Dear Literary Agent,
I live in southern California and have noticed that there are several writing conferences that are held throughout the state each year. I have been looking into attending some of the events, but sometimes the registration fees are a bit expensive.
Is it worth it for me to go to conferences like these? What would the main benefits be? Do you think I could definitely find an agent at one?
A Writer without a Conference
Dear Writer without a Conference,
This is a great question. I speak at writers conferences all over the country, and I enjoy doing it quite a bit. So let me begin by telling you why I attend conferences:
- I enjoy meeting writers. So much of my job is done via email and telephone, with very little face-to-face interaction. I enjoy putting a face to a name and talking to authors in person. Whether or not it is a project I will represent, I enjoy giving advice and helping writers work on their pitches, figure out their next steps, etc.
- I get to chat with colleagues. Again, so much of the business is done via email that I don’t get to see other agents or editors as often as I would like to.
- I love sitting in on workshops and classes. I often present at these conferences, but I also love hearing what other folks have to say. At the last conference, I learned so many Twitter tricks from another agent speaking about social media!
- I love meeting potential clients!
Why shouldn’t you go? Going to a writers conference doesn’t guarantee you a book deal. You run the risk of hearing the same thing you have been hearing for years and know all ready – make sure your characters are well-rounded, make sure you spell check your work, make sure you build your platform.
Why should you go? Because it’s a lot of fun. Also:
- It will be beneficial for you to meet other writers, even ones who are writing in different genres. You can network and share advice. You can laugh over (or cry over) horror stories. You can encourage one another.
- You are frequently given opportunities to pitch agents and editors, or have them do an advance critique of your work. Even if you do not “get a deal,” you will still receive valuable feedback.
- You will likely have a delicious buffet of courses and workshops to attend. Maybe you want to work on your dialogue skills. Maybe you need some help putting your elevator pitch together. The instructors are folks who are motivated to help you – not out of the kindness of their hearts, necessarily, but because they hope you will be an author they can work with someday.
- You may just get that life-changing deal!
All the best to you on your writing journey – we hope to meet you at a conference one of these days!
Megan Close Zavala and the Team at Keller Media
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