Thursday, June 09, 2011

IS ATTENDING CONFERENCES WORTHWHILE?

Current Project: LEGACY family action series
Status: First book almost ready to go to publisher
Posted by: Genene Valleau

I used to go to every conference I could afford. I loved seeing people in person that I had only previously met online. Though nervous and unsure of myself, I waited with many others for a chance to meet an editor who could boost my manuscripts to the coveted status of "published." I absorbed material presented at workshops and came home motivated to write, edit, submit, and write again.


However, times have changed for me and I rarely go to conferences any more. Why not? Well, here are some things I consider before deciding to go to a conference.


Even after almost twenty years of writing, I still enjoy workshops and know there's always something to learn about the craft and business of writing. Conferences can provide wonderful workshops. However, I can also find great workshops online.


In spite of being an introvert, I enjoy meeting writers, editors, agents, booksellers and others involved in getting a book from creative brain to bookshelf. Again, I can "meet" all these people online, though it's not the same for me as meeting someone in person.


When I was trying to sell to the big New York publishers, going to conferences meant a chance to meet editors in person. Perhaps they would request my treasured manuscript and I could write "requested material" on the envelope that moved my dream higher up in the pile to be read and considered for publication. However, my dream of being published came in the form of e-books and print-on-demand books--before that became the "latest rage." With no desire to sell to NY publishers, there's no longer a need to join the queue of hopefuls at conferences waiting to meet a handful of editors.


I've never seriously pursued getting an agent. Even when I was trying to sell to the NY publishers, I was targeting category lines that didn't require an agent. So that was never a big consideration for me to go to conferences.


Added to this list are financial and personal considerations I weigh before deciding to attend a conference. How much will the conference really cost when adding up registration, hotel, airfare or gas for my vehicle, meals, etc.? Will the time lost when I could be writing be balanced by what I gain from the conference? I also have a small herd of doggies that I would need to arrange care and spoiling for while I'm gone.


When I weigh the personal and financial costs against the benefits, I rarely go to conferences any more.


Will that change? I've learned to never say "never." In the meantime, I'll keep writing and publishing with my e-book publisher, looking for new readers and ways to cost effectively promote my books.


Now I'm going to turn the question back to you: is attending conferences worthwhile FOR YOU?

4 comments:

Paty Jager said...

I attended a RWA conference two months after joining National and not even knowing there were such things as chapters. I was overwhelmed by all the friendly people and the information. But it was also a wonderful experience to be talking with other writers. I came away to jazzed I know I vibrated from head to toe.

Now I tend to only go to conferences if I've pitched a workshop and I get a reduced rate by being a presenter. I still attend workshops that have topics of interest or I'm struggling with. And until I get a couple books written in my cozy mystery series, I'll not be flashing myself to agents or editors. The romances from here on out will either go to my ebook publisher or I'll published them myself.

Even though I'm a corner sitter at conferences, I do believe by being a presenter it gets me more exposure then sitting at home would.

I've bought books by presenters whose workshops I liked.

But everyone has their own reasons for attending conferences.

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Paty, thanks for stopping by! I also loved conferences a few years ago--and also still remember the wonderful "jazzed" feeling I went home with. (That's a great way to put it.)

Guess I'm in a different place now, and who knows what the future will bring.

I'm not at the point where I feel really comfortable yet being a speaker, so I admire that you are doing that--especially when you claim to be a corner sitter. :)

chanceofbooks said...

I don't know. That's my answer right now. With my renewed sense of purpose, I think a local(ish) conference like Emerald city might make sense as it would allow me to grow my book blogger brand while also gaining the chance to pitch my fiction projects. I'm going to consider Emerald City if I final in their contest or continue to grow the book blog AND finish this manuscript on schedule. I think it might be momentum building for me. But nationals? Like Paty I did my first nationals way too soon. I don't see going back there unless I was a GH finalist or pubbed.

Genene Valleau said...

I've never been to Emerald City, but have heard fabulous things about it. One of these days...

I loved Nationals! But the timing was just about perfect. I had been in RWA over ten years, had a couple completed manuscripts to pitch, and some other ideas for others.

As you said, timing might be a big consideration.