In my most recent post, I touched on why authors should attend a writers conference, focusing on two main reasons: First, it’s a great place to pitch your book to an agent or editor. And, second, it’s a place to be around other people who take writing seriously, allowing you to find new inspiration and encouragement.
In this post, I want to touch on another (multifaceted) reason why writers conferences are a great idea for authors: knowledge.
When you attend a writers conference, you have the opportunity to be empowered with knowledge from at least three sources: speakers, agents/editors, other writers.
The first of these—speakers—is likely the one that most of us think of in regard to being fed knowledge at a conference of any kind. And speakers can be a great fount of knowledge, whether they are presenting a keynote address, a clinic, a workshop, etc.
As you look at the conference schedule ahead of time, plan your session times wisely so that you can hear those speakers who will address topics that matter most to you. Also be sure to jot down questions you might be able to ask during Q&A time, or if you get the chance to talk to the speaker one on one during free time.
When you are actually in a session, take plenty of notes and also write down any new questions that come to mind as the speaker presents his or her material. At the end of the conference, you’ll (hopefully) know more about not only the craft of writing, but also the business of book publishing, and every bit of it might help you in your own journey as an author.
The next source of knowledge: agents/editors. If you have a pitch session with an agent/editor, of course you want to be ready to present your book to attract interest, but be sure to also go in with a willingness to learn—because if an agent/editor offers you any feedback, it can be precious knowledge that can help you further enhance your book to make it even more powerful and engaging.
Finally, you can also learn a lot from other writers in attendance—whether they’re old hands or just starting out. So take every opportunity to talk to other authors: first, just to make new friends and connect with like-minded wordsmiths, and also to find out about their own journey and the knowledge they’ve gleaned along the way.
Sure, you can discover a lot of “knowledge” just by clicking your mouse and sifting through a gazillion websites on writing. And a lot of it is great stuff that’s legitimate. At the same time, to be at a conference and learning from others in person is not something you can experience virtually.
With all that said, a final thought: Please don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed by any of this! From planning your conference schedule and then actually taking notes at workshops to talking to agents/editors and hanging out with other authors, just take it moment by moment. If the knowledge you glean sounds like something that will work for you, great! If not, just let it sit in your notes for another time down the road.
So take all the knowledge you can get, but remember that it doesn’t control your path and that you as the author have the reins. That means you should go into any writers conference with a happy, peaceful expectation of enjoying your time and being further empowered as an author.
And if you’re in the Philadelphia region, please check out the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, taking place July 26-29. Hope to see you there!