Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seven Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference

Mills College campus in Oakland, CA is where I will be this weekend at the SCBWI Nor Cal Writer's Conference. What a beautiful place. Below are seven strong reasons why I think you should go to at least one writers' conference every year. Anyone who has a desire to be a better writer will gain benefits for the taking.

1. Meet other writers. Well, of course, but where else can you meet hundreds of people who are at varying stages in their writing career? You will even meet others who have been there done that and who are ready to help you. Writers tend to be shy but a conference is one place to put your shyness on hold. Take a deep breath and make an effort to say hello and by all means take business cards with your name and phone number on it.
2. Find practical information you can put to immediate use. You might learn how to format a manuscript or how to send a query to an editor or how to do your taxes. You will definitely get some basic knowledge you can use to further your writing career.
3. Become energized. Becoming a successful writer is a goal for most writers. When you are mixing with hundreds of other writers who are dedicated to their work just as you are, you will find the desire to write more than you ever have before.
4. Find new markets for your work. Many writing conferences attract all kinds of writers unless you are attending one that is specific to children’s writing like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) At a children’s writers conference you will meet writers of all genres for children’s books. Some of them will write for genres you haven't considered yet. They might know of a magazine which uses the kinds of things you write. They may know of a publisher who is looking for a book like yours.
5. Improve your professional effectiveness. Writers' conferences are an excellent way to continue your education and improve your knowledge about your craft. If you are serious about your writing, attending a conference will prove that you are committed to your profession.
6. Become inspired. If you go with an open mind and open ears, there will be speakers who seem to be talking directly to you. It is rare to find a writer who has never received a rejection slip or faced difficulties and hardships. You may receive encouragement or that little push that sets you out on the road to success. The one thing I know you will find is the courage to keep on writing.
7. Meet editors and agents. This is the ultimate payoff: editors and agents take time out of their busy lives to attend writers' conferences because they are looking for people like you who have a book or an idea that will make money for them. Writers really do find agents and editors this way. At many conferences, you can sign up for an appointment and find yourself face to face with a living, breathing editor or agent who wants to hear about your work. This is a thousand times better than sending out a manuscript that will almost certainly land at the bottom of a slush pile.

I hope you make a decision to attend a writer’s conference near you. If you are a member of SCBWI go to their website and click on calendar of events. This will direct you to a number of events this organization sponsors. Another writer’s conference worth checking out is the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference coming up in summer of 2009.

Write it down,