Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Should Authors Attend Writing Conferences?

Authors attend writing conferences for a number of reasons. Some want that coveted one-on-one critique with an editor or agent. Others want to meet their favorite authors. And some simply love to network. But let's face it, conferences can be long, tiring and expensive. So are they really worth attending?

In my experience, yes, they are. This past weekend I attended the regional SCBWI annual conference in Kansas City. I signed up for an agent critique, had my business cards in hand to network, and planned which writing workshops to attend. But the greatest thing about the conference wasn't the expected--it was the unexpected.

The agent critique went how I anticipated. Networking with other authors was good. I even had the privilege of chatting with this year's Newberry Award winner, Clare Vanderpool. I also attended some of the agent/editor workshops. But what really impressed me were the author presentations. This isn't the first time I've been surprised by this. Who knew writers could be such good public speakers? But they are. Maybe it's because they've been in our shoes and know what we need and want to learn.

One presentation was by middle grade author ChrisEboch. She talked about plotting techniques, and had some great strategies that could be implemented into an author's work-in-progress. She has a new book out called "Advanced Plotting," and also covers many of these topics on her blog.

The other author presentation that really impressed me was on novel structure and world building with award-winning author LindaSue Park. She explained her personal method for writing, a lot of which can be easily translated into any genre. She has a brief outline posted on her website. Park also gave the keynote address that served as a great motivator to all the authors in attendance (another good reason to go to writing conferences!)

Even if you take away just one helpful writing technique or make one meaningful contact, then attending a writing conference is worth it. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be an author presenter inspiring other writers (so brush up on your public speaking skills!)

Leave a comment and tell us what you think about attending writing conferences!

--KSR Writer

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