With many of our colleagues attending the National Romance Writers of America Conference in California this year, I thought I would explain the virtues of attending writers’ conferences. There are many reasons to attend but here are my favorites:
Networking is the best benefits of attending a conference with professionals in your field. Many editors and agents will be present to speak about the writing business and listen to pitches from attendees. These are usually one-on-one meetings with an agent or editor about your work but it’s your chance to convince them they definitely need to work with you. Many speakers who work at agencies or houses closed to open submissions, may announce a code word to write on your submission envelope. This means they’ll take manuscripts from anyone who was at the conference and uses the code word. It keeps your work out of the slush pile and maybe even closer to the top of this person’s to-do-list. Some agents and editors ask you to mention meeting them at the conference in your cover letter.
Sharing Stories about your road to publication
That’s right; you get to meet other writers just like you. Let’s face it—not everyone in your family understands you as a writer. When you tell them you didn’t get any sleep for the last three nights because your characters were keeping you awake, they look at you like you’re nuts. A fellow writer understands the importance overcoming a bout of writer’s block, getting a personalized rejection letter, or struggling with character development. It’s a chance to be fully immersed in a world of people like you.
Besides empathy from others, it also helps to hear about their successes and failures, so you know you’re not alone. It is important to share with other writers, who have the same struggles as you. They understand how difficult writing can be.
Tips to Improve your Writing
Most writing conferences have working writers, editors, and agents that have something to teach you. Conference sessions exist on a range of topics such as plotting, characterization, market trends, electronic publishing, and much more. You name it, and there’s probably a conference somewhere for you to improve that area of your craft.
Different speakers may put a different twist on topics like writing in different multiply genres, marketing your work, or submitting a manuscript. If you attend a conference, you may experience your own light bulb moment and improve your craft along the way.
A conference can be just the inspiration you need. When enthusiastic writers, agents, and editors surround you for a day, a weekend, or even a whole week, you will most likely leave inspired. It’s contagious!
It’s A Tax Write Off
You will be able to write off the trip and entry fees on your income tax as a business expense. The IRS will give you a tax break for attending this conference even if you haven’t started making big money yet. [Note: I am not a tax accountant but if you’re already a published author, such expenses are generally deductible. Check with an accountant to be sure.]
This October, I’ll be at the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. In May 2013, I’ll be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Romance Slam Jam Conference and in July I’ll attend RWA Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia because that’s where my mother’s family resides. I hope all of you will make an effort to attend a writers conference soon. And if you’re planning to go to Nationals next year, let’s plan to meet up and swap some stories.