the next book.

    So if you have your eye on someone and have a little groundwork laid, go ahead and ask! Worst they'll do is say no. :)

  9. You're so right, Helen. I had a great conversation with an agent while we sat in the lobby deciding about dinner plans. She nearly came home with me for a cookout.
    Thanks for the wishes, Cheryl.
    I've never been to RWA National, Natalie. I think I would be overwhelmed by the hugeness.

  10. Do it. In my opinion it's so worth it even if you don't get to pitch anything to an agent. The opportunity for networking and learning is enormous and worthwhile.

  11. I have yet to make it to a conference but did participate in a book festival in 2009. I guess they are similar. I need to make it to a conference this year and get a feel for them. Maybe even participate and gain some additional exposure.

  12. Another thing to consider is that many editors don't take submissions from writers without agents...unless said writer attended a conference where they spoke. It's a nice way to get your foot in the door at some of the "closed" houses.

    Let us know what you decide!