Friday, August 24, 2012

What Goes On at a Writer's Conference?

Me and Susie May Warren 
By Jill Williamson

Last week I got to go to my absolute favorite writer's conference. Now, I love all writer's conferences. I just can't help it. But this one... it's special. Here's why:

1. It's mine. I go every year. I've made friends with the other people who go every year. We support each other and grow in our writing careers together. And when one of us succeeds, it's like having a huge family throw a party for you. Pretty sweet.

2. I sold all my books there. I sold the Blood of Kings trilogy to Jeff Gerke there. I sold Replication to Zondervan there. I met my agent there. Good things have happened at this conference. And not just to me!

The girls I stayed up to 1:30 with
3. It's small and intimate compared to some of the HUGE conferences out there. It gets about 300 people. That means that I meet people and I keep seeing them throughout the week. I actually make friends with these people. I even make friends with the staff! And it's more of a relaxed conference, so I can stay up late and talk, talk, talk with people. My teen writer friend promised that when I get too old to stay up to 1:30 am every night of the conference, she'd gather everyone to come to my room so I wouldn't have to take my walker out when it's dark. Isn't that nice of her? Party in Jill's room someday when I'm old! Whoo!

Okay, so Jill has fun and makes friends. Big deal. What else goes on?

-There is a keynote speaker who will speak every night. This is usually a veteran author, editor, or agent who is an inspiration to everyone.
-There are dozens of workshops to choose from taught by a variety of editors, agents, authors, and sometimes marketing people too.
-There are often morning sessions that you go to each day that go deeper on a particular topic.
One morning, I had much bacon
-There are mentor authors there to read your manuscript and give you feedback or answer whatever questions you might have.
-There are agents and editors there to pitch your story to.
-There is a freebie table with samples of magazines and other periodicals in case you want to write for them.
-There are many free books given away.
-If you loved a class or missed one, you can order CDs and listen to it later
-There is a bookstore with tons of great stuff, and they usually have an autograph night in case you want to get something signed.
-There is worship and prayer (at the Christian conferences)
-There are award ceremonies
-There is good food and lots of it!

My knight in shining armor
Sadly this year, on the way home (it's a 5.5 hour drive for me), I broke down! Some of you know I spend three hours in Idanha, Oregon where Bigfoot lives. Well, I admit that I was a little freaked out when I first broke down and had no cell service. But I knew it would work out okay. And guess what? It did! A guy named Ken shows up in his mobile auto garage that looked like a renovated ambulance (can you say story idea?). He puts in a new alternator on the side of the road! Turns out he's a reader, so he also goes home with my fantasy trilogy. Pretty sweet twist on what some might have considered a disaster.

So... I urge you all to find a writer's conference near you, save up, and give it a try. Maybe sign up for one day, if it's a week-long conference. But there is nothing like getting several hundred writers together. How about you? Ever go to a conference?

22 comments:

  1. Does WriteOnCon count? :P Sadly, the online variety is the closest that i'll be getting to a conference for a while (parents would worry about transport, safety, ect.) but I did love it! Maybe someday I could go for a day, that'd be fun! Here is my favorite part of WriteOnCon!

    http://writeoncon.com/2012/08/all-your-publishing-questions-answered-by-editors-molly-oneill-and-martha-mihalick-and-literary-agent-holly-root/

    That said, I would love to go to a physical conference... Someday. :)

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    1. Fun, Allison! What a neat online conference!

      Online conferences are awesome, and you can learn so much! But the're a little different than the physical ones. But I totally get the parental thing. I'm a mom too! And I wouldn't let my kid go traipsing off to some random place with tons of adults by himself.

      But, someday! Until then, it's awesome that you've found such a great online confernece.

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  2. Only NextGenWriters and WriteOnCon. I'd love to be able to go to the conference they have at UNF next year, though. Sounds like you had a ton of fun, Mrs. Jill! I'll bet that the smaller, more intimate ones are more comfortable and fun! Sorry about the car troubles, though. Who knows? Maybe the home of bigfoot will end up in a story someday.

