Saturday, May 27

Conference Season

I got an email the other day reminding me that the Surrey International Writers Conference opens for registration on June 1, 2017. I attended last October and had a wonderful time that I wrote about here on Word Wranglers. I took in several interesting and informative workshops led by knowledgeable  presenters. I met many interesting writers of all genres from all over North America, and I had a chance to pitch to a couple of well-known agents. I’m tempted to go again this year.

But do I need to?

I had a great time. It was a positive experience from beginning to end. But if I don’t have something to pitch to an agent or editor, which I likely won’t since I plan to self-publish this year, I’m not sure I should go. It’s an expensive proposition, but at least it’s in Canadian dollars. Trust me, the US to Canadian exchange rate is brutal.

I heard about a conference called the 20 Book Conference to be held in Los Vegas November 3-5, 2017. It is specially designed for indie writers/publishers. According to the schedule, a number of speakers are presenting workshops on subjects pertinent to indie writers. Maybe this is what I need right now. And the price is right; $99USD. Even I can afford that.

I believe it’s the first year for the 20 Book Conference. Going to a conference where I don’t know anyone and I’m not sure what to expect is a little out of my comfort zone. I’ve been to the Surrey Conference twice so I know it will be a good experience. But maybe I need to take a step out of my comfort zone and see what’s out there. Maybe I should look at going to a different conference from either of these two. Or maybe I should just stay home and write.

So, fellow Word Wranglers and dear readers, when should a writer go to a conference and why? What conferences would you recommend?

26 comments:

  1. I think it's very good to get around some. When Nan & I went to a conference a few years ago, it was my favorite one ever; when we went to the same one the next time, it...wasn't. Good post, Jana. Makes me think...

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    1. It's unfortunate that the same conference was so different from one year to the other. I'm guessing it was a different organizing committee, perhaps one not as experienced. It's a bit of a crap shoot. You don't always know what to expect.

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  2. I've always enjoyed the RWA national conference (it's pricey), and I'm going to Lori Foster's Reader/Author Get Together this year...and really looking forward to it. But I actually prefer writers retreats - getting together with writer friends for a few days, writing, brainstorming, talking...it refills the well!

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    1. I've never gone to RWA National, mainly because of the price, but it's definitely something I want to attend some day. The Lori Foster Get Together sounds like something I'd really like to go to because it's so focused on readers and I think that's where I need to be. I really have to look into something like in the future. Is there a waiting list for authors to attend?

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    2. About writing retreats, I absolutely love them. Like you said, it refills the well. You might remember I attended one in early April. We had so much fun we're doing it again in November. I can't wait!

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    3. I definitely vote for writers' retreats! I'd like to go to RWA national, but it is pricy and then there's air fare and accommodations... Maybe someday.:) Maybe we should have a roses retreat!

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  3. Interesting questions, Jana. I dunno about conferences--as Liz said the Spring Fling we attended in 2014 was fabulous and we had a blast--the next one in 2016, not so much, although I did pitch there and that was a new experience. I think the one in Vegas sounds interesting if you can handle the expenses. You'll meet a lot of new writers...I might give it a thought.

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    1. Oh Nan, I would love if you could come! I know from attending Surrey last fall (I went on my own) that I have to go with an open mind and an open heart, willing to talk with and listen to everyone. It's not always easy for an introvert like me. But it would be nice to have a friend there. I will have my husband there, however. When I mentioned to him that I was thinking about going, he said if I'm going, he's going. And no, he's not a gambler. He'd go for the golfing!

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  4. And yes, what you said, Kristi, I prefer retreats, too.

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  5. I'm a big fan of going to conferences for several reasons, and the Surrey conference is one I'd love to attend. It has always sounded good to me. I love visiting that area and this year I'll be speaking at the Emerald Cities Conference in Bellevue, which I've enjoyed in the past. To me conferences are a great opportunity to spend time with other writers, get market information, and if there is a book sale or signing it gives you an opportunity to meet readers.

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    1. Good points. Lots of ways to connect. Wish I were closer, I'd come to hear you speak. :)

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  6. All good reasons, Rebecca. I've heard good things about the Emerald Cities Conference and would love to attend that one. I highly recommend the Surrey Conference. There's a real air of congeniality at the conference, and the presenters are first rate. I'm sure you'd love it!

