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Why You Need a Conference

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Are you feeling isolated? A wee bit lonely? Sort of stuck, wondering what your next step should be? The answer may be a conference. No matter what dream you’re chasing—whether it’s novelist, crafter, small business owner, screenplay writer, entrepreneur, artist, musician, blogger—there is almost certainly a conference, convention or gathering designed around it.

You need to go.

Yes, I know it may be expensive. It may require travel. It will take you away from your home and family and regularly-scheduled life for a couple of days.

Go anyway.

The benefits far outweigh any of the negatives. Here’s why.

Connections

At a conference, you get to meet others chasing the same dream. I just got back from the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. It was my first time there and I wanted to slap my forehead, wondering why I hadn’t gone before. I’ve known dozens of these folks online, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction with others asking the same questions and facing the same unique challenges.

Let’s face it, most of us work alone and that can get pretty lonesome. Here’s a chance to make new friends, trade tips and strategies and develop a circle to keep you connected.

I also got to meet many of my fellow Abingdon Press Fiction authors for the first time. What fun to hang out and get to know them. It made me feel like part of the team.

 

Abingdon Press Fiction authors

Abingdon Press Fiction authors gathering at ACFW conference

Networking

Today, marketing is about relationships and relationships are about, well, people. Nothing beats a personal connection to start building those networks.

For a writer, the best way to meet and gain access to editors and agents is at a conference. Panels and spotlights are especially helpful in getting a glimpse into the respective agents’ and editors’ personalities, mindsets and the types of projects they are looking for.

Education

The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Conferences are a great way to get educated. I took wonderful classes on everything from honing my craft to marketing. The professionals teaching the workshops were so willing to offer help, encouragement and advice to everyone in attendance.

Renewal

The most valuable workshop I attended had nothing to do with writing, but with me, the writer. Conferences fill the creative well and help you recharge your batteries. I came home exhausted but refreshed, renewed and ready to dive back into my next project.

My advice? Find a conference in your field and go. You’ll be so glad you did.

Have you attended a great conference? I’d love to hear about it.

And if we’re not Facebook friends yet, I’d love to connect with you that way. Just send me a friend request.

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    The Conversation

  1. Jan Jackson says:

    Connie,
    This is so true. I had the same experience with the recent STAR Super Saturday. There’s nothing better than spending time with other writers. Not to mention rubbing shoulders with industry professionals. As you said, I always learn something new and come back inspired.
    Take the leap. If your budget can’t swing a conference fee, try one of these smaller events. The one I attended featured Agent Michelle Grajkowski and Author/Editor Anna DeStefano. Both were excellent speakers and took pitch appointments.
    Jan

    • Connie Mann says:

      Great advice, Jan, thanks. There are great regional conferences all over, if you can’t make a national one.

      Glad you came home inspired and ready to keep going! Here’s hoping your pitch appointments net you offers! Keep me posted…fingers crossed…

  2. Lisa Rayns says:

    Great post, Connie.

  3. Patti Hill says:

    When aspiring writers ask me how to break into the writing industry, I always tell them to go to a conference. Like every other industry, publishing is relationship based. Let the editors, agents, and other writers see your face, hear the passion in your voice, and hold your words in their hands. Go humbly, because if you’re willing you will learn more about the craft of writing in a few days than you ever could on your own. And meet great people.

    You know, I just meant to say amen to your wisdom, Connie.

    • Connie Mann says:

      You summed it up so well, Patti! Conferences are wonderful, especially if, as you said, you go humbly, with an open heart.

      So good to “meet” you! Many thanks for stopping by!