Writers’ Conferences: Why You Should Go and How to Make the Most of Them

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Writers’ conferences are wonderful—some say vital—opportunities to connect with fellow authors, agents, and sometimes even editors and representatives from publishing houses around the world. If you plan on pursuing traditional publishing (or simply want to make some potentially useful connections for the future), then writers’ conferences are a must. Midnight Publishing is an editing, marketing and ghostwriting company with one goal, and one goal only: to assist you in transforming your manuscript from an unpolished idea to published (or publishable!). We assist with developmental editing, copyediting, proofreading, building an author platform, helping you to organize your memoir or how-to book and more; all things that would be incredibly beneficial for your manuscript-in-progress, especially if you’re headed to a conference to make some contacts in the publishing world. Why not come to the table with a nearly-finished product you can be proud of?

What is a writers’ conference?

As Chuck Sambuchino discusses in this Writer’s Digest article, there are several types of writers’ conferences:

  • General, for all levels of writers and including all (or most) genres;
  • Specialized conferences that typically focus on one genre; and
  • Retreats—getaways that encourage writers to take time away from the workshops to apply the concepts they’ve just been taught and write.

Conferences are usually over a weekend and include a packed schedule of seminars, meet-and-greets, social hours and more.

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How do writers’ conferences typically work?

Perhaps the most widely known activity at a “big” conference (one that is perhaps nationally or internationally known) is the “pitch”: during seminars, happy hours and social times, writers are pitching their books to agents in the hopes of possible representation. There are actual “pitch lists” you can sign up for as well, which allot around 10 minutes for you to meet one-on-one with an agent or editor and discuss why they should want to represent your book. For tips on how to pitch literary agents at conferences, read this post at The Write Life.

Besides pitching, lots of conferences have talks, seminars, and classes from big-name authors and members of the publishing world that encompass all areas of writing, marketing and building a career as an author.

What should I do to prepare for a writer’s conference?

Save up funds—conferences can range from $500 to $2,000 depending on where you’re going, for how long, travel/hotel, food and the conference itself. At the conference, be sure to map out your schedule so that you can attend as many workshops as possible. Don’t forget a notebook and pen to take notes with (or your laptop!), comfortable clothes that still have a professional vibe (you never know when you may have the opportunity to pitch your book to an agent or editor—even in the line for a Starbucks!), extra money for fun outings with other authors or connections you meet, and some comforts for when you make it back to your hotel room. Conferences are fantastic and exhilarating, but they can also be exhausting, especially when you’re nervous about a book pitch; it could be quite beneficial to have your favorite snack or blanket waiting in the room to cuddle up with. Read The Review Review’s post on “How to Survive a Writers’ Conference” here for more valuable info.

Stay tuned next week for a list of Midnight Publishing’s top writer’s conferences in the United States and around the world, and be sure to contact us about any of your writing, editing or marketing needs! As the best editing, marketing and ghostwriting company in Phoenix, Arizona, we can’t wait to share our expertise with you!