Writing Conferences — Worth the Money?

Every time I’m about to hit the “Send Payment” button for a conference, the same mantra runs through my head. Should I go? Will this really help my writing? Is it worth the money?



First, let me admit that I don’t do a whole lot of conferences. I’m a regular at the Sisters in Crime (SinC) conference in November and the New England chapter of Romance Writers of America (NECRWA) conference in May. Both are in MA, less than an hour’s drive from my house, but I always stay at the hotel. After-hours can be as much fun as the conference.

official photoLast July I also attended the Thrillerfest conference in NYC. For that I had to travel, adding to the cost. I debated whether or not to go, but our own Britt Vasarhelyi persuaded me that it would be a good idea. She was right.

Every conference I attend brings me one step closer to publication. And, each conference has its own unique draw.

The SinC conference which I attended a few weeks ago gives me the chance to meet publishing rules3 SinCsome of my favorite Whodunit authors. I’ve always been a mystery fan. NECRWA, which brings the paranormal element into play, takes care of the dark and ghostie things that creep into my stories. Thrillerfest is simply awesome. The sheer number of famous authors alone would make the trip worthwhile, but they also offer Pitchfest, where fifty or so agents are readily available to hear your pitch.

I have to add here that the venue, New York City, brings the excitement up another notch as well as the cost.

Two of my amigos from my writing group attended the Writers Digest conference last August in NYC. They were impressed with the workshops and the 50-Agent Pitch Slam.

Part of my Group

Part of my Group

Most writing conferences offer at least one opportunity to pitch. I’m hoping the speed pitching is something that will catch on everywhere.

Okay. Pitching your work is always exciting, but what else do these conferences have for authors?

EDUCATION. I can’t say enough about some of the eye-opening workshops that I have attended. Whether you’re writing a stand-alone thriller or a romantic, mystery series, you’ll find helpful information to get to your goal.

What is the latest on e-publishing versus traditional? Should you use special writing software, and if so, what kind? How do you develop a series? How can I better utilize character, setting, and plot? What goes into a bestseller?

You’ll also get tips from successful authors and technical information from professionals i.e., police, lawyers, physicians.

Crimebake 2014NETWORKING WITH YOUR PEERS. Find out how others got their work published and where. Who did their editing? How do they market? Schmooze with people like yourself; pick their brains.

SPEAK INFORMALLY WITH AUTHORS AND AGENTS. You’ll find them roaming around just like regular people. They’re usually happy to answer your questions.

ADVERTISE YOUR WORK. There are tables where you can leave any bookmarks, business cards, etc. Bring enough business cards to hand out to people you meet.

SELL YOUR WORK. I’ve bought books right from the authors at my table.

FUN. Enjoy yourself. Go to the banquet. Have a drink. Experience the food. Don’t forget to laugh and dance.Crimebake dancing

A little BSP. SinC also has a Flashwords contest each year. Write a story in 150 words or less about a crime. I’m proud to say that I’m a winner for the third year in a row!

Check out the conferences in your area. Opportunities abound.

And, remember. Keep writing.





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One thought on “Writing Conferences — Worth the Money?

  1. I enjoyed the post, and am glad that you and Dianne were the ones to introduce me to my first conference. I definitely learned a lot and plan to go to more conferences in the future. It’s such a luxury to put aside my daily routine and think about writing for hours and hours, meet new people, and learn as much as possible!

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