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Remember my friend, Karen, that we talked about yesterday? The second piece of advice that Karen gave me besides “write a blog” was to “attend a writer’s conference.” The truth is, once I went to my first conference, I was hooked. If you want me to be your agent, you should go to a writer’s conference and meet me in person. If you don’t want me to be your agent, you should go to a writer’s conference and meet the agent of your dreams in person. And if you aren’t ready for an agent, you should go to a writer’s conference anyway so you can improve as a writer and learn the industry. A writer’s conference will add much-needed value to your writing career. Here are a few reasons why these conferences are a must.

Networking. When an agent submits a proposal to publishers on your behalf, one of the places that matters most—other than your book idea and writing strength—is the marketing section of your proposal. Within that marketing section, the listed endorsements from other authors are really important to your author platform. Debut authors need other established authors to tell their fans something like this, “Have you read this book by my pal Jessie? If not, you totally should. And did you know that she has triplets? And loves cupcakes? Squeal.” You get the point. When an author leverages their social media platform and fan base on behalf of your work, this helps publishers sell more books.

However, securing endorsements can be a source of high stress for debut authors. Asking for endorsements can feel awkward, especially if you ask a complete stranger for one. The resolution? Go befriend an author at a conference. Conferences are the absolute best place, and sometimes the only place other than online social media, to meet, befriend, and network with other authors. If you want another author to help you promote your book, then you should meet them in person. I can tell you from experience that I will not attach my name to any book for anybody that I have not met face-to-face. And the best place to meet an author is at a writer’s conference.

Marketing & Craft Classes. It’s possible that you’ve never been to a writer’s conference and you’re wondering what they are all about, so here we go. Usually a writer’s conference is a 3-4 day conference with a schedule filled with marketing, craft, and often inspirational keynotes from successful industry leaders. You also get a chance to pitch your book ideas to agents and editors in hopes that they will sign you and want to buy your idea. These appointments are usually 15-minutes long. A quality writer’s conference will have a variety of hands-on craft classes for you to attend. These classes are usually taught by best-selling authors and editors. Personally, I tend to work on my craft at home, using workbooks and other writing resources, and use conferences to learn marketing. Let’s face it; social media changes daily, and social media is a crucial part of book marketing. I love marketing, but no matter how much I research and try to stay ahead of the game, I have to keep taking quality classes to keep up with what strategies drive book sales. Marketing a book in this noisy and crowded world is unique. To get noticed with a published book you need a unique book idea, a unique writing voice/style, and you need a sound marketing plan. All of these things you will learn at a writer’s conference. So when you go, take as many notes as you can.

Manuscript Critiques. One of the bonuses offered to writer’s at some conferences I have attended in the past are manuscript critiques. Sometimes a conference will offer editors, agents, and other established authors the opportunity to make a little extra side money. They might say, “Will you critique manuscripts for potential authors, and how many critiques are you willing to do?” The last time I did critiques at a conference I gave feedback on: 2 blogs, 2 Young Adult manuscripts, and 3 non-fiction proposals. I gave the conference director a cut off date to tell those who were interested in working with me on a critique, and then they sent their payment directly to me, and I did their critique. Usually a manuscript critique is done on 1-2 sample chapters of a writer’s work. This is a great way to get professional feedback on your writing. Once we are finished with your critique, we print a copy and review it together in a 1-on-1 appointment sometime during the conference. Every conference is different in the way they organize this critique system, but for the most part, manuscript critiques are a common part of every writers conference. I highly recommend that you take advantage of these types of opportunities to improve your craft, which in turn will improve your chances at snagging an agent and getting a book deal.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

 

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