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    1. yup. sounds like you found yourself a story idea :) Hope you get to go there, Ms. Nickname-Giver!! ;)

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  3. Never been to a conference...but YAY! You got friends at yours!! :)
    It sounds like so much fun. Maybe I will go to one someday :)

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  4. I've never been to a conference. I was hoping this year but some outside things have gotten in the way & changed that, I'm still licking my wounds :(
    I'm hoping next year? I keep trying to watch for listings of them but there doesn't seem to be a comprehensive one for 2013 yet.

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    1. Awww... I'm sorry, Tonya! Bummer. Yeah, keep your eyes peeled. The right one will come along at just the right time.

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  5. I started going to conferences this year, and have so far attended two, both within driving distance of my home. It's amazing how many opportunities you can find right under your nose when you start looking! I've never been to a Christian one, though. I don't right specifically for the Christian market, but it would be interesting to get some insight on putting your faith into your work.

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    1. Cool, Homeschoolee! General market conferences are just as wondferful as the Christian ones. And there are different types of conferences too, like Fantasy/Science Fiction or Romance or Mystery/Thriller ones. I'd love to try them all someday. But if you can find one that you love, it's a good thing.

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  6. That sounds awesome! Except for the breaking-down part, though. It turned out pretty well, anyway. Which writers' conference is it? The only one I've been to is NextGen, though I'm also hoping for WriteOnCon next year. Also, do you have to be at a certain skill level? Like, could you just register, or do you have to have writing experience (like, say, an almost-completed manuscript or having had short stories published, etc.)?

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    1. This one was the Oregon Christian Writer's Confernece. Nope, you don't have to be at a certain skill level for most conferences, but if you're going to spend a lot, it might be wise to wait until you think your manuscript is ready to be published. But my friend Kayla in the picture has come for two years and her manuscript isn't ready. She just comes for fun and inspiration.

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  7. I'm going to a Writer's Intensive in just a few weeks! I'm so excited!!!

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    1. Oooh! Have fun, Mandi Lynn! We want to hear all about it when you get back!

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  8. That sounds really fun!
    I'd love to go to a writers' conference someday, but I don't know how many there are in little old New Zealand, where I live.
    Maybe when I'm older (not sure if I'd even be allowed to go yet) I'll go to one. Fingers crossed! :)

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  9. UGH!!! I really wish that I could go to a writer's conference, but since I live in Africa, it's pretty much impossible.... How much does it usually cost (like average cost) to go to a writer's conference?

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  10. Jill, what a great story!! :) I loved attending the one writer's conference I've been to and I hope to go to another one next year or the following year. :) Maybe ACFW.

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  11. Man, I wanna go to a con!!!

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  12. From Amo Libros: I went to one this summer! Antioch Writers Workshop in Ohio. I was able to go because they have a Teen Writers program with a scholarship and a special afternoon class for teens - and lunches with the session leaders, so we could ask questions and stuff. It was a blast! There were only 11 of us, but all the adults were really encouraging and friendly. They all seemed so proud of us for coming and they kept talking about how they'd wished they'd gotten started when they were our age. I learned SO MUCH from all the classes, and I met a bunch of people who were really helpful, not to mention 10 other teens who like to write (I also told them all about Go Teen Writers...) : ) If you can get into a conference, GO! They can be pretty expensive though, which is why I was so glad about the scholarship.

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    1. Aww, thanks for spreading the word! And I'm really glad to hear you had such a good time.

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  13. I love writing conferences!! I went to the CBA conference this summer - which is really more for booksellers - but authors were there trying to sell their books and there were workshops for new writers. While I was there, I was able to speak with several publishing houses and editors. It was a fabulous experience!

    -Ciera

    www.cierahorton.blogspot.com

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