The value of the writers conference

Truth be told, I hadn’t been to a writers conference in years.  I am often asked, but I usually suggest that our other agents should attend in my place.  I remember years ago at a conference in Seattle, one of the other (inexperienced) agents asking me why I was there – suggesting that because I had a full client roster I shouldn’t be looking for new ones when neophyte agents needed the exposure.

But when I was invited to attend last weekend’s ANWA Writers Conference, I remembered how much I could get out of the experience.

Of course, we agents all like to think that our presence at these meetings provides useful information to the participants.  And there is always the possibility that one of the attending writers might even find representation for their work.

But I found that I, too, came away with so much from the experience:

First, I got away from my office and that always gives me perspective.

Second, I met some really wonderful and interesting people:  a lawyer who traveled to numerous third world countries to represent clients; a woman who is a men’s athletic coach; a “story teller” (she was amazing — I didn’t know that there are professional story tellers — people who attend events and, as a kind of performance, tell stories).

Third, I learned about what other agents not in New York are thinking and how they do business and about some smaller publishers on the West Coast.

And finally, I am very hopeful that as a result of my being there, and talking with so many people, I will find some exciting new material.  Over the years I have indeed found some wonderful new clients at these events and, as a curious person, I am always looking.

I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to share my years of experience with others; I enjoy public speaking and I enjoy talking one on one about book ideas.  So, hopefully I will not absentmindedly pass along future invitations to conferences when I feel I can both make an important contribution and benefit from participating.

I would love to hear what your writers conference experiences have been like.

11 Responses to The value of the writers conference

  1. Joelle says:

    I’ve never been to a big conference for lack of funding on my part. The one time I had the money, I paid for the Surrey conference and then couldn’t attend for personal reasons and lost my money, so I just can’t seem to work up the excitement for them. However, I have done Darcy Pattison’s Novel Revision weekend and that was amazing.

    Anyway, the reason I’m commenting is to tell you more about storytelling. I am just starting to expand into that area. As an actress and writer, it just seemed fitting to try it and I recently performed a series of stories about women in baseball which I wrote. I got to do them at Canada’s second largest spoken word festival for a fantastic audience. I really loved it and plan to do more. If you have the opportunity to hear Ivan Coyote tell stories (based in Vancouver, but travels to the US a lot), don’t miss it. You can also buy a CD of her stories called Missed Her, which are AMAZING. http://ivanecoyote.com/ Her novel BOW GRIP is one of my favourites too.

  2. I haven’t been to a writer’s conference in sometime myself, and in the past, it’s only been for a day at a time. I’d really like to hit one sometime in the next year or so just to soak up all the knowledge floating around.

    I’m glad you got a lot out of it as an agent, too. Many agents focus on meeting with clients and prospective writers and sometimes being on a panel when they discuss their time at conferences, and it very rarely seems that they gain any benefit as agents from it.

  3. Jane, your presence at our ANWA conference gave power to the creative atmosphere of writers there. Thank you for being a boon to the writing community!

  4. What a pleasure it was to meet you at the ANWA conference! Thank you for all you do!

  5. Jane, you were truly an inspiration to all of us at the conference and so gracious to everyone there. It was a pleasure to meet you.

  6. Hello Jane! What a treat to read your post this morning as I’m preparing my work to send to you. I, too, was grateful I attended the ANWA conference. From how to write a better story, to how to query, pitch, find an agent, and get my book published, to how to get going with a social media platform–there was a wealth of knowledge to be gleamed. I was inspired by the variety of people I met (including you) and hearing their stories of how they do what they do. I especially appreciated the panel discussion; hearing a variety of perspectives side by side was enlightening to me. I feel as you do, Jane, as I look forward to attending more conferences like this one, and I especially look forward to connecting with you again very soon!

  7. It would probably sound really self-serving to tell you how glad I am that you came to the ANWA conference, but even if you didn’t offer to represent me, I would still be glad that I got to meet you. I learned a lot from your class, and your assurance that the historical romance market is coming back around really encouraged me. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for attending the conference!

  8. Jane, How gracious of you to mention the ANWA Conference in such a positive and reciprocal light! I know that your class and our meeting was the highlight of my first writer’s conference. (The whole experience has prompted me to register for another conference in May.) Breaking out of the writer’s isolation booth is so refreshing on so many levels!

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