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Writing Conferences

In both 2013 and 2014 I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference. It’s huge, and it’s wonderful, and I’m sorry to be missing it this year. I hope to add it back into my rotation of conferences next year.

Last year I attended the DFW Writers Conference which was also awesome, and again I wish I were going this year. But I’m trying to change it up a bit.

I’m currently trying to decide between Willamette and Writers Digest which occur this year on the same weekend in August. I’ll have to decide soon since registration rates go up at the end of the month.

What do I look for in a conference? Well, I like fairly large conferences because they usually offer more panels, classes, and workshops than smaller ones do. And there’s also something nice about being able to blend into the crowd a bit. Larger conferences often have more agents and editors in attendance, too.

I look for pitching opportunities at conferences. These often require an additional fee, but it’s worth it (to me) to get the chance to chat face-to-face with agents and editors about my books.

The down side of big conferences is that they usually cost more, and if you’re hoping to stand out in the crowd that can be very difficult to do.

I also look at who the speakers and agents are at a conference. Are there any agents I’ve met and would like to chat with again? Anyone I haven’t met but are on my list of people to query? Do the keynotes sound interesting?

Other questions: Do the classes and panels sound like a good fit for me and my work (my genre, or where I am in my career)? If it’s all for unpublished writers, people just beginning, then it won’t be right for me. If the focus is on horror or science fiction, then that’s also a no for me. And what about the networking opportunities? Aside from pitching, will I have any other chances to chat with agents, editors, or even my fellow authors?

Which leads me to the practical considerations. A lot of the time the networking happens over meals or a reception. Are any meals included in the conference, or are we on our own? Where is the conference being held and is there a special hotel rate available for attendees? What time of year is it scheduled? Because if it’s in Buffalo, NY in February then I’m not going. #NOtoSNOW

I chose SFWC because it’s local to where I live. I chose DFW Con because I have a number of friends living in the area and was able to roll the trip into a chance to see them, too. I went to a screenwriting conference in L.A. a couple years ago because it wasn’t too far to go and the pitching opportunities were really good.

With limited funds and vacation days (by which I mean days in which my husband can take off to watch the kids), I have to be selective about my conferences. So far I’ve been lucky to attend some great ones. I hope this year I’ll get to broaden my horizons. And before long, I hope to be a conference guest or panelist in my own right.


Reviews are coming in for The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, calling it “captivating” and “compelling.” If you haven’t already bought it, get it now!



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