It seems like RWA Nationals just ended, and yet announcements for regional conferences are popping up everywhere. With so many choices, I had to stop and ask myself why I go to conferences, what I hoped to get out of them, and what makes one conference better than another.
I should probably start with a disclaimer and admit that I'm not a regular conference-goer. I've only been to two: RWA Nationals in Orlando and Emerald City Writer's Conference in Seattle. Both times I decided to go to the conference because I'd finaled in a contest, and both times the big thrill came from meeting online writer friends in person.
This year, I thought I would purposely choose a conference instead of merely tagging along wherever my chapter sisters took me. As a first step, I asked my fellow writers why they went to conferences. Here are some of their responses:
- To make a personal connection with writers, agents, and editors
- To hear what different publishers are looking for
- To promote a novel
- To discover the latest trends and industry news
- To hear speakers or workshops that aren't available online
- To learn new ways to write, organize, or self-promote
- To be inspired by published authors
Equally important are the logistics. Is the conference near your home, or some place you've always dreamed of visiting? Will you know anyone there to keep you company and share expenses? Does it come highly recommended by people you trust?
Although I've only been to RWA conferences, I'm also intrigued by conferences for other genres, such as Thrillerfest, and conventions which focus on the reader, like RomCon.
Perhaps most tempting of all are conferences offered on cruises or in unique locations like the Matera Writer's Conference in Matera, Italy or the Maui Writers Conference in Hawaii.
With so many excellent choices, it's no surprise that I can't make up my mind. I would love to hear your conference recommendations.
What do you look for in choosing a conference? Is there one you return to year after year? Why? What makes it stand out above all the others?