Friday, July 30, 2010

Gone to a Writer’s Conference Lately?


Today I’m trying to sort of poll fellow writers out there across the country and see what kind of writing conferences you have gone to in the last 6 to 12 months. There’s quite a bit out there and after attending my first writer’s conference up in San Francisco this year, I’m interesting in attending others. There are medium sized ones down in southern California around L.A., San Diego and Palm Springs, and there are also small ones like the one-day conference out in Half Moon Bay or the slightly bigger East of Eden Conference in Salinas. And of course there are the big time ones that take place in New York and other major cities across the world. But what I’d like to know today is…are any of them worthwhile?

I don’t really have an answer to this, that’s why I need you. For myself, I can say that the San Francisco Writer’s Conference was certainly valuable both as a chance to learn about the industry and to make contacts with everyone from authors to editors to agents. I suppose that would be my basic prerequisite for attending another conference, i.e. does it meet those same basic necessities of networking and continuing to grow in both art and business. I also realize that travel is involved when doing conferences farther afield, so I definitely wouldn’t want to venture all the way to Hawaii or Paris or somewhere else if it wasn’t really a guaranteed worthwhile experience.

So what do you think? What have been your most enjoyable conferences and your not so worthwhile ones? What do you look for in a good get-together of likeminded writers? Some people I know aren’t too crazy about conferences in general and I fully understand this feeling, but I feel that the potential pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to broadening oneself. So let me know your thoughts, and hey, maybe I’ll see you at the next writer’s conference!  


  1. I'd be interested in doing a BIG CITY conference, it seems like the kind of conference where you'd get to network with a lot of people and get a lot of interesting ideas....

  2. I went to the Alaska Writers' Guild Conference last year and am going again in September. It was extremely valuable, especially paying a little extra for a manuscript review.

    This year Janet Reid and Andrea Brown will both be at the conference- it should be a good one!

  3. From: Meghan
    Hi Mark!

    Actually there's a writer/book fair happening tomorrow in Roseville if you're interested in going. My friend Sarbjit (I met her at the SFWC actually) is working one of the booths. I want to go but it's a bit touch and go; an old whiplash injury is bothering me this week so I REALLY want to go but I may not be able to stay long if I do. Still, I'll try and it looks like a good way to network!

    I'll try to email you the link. If you have any writer's groups you're interested in, let me know. :)

    Meghan yori

  4. From: Brian

    hey mark,
    read the post and i think you know more about the conferences than i do. in fact, i hate to say, i have never been to a writing conference. please inform me!

    how do you find out about these? next time you find one -- let me know.

    i do think it's a great way to network and see how the field is going. more than that i have always looked at my writing is a side venture to teaching, and aside from taking a couple of writing classes in SD -- well that's my exposure to the writing world.

  5. Mark,

    I was at the Writers' Workshop in Maui a few years ago. While it was valuable, I found it frustrating that so little of my work was actually read and critiqued in an entire week. I think a good local writers' group that meets regularly and/or a network of writing friends can be extraordinarily valuable for purposes of getting feedback on one's work. As far as meeting agents at conferences is concerned, of course that can be valuable, but I think agents respond also to well-written query letters; I'm not sure it's necessary to go to the expense of attending a conference just (or primarily) for the opportunity to meet agents. Just one person's opinion.

  6. Definitely valid points Ron:) I think you've given voice to what a lot of us would-be writers were already thinking. That's disappointing that you didn't get many critiques at the Maui conference, did they at least have agents for you to meet? Let me know, because I am curious to learn more about that conference myself, thanks:)