Last Saturday, I spoke at a writers’ conference in Columbia, Missouri, on a publishing panel. There were about 20 writers in the audience, at all career stages, and they asked some good questions. The question I pose here is “should you attend writers’ conferences?”
There are many great things about writers’ conferences: you get meet other writers, you get to pick up bits of wisdom and best practices and great ideas, and you get to socialize with others just like you. Plus, you make contacts that might be of help to your career, if not now, later.
You might even sell some books!
This can be a sticky point.
You could sell one or two. Or twenty—but that doesn’t happen often. However, if you have other material, like bookmarks or business cards, people can pick those up and might go online to buy your books. Just remember, people often buy your books because you’ve made a personal connection—so get out of your shell and TALK TO PEOPLE.
I know, that can be scary, but folks won’t flock around your table if you’re sitting there in silence . . .
On the subject of book buying, a real danger at conferences is coming home with a ton of books—I know, I know, you love books, the more the merrier, right? But if your intention is to sell books, and you buy as many as you sell, you’re not really making progress.
By all means, buy a book if you’re interested in that book. But not because someone bought YOUR book.
Money can be an issue when it comes to conferences, as well as travel expenses. This is something only you can decide, for yourself. Some conferences will cost around $40, some edging close to $200. Think about value for your money, such as how long the conference lasts, who is speaking, who’s attending, and distance.
And then decide how it affects your career.
Conferences aren’t going to hurt your writing career, and they can be very, very beneficial—just don’t become a conference junkie. You need to spend your time on the things that move your career forward, and that’s a business decision that only you can make for yourself.