I am always floored when I hear writers ask whether a conference is worth their time or money. I suppose sometimes it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that not everyone is as serious about learning and improving as I am. Or maybe they just don’t know how much there is to learn at a conference.
Even if you disregard the fact that your fellow writers have gathered together to learn and network with each other, which in and of itself is valuable enough to warrant spending the time and money, you cannot disregard the fact that experts are brought in to impart their wisdom with us.
People within the industry who actually know what they are doing, and gladly share the information. Priceless information.
I have researched the craft of writing and the process of publishing for years now. I have read more blog posts and websites, fan page notes and tweets to fill my brain to near exploding, and I always come away from the conferences feeling as though I have learned a great many treasures. Small bits of insight from people who are out there doing it every day.
Maybe some are things I had already heard or read somewhere and maybe not. The point is, when Writer’s Digest editor/author Chuck Sambuchino, tells you how to write a successful query letter, you take notes and when it is time to write said letter, you refer to those notes.
When Michael Palmer shares his insight on formulating suspense in your novel, you sit up and listen. If anyone knows how to create suspense it would be Michael Palmer.
When literary agent Marisa Corvisiero tells you how to craft a pitch to an agent in 25 words or less, you pay attention. Who knows better how to catch an agent’s attention than an agent?
Yes, there are different authors, editors and agents at each of these events, and these are a few of the experts at the Hampton Roads Writers’ Conference I just attended, and yes, you will learn something very different and very important from each one.
There are also pitch sessions, which allow you to pitch your novel (or book project) to an agent. I highly recommend taking this opportunity, even if you aren’t sure what to say. The agent will personally give you pointers that will help you.
Of course, there are many quotes from many famous people that are relevant here. This is one of my favorites:
If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Is there a conference in your area? Take my advice – attend! I promise you won’t regret it.