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  7. Great post, Jana.
    As someone said, it makes me think.
    I've done RWA a number of times in the past and always came away with a massive headache from sensory overload. That said, I personally prefer smaller, more local conferences or retreats such as but not limited to: the Maine Authors Retreat [every May]; New England Conference [April I think]; Liberty States Fiction Writers [March] and New Jersey's Put Your Heart in a Book [October].
    Each of these is within driving distance for me [though I wouldn't mind a return trip to Vegas!]; they are infinitely less expensive than RWA and RT; and due to the locations, agents and editors from New York come for the day. They are small-ish and therefore cozy. You have time to think and meet new people.
    I'd recommend all of them for new and experienced writers.
    Good luck!
    Kat Henry Doran/Veronica Lynch

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Kat. Aside from the expense, the intimidating size of RWA National has also kept me away. But I'd like to go at least once, just to experience it. These all sound like great conferences. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing within driving distance for me. I have to fly wherever I go, so in some ways, the distance doesn't really matter. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. The only one I've been to is the Emerald Cities Conference about 5 years ago. It was lovely--great speakers, informative workshops, nice hotel near fun shopping and eateries, enjoyable pastimes. I wouldn't mind going again, but also like the idea of trying new spots. Good luck on your search. Will be excited to hear about where you end up.

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    1. Thanks Amity. I'm feeling very conflicted, and a little out of my comfort zone. I'll keep you posted.

      I've heard a lot about Emerald City. Sounds like it's a good one.

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  9. Thanks for posting about this topic, Jana. I was at the Surrey Conference last year. Maybe I even talked to you. I've been there three times and have enjoyed it each time. As you said, there's a real air of friendliness about the conference. I'm not going this year because I have nothing to pitch and I find it's better if I skip a year. I have looked into the Emerald City Romance Conference. It would be nice to attend a conference that's devoted to romance writers. But the Canadian dollar is low right now and the cost of the hotel is very high. The conference you mentioned in Vegas sounds interesting. I might look into that. I've always wanted to go to RWA, but the cost is prohibitive. I always feel rejuvenated when I return from a conference. I haven't been much help, have I? Maybe I'll see you at Surrey next year.

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    1. C.B. don't tell me we were at the same conference and didn't know it! I wish I'd known. It's possible we did speak; I tried to make a point of talking to a lot of people. I think you're right about going every second or third year. But it just would be lovely to see people I me there once again.

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  10. I'm a big fan of the NJ chapter's RWA conference--NJRW--held every October. It's smaller than RWA (which is massive), but since it's close to NYC, we get lots of great editors, agents and writers attending, accepting pitches and giving workshops.

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    1. I've heard great things about the NJ RWA conference, Jennifer--I'd love to try that one!

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    2. Yes, I've heard good things too. Another one to put on my list.

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  11. Hi Jana. Thanks for this post. Unfortunately, my location does not make it viable for me to attend US Conferences...I'll have to wait until I sell a few thousand (or tens of thousand!) books. So reading what you and the other authors have to say, is really interesting. Does anybody know of a conference that targets primarily readers rather than authors? (Although I do know that authors are readers too.) Best, Anni xx

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    1. The huge RT conference that happened earlier this month Anni.

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    2. Anni, I feel your pain. Even though I live just across the border in Canada, the exchange rate being what it is makes it difficult for me to travel in the US. Claire is right that RT or Romantic Times conference is very much about readers, as I understand it. Kristina mentioned above the Lori Foster Reader/Author Get Together. readerauthorgettomgether.com I believe this is always held in Cincinnati and is all about authors connecting with readers. It's one I'm very interested in.

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  12. Hi Jana, I hope you do go to the Las Vegas conference and tell us how it was. It sounds like you need a new experience in conferences. I have gone to the Emerald City conference for two years and loved it and always got something out of it. Since you are self publishing and the Las Vegas conference has that for a focus it seems like a great choice and to have your husband's company is always nice!

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    1. Yes, I believe you're right DeeDee. Maybe it's time to step out of my comfort zone. Thanks for the encouragement!

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