You see conferences posted all the time, and a lot of them just seem like a way to separate you from your money. And pry you out of your writer hole to interact with other human beings.
Occasionally, though, there are some good conferences that are worth attending.
We’ve discussed other author events, like book fairs and whether they are right for you, HERE
I went to the Florida Writer’s Association “mini conference” Saturday in Orlando. I’d never gone to anything like that before, and I had no idea what to expect.
Well, that’s exactly not true. I’d been to conferences for work lots of times; I just never went to a conference about writing. That, I tended to learn on line. Why would I need to go sit all day in a classroom? With, you know, people?
About twenty minutes before the conference started there were 35 people sitting in the room not saying a freaking word to each other.
Yep, that’s a group of writers. I’m in the right place.
Throughout the day there were maybe 200 attendees. Sessions were on landing an agent, marketing, writing your memoir, writing tools, etc. Each session was its own all-day thing, so I floated around to spend an hour or two in each one.
One particularly interesting session was titled How To Make Money Writing. Well, who doesn’t want to do that?
It was hosted by author and writer Sharon Ward Keeble, an international journalist for more than two decades who specializes in articles about real-life people for a wide variety of national daily newspapers and weekly women’s magazines in the UK, U.S. and Australia. She also is an author and ghost writer, having penned a personal memoir about her adventures backpacking in China and her latest book, The Horse Girl.
So she’s walked the walk – for a long time – making money off her writing. We will be featuring here on these pages soon.
Plus she has a British accent, so I’ll try to get her to say “brilliant” a few times. Cos we love that.
I’ll be honest, the breakout marketing session only had about 12 participants, and only 1 other person besides me had put a book out, so the topics stayed kind of entry level. But the people leading the class were professionals who’d done author promotions with NY Times authors for years, so they were worth meeting. (If you can’t benefit from networking with the students, network with the instructors.)
And think about it: if there are only 12 people in a class, you can easily dominate the session and get all the information you need. I mean… you can get a lot more one on one time.
That’s what I meant.
Don’t take over the group.
A few tips from ME about sneaky as Hell marketing stuff HERE
If you’ve never gone to a writer’s conference before – I hadn’t – you probably should. You need to get out of the house for something besides your kid’s soccer practice, and it’s a great way to learn a few things, to reinforce some things, and to network. As much as I learn on websites or watching online tutorials, there’s something to be said for real in-person interaction and meeting fellow wordsmiths who actually live near you. You could, say, go have coffee and discuss writer stuff.
You’ll have to introduce yourself, though, because most don’t talk…
I had a good time doing writer stuff with writer types, in person. What a nice change. It’s easy on the internet to expose yourself to lots and lots of writers who are more successful than you – and make yourself feel inadequate as a result. At a conference, you’ll see who can help you move to the next level, and who you can help move up a step – and trust me, helping people feels good. Odds are you’ll learn something from them, too.
The Florida Writer’s Association has a full 4 day conference in October. Since it’s a writing related expense like training, it’s probably a tax deduction for your book writing business. I’ll be there, and you should think about coming.
There are worse places to be in October than Orlando, and just you might learn something!
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