The Value of Conferences

I’m writing this blog as much to convince myself (and my husband) of the value of conference attendance as well as you, fellow writer.

catYes, I’m looking at you. **Scary how I do that, right?

Anyway, back to the topic. At the beginning of my writing career, I decided to attend RWA Nationals because it was in Nashville. That’s drivable from my home in Illinois. I got a grant to cover the registrations, found someone to share a room with, and set up to caravan with my chapter mates down to the big show.

After all that planning, God stepped in and said, “Let there be rain.” And the conference site was flooded. Now, I had to find the money for the airfare to Florida. Remember when Southwest had their sunroof scare? Prices plummeted after that, and I had my cheap fare.100_0633

The next year the conference was in New York. I had to go. This time, I stayed with a friend in her aunt’s apartment, slicing the out of pocket cost. I’d only published in short fiction by then, I needed the discount. Staying off site gave me a taste of what living in New York could feel like if I could afford an apartment on the Upper West Side.101_9119

I haven’t been to a conference since. Mostly because I’m busy writing. Since the last RWA, I’ve sold seven romances, two – twice. (Long story.) I’ve also sold three cozy mysteries. That’s a lot of words for a not-full-time writer. Taking time out of my writing schedule to go to a week of workshops, presentations, signings, and parties wasn’t going to happen.101_9130

This year, I’ve got two conferences scheduled. I just committed to RWA Nationals in San Antonio in July and I’m attending Magna Cum Murder in October. My writing schedule hasn’t slowed down, but this year, I hoping to have the PAN ribbon as well as I get to go to a publisher’s party. My goals at RWA are to meet with my editor and talk about contract extensions. And pitch a romance to my friends at HQ American. If I leave with a request for a full and a consideration of the extension, I’ll feel like my goals were reached.

Make a goal. Make it a stretch. Make the money you spend on the conference work for you. It’s not all about the parties. Well, okay, it’s a little about the parties—just don’t tell my husband.


Are you going to a conference this year?  What are your goals?




About lynncahoon

Small town girl, big town problems.
This entry was posted in A Little Note From Lynn and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Value of Conferences

  1. Jaye Garland says:

    So totally agree, Lynn. When I haven’t established goals prior to a conference, my experiences turned into a mass love fest without any real take-away bonuses–other than the great stuff given in workshops. Even then, those were unscheduled on my part. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge benefit to networking, but that works out better when you don’t go into the event completely blind. A little homework ahead of time just might keep you from embarrassing yourself. When I know ahead of time why this particular conference is essential and what I plan to accomplish, then my post conference experiences have always been greater.

    Can’t wait to see you in San Antonio! ❤

    • lynncahoon says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing all my Soulies, and lala’s.

      I make out a plan, highlight workshops, and list out alternatives. Yes, I am a little anal – at least with conferences.

  2. C.D. Hersh says:

    Conferences are time to come up for air and let the eyes rest from the computer screen. Having goals for the conference are always good also but don’t let that keep you from just having fun or put that in as a daily goal. LOL

    • lynncahoon says:

      CD – for me, its a matter of stretching out of my shell and meeting new people. I have great friends I met at conference because I spoke up first. 🙂 I like having fun as a goal.

  3. One of our Soul Mateys – – has updated and re-released the fun and insightful “Some Writers Deserve To Starve – 31 brutal truths about the publishing industry” that every writer should review before they enter the conference arena. Too many newbies think they are stepping into a fairy castle and instead stumble into the center field of a sport competition, like football.

  4. Pingback: RWA Conference 2014 | Flash of Romance

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