SCWW Conference Faculty Guest Post: Barbara V. Evers

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Haven’t Written Your Book?  7 Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference

by Barbara Evers

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“My book’s not finished.  I’ll wait until next year.”

“I’d like to go, but I don’t know what I want to write.”

“I’m just getting started.  There’s no reason for me to attend a writers’ conference, yet.”

These are common statements I hear from writers when I suggest they attend a writing conference or critique group.  For some reason, writers and wanna-be writers think they must have a completed work before attending a conference.  Afterall, the purpose of attending a conference is to sign with an agent or publisher, right?

Wrong.  Well…half-wrong.

Yes, you can attend a conference with a completed work and meet the perfect agent or publisher and get your work published, but that’s not the only reason to attend.  They are many other reasons for you to go.

  1. Networking:  There’s nothing better than the opportunity to talk to other writers about their craft and learn what they’re doing or not doing.  You will pick up great tips and learn about resources from your writing peers.
  2. Fine-tuning:  Writing conferences provide several workshops and panels on writing your novel, non-fiction book, query, or synopsis.  If you don’t know how to do this, you might ruin a perfect opportunity by doing it wrong.  I’ve sat in workshops where the instructor talked about how to use dialog effectively, how to create a story arc, how to eliminate filler words from your material, or how to write a non-fiction book proposal.  If you’ve never participated with a group of writers, you are missing knowledge that will guide you as you write.
  3. Creating:  Most people return home after a conference or critique group and WRITE.  Sitting in a room surrounded by other excited people stirs your creative juices.  I challenge you to attend a conference and NOT go home and write.  It’s not possible.
  4. Connecting with agents and editors:  Of course, a writing conference provides the unique opportunity for you to meet people in the publishing industry.  Even if you don’t have something to pitch to them, yet, you meet and get to know them better.  It’s imperative to learn something about them before you query or submit your work.  A conference gives you access in a way the internet cannot do.
  5. Marketing:  What is the market doing?  What will the book market look like in two years, five years, ten?  None of us own a crystal ball (ok, if you do, we need to chat), but a conference pulls together the individuals who have their finger on the pulse of the industry.  Do you have that perfect YA book just like Divergent?  Is anyone still looking for stories like that or is the market saturated?  Should you self-publish?  What are the pros and cons of doing so?  And more.
  6. Collaborating:  Conferences provide the best avenue to finding your perfect critique partner.  Many writers have a small group of people they rely on to give them honest feedback on their writing.  At a conference, you might find a person who is willing to do this with you.  They critique you, you critique them.  A match made to push you along.
  7. Encouraging:  At my first writing conference, I met two people who motivated me to keep writing.  One was the agent who did my critique.  She enjoyed reading my pages and encouraged me to finish the novel.  The second person was an author on the faculty that I helped out during her workshop.  She appreciated my assistance and allowed me to contact her after the conference.  She didn’t read or critique my novel, but she agreed to keep me accountable to getting it written.  Plus, she answered many questions as I worked including how in the world do you write a major battle scene.

I’ve given you 7 reasons to attend a writing conference whether or not you’ve finished your work or not.  What are you waiting for?  Go sign up for the SCWW conference, now!

2 Responses

  1. Vonda Skelton
    July 31, 2014 at 7:51 am

    I agree with all your points, Barbara! Going to a big writers conference was the best thing I ever did for my writing!

  2. Barbara Evers
    August 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks for the validation, Vonda. It never ceases to amaze me when writers choose not to attend because they don’t have a finished manuscript.

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