Working as a ghostwriter can sometimes leave me feeling a little bit isolated. Heading out on the road to a writer’s conference though is often just what the doctor ordered.
The bump in energy after attending a writers conference can carry me quite a long way. Just today, I came back from the Willamette Writer’s Conference in Portland, Oregon and I’m feeling as good as I’ve felt in a long time.
The first few weeks after getting home, I tend to write and connect with my tribe with a renewed sense of purpose. For my creative process, regular attendance at a writer’s conference is important.
Attending writers conferences should be a regular part of your experience. Whether you’re a ghostwriter or an aspiring fiction, non-fiction or screenwriter, I recommend carving out a regular series of conferences you can attend that will advance your craft and won’t break the bank in the process.
Here are four key things to consider when choosing conference:
Ghostwriter Tip #1 – Cost
I’ll come out and discuss the toughest factor first. Conferences cost money. There is the cost of admission. If the conference is out of town, you have to get there. You’ll have to eat and sleep too.
Then there are the add-ons to consider. Pitches. Manuscript critiques. And, if you’re like me, there can sometimes be a hefty bar tab at the end of the night. After all, people tend to meet people at the bar.
Be sure to look at the bottom line makes sense for what you can afford.
Ghostwriter Tip #2 – What Fish Am I?
I think about this factor… perhaps too much. What kind of a fish will I be?
When I attend the mega-conferences, I feel like the proverbial little fish in a big pond. Sitting in a thriller or mystery class at one of these conferences, I likely won’t be sitting by a doe-eyed amateur.
That other guy probably has a few books under his belt and I may well know his name.
On the other hand, when I choose to attend a small conference there is more of a chance of feeling like the resident professional. People may actually look at me as that big fish.
Neither of these relationships should deter you. You’re likely in the middle. Just be sure you’re ready.
Ghostwriter Tip #3 – What Do I Want?
Some conferences are craft oriented. Some are all about the business. There are still others that are driven to a very specific niche in the publishing world.
Your brand new techno-thriller won’t do well at a romance writers shindig.
Be sure you read the description of the conference you’re sizing up before hand. If you’re unsure for any reason, email someone at the conference who can help you understand what their focus is.
Ghostwriter Tip #4 – How Likely Are You To Get Back?
This is something writers rarely consider, but I think is among the most critical. How likely am I to get back to this conference on a regular basis?
I have attended the Willamette Writer’s Conference eleven years running. Last year I decided to attend the North Coast Redwood Writers Conference in Crescent City, California for the first time. After some consideration, I found that it fit a lot of what I was looking for: it was an out of town experience that wasn’t too expensive with a laid back focus on craft.
Why does this matter? You’re going to make connections and the best way to foster those is coming back year after year. If you’re in LA and the conference is in NY, going back each year may be a stretch.
If you’re looking for great resources on conference, check out Poets & Writers and Writers Digest. These magazines frequently cover a whole host of national and international writer’s conferences.
Do you have ideas on how to choose the best writer’s conference for you? Leave them in the comments below.
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Erick MertzAsk A Ghostwriter – The Right Conference
Writer networking is as important as writing time.
Writing is a solitary pursuit. By nature, the craft is best executed in a state of near meditation.
To become a successful professional writer or ghostwriter though, you’re going to need to meet other people. I’ll wait for that shock wave to wash over you… but it is true. Your story comes by reaching down into you.
But your story also comes from reaching out to others.
This weekend is the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. It’s the high holidays of my writing year, the beginning of my calendar. One of the premier writer networking gatherings on the west coast, this weekend is a golden opportunity to look at best practices on how to interact to get the most out of your time out.
People remember those who help them. Even if it’s just opening a door or helping a wayward soul find a conference room, be of assistance whenever you can.
I work volunteer for this conference for this simple reason. Sure, my time gets me a steep discount on admission, but having a task and a practical purpose helps with my anxiety.
Don’t Be “That Person”:
My favorite agent is here. So is my all time favorite producer. These are “the who” I need to know to get where I need to go.
But these folks are here working. They’re here to please their bosses and with that comes stress. Give your target people space. Let them breathe. If your tastemaker is in the lobby and they’re pondering a text, do not bombard them.
Don’t Be Starstruck:
The opposite of the above is also true… do not be intimidated by “the who” you are here to meet. They’re here to meet, mingle and make connections too. If your person is at the bar, don’t be shy. Strike up that conversation. Say hey.
One of the key mistakes writers make is focusing ALL of their networking energy on agents and managers. Most writers forget the hundreds of other people walking around.
I work as an editor, so my fellow writers are a place to network for new business. That isn’t the extent though. The friends you make on the way up in the writing game are absolutely key. I could write a whole blog on this (and likely will) but writer networking makes it imperative to connect with your peers and make them colleagues.
To return to a previous theme. Help one another.
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