Monday, October 10, 2005

Tips for Writers: Conferences

Here's my tip for conferences: Go.

End of post.

Just kidding. Well, sort of. I just got back from an RWA conference in Seattle and it was awesome. I almost didn't go because I was hip deep in revisions, I wasn't feeling the need to be inspired, and I was feeling a little stingy with the pocketbook. But the night before the conference, I finally just decided to go. Made the reservation, hopped in the car, and off I went.

And now that I'm back, I just keep shaking my head at what an idiot I would have been to stay home. It was a fantastic experience. Not only did I learn something important in EVERY SINGLE workshop I went to (open minds are awesome!), but I met some fabulous new people that I know I will keep in touch with, and I re-bonded with some folks I already knew. I picked up some key nuggets about the industry, I completely humiliated myself in one of the most embarrassing conference moments ever and lived to tell about it, I got inspired, I picked up some excellent tips for my own writing, I had a great time being surrounded by people who do what I do and think it's great, I got to watch some friends do some kick butt karayoke... the list goes on and on. I cannot even believe I considered not going. It's three hours away! There is no excuse for missing out!

Conferences are so amazing. You learn about craft, about the business, about the industry. You meet other writers and inspire them and gain inspiration in return. You learn from others, you give someone else an ah ha! moment that they will never forget. You are plunged right smack into the middle of the world that you labor over in the loneliness of your own room. There is simply no substitute for getting out there and learning, networking, pitching your book and embracing this path that you're on.

If you go to conferences, you will sell sooner and be more successful than if you never do. I feel so strongly about that, that I won't even qualify that by saying it's only my opinion.

Are you shy? Get over it. Go. All writers are introverts. Dig deep, find the courage, and go. You'll be astounded at how easy it is to get to know romance writers. They are wonderful, funny, caring and so willing to help out anyone with a question.

Are you short on money? So what? Pick a local conference, find cheap airfare, share a hotel room, present at the conference (speakers are often given breaks on their conference fee, and even if you're a newbie, you might be an expert on something in your other life that people would want to hear about), give up coffee and put all your coffee money in a shoebox until you've saved up enough to go, then GO.

Are you short on time? Find time. Your career will not be handed to you. You must force time into your schedule for writing and conferences and workshops, then guard that time ferociously.

Do you feel like you are at a place in your career where a conference is of no benefit to you? Get over yourself and go.

If you want to become a published author and have a career, go to at least one conference a year. Do it!


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