It’s that season again! A wide majority of writers conferences are scheduled for late spring or through the summer, so if you have been thinking about attending one, it’s time to start making decisions. But there are so many choices! How do you pick a writers conference?
First, think of your goals.
Why do you want to go to a writers conference in the first place? Are you trying to learn more about the writing craft, marketing and publishing, or all of it? If learning is the main thing, look at the talks that are offered. Look for the conference that focusses on what you need at this point in your career. If you’re just trying to get your feet wet and figure out what you need to learn in the first place, look for a short and well-rounded conference dealing with a wide variety of topics.
Sometimes, it’s worth attending an event for one class alone. However, if that’s the case, don’t just look at conferences. Look up individual webinars, masterclasses, and consultations. If there’s only one very specific topic you want help with, you may get more bang for your buck somewhere else.
Pick a writers conference: look at extra features.
Maybe your goals aren’t purely educational. For you, that could be only a side benefit of the conference. Maybe you’re looking at networking or critique opportunities.
Some writers conferences offer additional options, often at an additional cost. These may include paid time slots for pitching to literary agents or paid one-on-one consultations on topics like improving your query. Some host happy hours in which you may be able to rub some advantageous elbows. I once attended a conference that did a first-page slam: a panel of literary agents read first pages pre-submitted by attendees to the crowd and explained why or why not would they have kept reading.
Pick a writers conference: consider the speakers.
You want advice directly from the people whose approval you seek. Want to be traditionally published? Try to find a conference taught largely by publishing professionals. Examples include literary agents and editors who’ve worked in major publishing houses, or authors successful in your genre. On the contrary, if you plan to go the indie route, look for classes taught by authors and editors and marketing professionals who’ve shown success in that arena.
There are so many great options out there! If you need a starting place, I can recommend some conferences I’ve attended. For the traditional route, I had a great experience with Writing Day Workshops. For the indie route, I highly recommend Inkers Con.
Pick a writers conference: the cost and location
Budget is always a concern, although an author can write off learning costs as a business expense. Many conferences offer early bird pricing, or a cheaper online-only ticket, but some writers conferences are just plain more expensive than others. What that conference offers in relation to your personal goals is what determines if the cost is worth it, but don’t forget about other costs. If your favorite conference is far away, you still have to factor in travel, food, and lodging.
That being said, it never hurts to look for hidden discounts. Email the organizer to ask about scholarship or volunteer opportunities. I’ve literally had $50 knocked off the price of a ticket just for asking, because most people don’t think to! And volunteer opportunities can be even better than getting a scholarship; you may be asked to pick a literary agent up from the airport and get to chat them up the whole drive! Just ask—the worst they can say is no opportunities are available.
About the Writer: Kathryn Tamburri (@KathrynTamburriAuthor) writes clean YA epic fantasy novels which seethe with slow-burn romance. You can find more of her writing tips on The Devo Blog at KathrynTamburri.com, and learn from her publishing journey by subscribing to her fun author newsletter!