Anatomy of a Conference Experience
Blogger: Mary Keeley
The busiest conference season is into full swing through the summer into fall. I’m at the Write To Publish Conference this week and will have limited time to respond to comments. But here are some of the things I’m looking forward to and some I see and hear attendees anticipate. And I hope you have fun sharing stories of your past conferences and hopes for your next one.
From an agent’s perspective. I’m looking forward to:
- Connecting with other industry professionals. At almost all conferences some time is set aside for faculty to have time together, either over breakfast or a pre-conference dinner. It gives us time for relationship building, sharing perspectives and news about the industry, and opportunities to talk one-on-one with editors about our clients’ projects.
- Meeting aspiring authors. I love to encourage writers who are passionate about their God-given drive to write captivating, life-changing books. I view the 15-minute meetings with these writers as opportunities to give forward into their writing journey. It’s a joy to watch attendees process what they learn in workshops, editor and agent panel discussions, and in their one-on-one meetings with editors and agents.
- Finding the one or two writers who are ready to be represented. Those whose writing sample is so sublime that I can’t wait to get the full proposal and manuscript. Those one or two aspiring writers or published authors who have he whole package. They have done the long, hard work to excel in their craft, while also successfully growing a sizeable audience and, especially for a nonfiction author, a strong platform. They have learned how to serve their audience to cement their loyalty.
From the attendee’s perspective. From comments I frequently hear, you look forward to:
- Face-to-face meetings with editors and agents. The anticipation is exciting. But that’s not say these writers don’t also quickly mention their apprehension, even fear, about it. I want to assure you, we agents and editors totally get that. Mos of the editors and agents you will face understand and try to put writers at ease. These in-person opportunities are important. I’ve heard a few editors comment at conferences that they won’t consider a writer’s submission unless they had met at a conference.
- Learning about the industry and the publishing process. This in itself is reason enough to attend a conference, even if you don’t have a polished manuscript. Just as Joshua and Caleb quietly went into Promised Land to scope it out before leading the Israelite army in to conquer the land, it is wise for you who are beginning your writing journey to attend a conference simply to observe the action and absorb as much information as you can. You’ll learn how to prepare for conquering your writing career. A word of advice: If this is the stage you’re at in your journey, now is not the time to schedule a meeting with an agent or editor. Don’t take one of their meeting slots if you don’t have a proposal to pitch.
- Meeting other writers. I’ve heard writers comment that one of the greatest blessings of attending a conference is making lasting friendships with other writers. Mixing with others writers at a conference is one of the best ways to find or start a critique group among writers with whom you feel comfortable and challenged.
Okay, your turn. Add to this list and tell us about one of your experiences at a conference. What is one thing you learned that was especially influential in your writing journey?
Agents and writers benefit from conference attendance. Click to Tweet.
It isn’t too early in your writing journey to attend a writers conference. Click to Tweet.
@marygkeeley lists agent and writer benefits of writers conferences. Click to Tweet.