6 Ways To Make The Most Of A Writing Conference

By on January 1, 2016
6 Ways To Make The Most Of A Writing Conference - Writer's Life.org

There are many good reasons why attending a writing conference can be a fantastic experience for different kinds of writers at all different stages in their careers. However going to one is an investment of both time and money and therefore if you find a conference that you would like to attend, it is worth preparing before you go and making sure you are ready to get the most out of it.

Here are 6 great tips to ensure you have the best experience and get the most from a writing conference.

1. Get in the right headspace

Before you head to your writing conference you want to make sure you are in the right mindset. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and don’t build it up too much. Sometimes it is easy to take it all too seriously and make yourself so nervous that you can forget to enjoy yourself, or find it difficult to take anything in. At the same time do think of it as an opportunity - you will meet a whole range of people, and can learn a great deal, so while it is good to relax, don’t become too laid back either.

2. Do some research

It will be easy find out which editors and agents will be attending the conference. Google them. Doing your research to find out what kind of publications they work for, what kind of writers they have worked with before, and which genres of writing they are most interested and experienced in will put you in the know, and then you an make sure you talk to the right people when you arrive. Also proving that you have taken an interest in their work is sure to make a great first impression.

3. Be prepared

If you are attending the conference in the hope that you might have publishers or agents take an interest in your work then make sure your manuscript is in the best shape it can be, that you have hard copies printed out as well as a well written synopsis. Be prepared to talk about your work eloquently. Know how to summarise your plot and make it sound brilliant, think about your target audience and why each publisher or agent would want to work with you. Being confident and clear about your work will give you a much better chance of being considered, and you will come away feeling much more positive about your interactions too.

4. Be professional

Remember a writing conference is a business opportunity. You want to impress, you need to sell yourself, you want to stand out, and to network successfully. Make sure you look the part. You don’t need to channel high-powered business person, but at the same time looking smart and professional generally makes a positive impression. Listen carefully to speakers, make the most of workshops by taking notes and asking insightful questions. Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, regardless of whether you think they can benefit you or not.

5. Manage your own expectations and be yourself

Writing conferences are great places to network, meet potential publishers, make connections and learn new things. However you have to be realistic about what to expect. You are unlikely to walk away with a signed and sealed publishing deal so don’t think that this is going to happen. It is also a good idea to remember that some people might not like or be interested in your work, and that is OK, so prepare yourself for this as well. 

It is also important to be yourself, whatever the circumstances. If you relax, be friendly, interested and open you will come across as genuine and likeable, and that means you are far more likely to come away form the conference feeling as though you had a good time.

6. Set your goals before you go

Make sure you research any conference before you book. The last thing you want is to attend a conference that isn’t really suited to your needs. Look for ones that are highly recommended and consider several different types before you decide. Write down your goals before you go, make sure they are achievable and come up with great strategies as to how you might achieve them.

Whether you are looking to improve your writing, meet like-minded people, gain valuable contacts or talk to potential publishers, writing conference can be extremely useful. By following the above advice you are sure to choose the right one for you, and make the most of your time there.

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