in Authorpreneur

How to Attend a Writing Conference (And Make it Worth Your Time)

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We’ve already talked about how writing conferences are a GREAT way to build your author platform, but they can be a tad overwhelming. Here are some tips for making the most out of your time and money!

1.      Know Thyself

Different conferences have different emphases and it is important to know what they are before you buy your plane tickets. It is even more important to know what you want out of the conference experience. Ask yourself the following questions:

What kind of writer am I? Romance? Non-fiction? Thriller? YA?

Choose a conference that caters to your genre, or even specializes in it. Don’t attend the Children Writers and Illustrators Conference if you are writing something that would be better suited for Thrillerfest.

Where am I in the writing process?

If you have just started writing or you’re working on extensive editing, it may not be very helpful to attend a conference like The New York Pitch Conference with an emphasis on marketing and publishing. It might, however, be interesting to get a manuscript critique at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. Research conferences to find one that fit your goals.


2. Read the Fine Print

Any conference with hundreds or even thousands of attendees will have some important rules to keep everything under control. Keep in mind that if you want a manuscript critique there will be a deadline to submit that manuscript for review. As you research conferences, pay attention to the “early bird” registration fees. You can save A LOT of money by registering early.

Be sure you know what amenities your accommodations will have. A lot of writing conferences have workshops with “homework” that may require computers and printers that your hotel or dorm room does not have.

3. Pack Wisely

You should pack for your personal well-being as well as your book’s well-being when planning for a conference.  Here’s a basic list of what to bring:

For your book:


Your best elevator pitch – Keep it to 2-3 short sentences that tell other conferences attendees exactly what you’re writing and why.

Copies of your book’s synopsis/Ebook cards featuring your cover and back cover copy – If they love your elevator pitch, offer them a chance to learn more about your book.

Business cards – Be sure that when you make connections with other writers that they have a way of contacting you and finding your website after the conference.

For you:

Snacks and/or cash for vending machines – A long day of workshops and events can get even longer if your stomach is growling the whole time.

Folders and Notebooks – You will get conference schedules, maps, and handouts that you should keep organized. You will also want something to take notes in during workshops and presentations.

Camera – Your pictures will help you remember the people you meet and will make it easy to talk about the event on your blog.

A comfortable bag – If you’re going to carry around your things all day you’ll need something other than your suitcase that you can carry for long periods of time.

Professional Clothing – You don’t have to be dressed to the nines, but keep in mind that attending a conference is a business opportunity. Business casual is a safe bet for most conferences. Keep in mind that comfortable shoes are a must. You don’t want to miss out on something just because you couldn’t keep walking around in those super cute pumps.

4. Network!

Sit with people you don’t know at events and meals. Smile! Ask for business cards. And follow up with your new acquaintances after the event.

5. Take Time to Learn

Conferences are a lot of work, but you should enjoy yourself. Take workshops from amazing writers, learn from your fellow conference attendees, and come home with a new perspective on authorpreneurship!

What suggestions do you have for attending a writing conference? Do you have questions we haven’t answered?


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