November 07, 2009
A conference is a good tuneup
I'm headed for the mountains!
I'm getting ready to go to a ghost ranch up above Santa Fe for a writing conference. Actually it's in Abiquiu, NM and it is the conference that used to be at Glorieta. They seem to think my western attire is going to be right at home there. I'm looking forward to it. I love this conference, and the one Marlene Bagnull puts on up at Estes Park and have gone to both for many years. Marlene's is in May and helps me get my head straight for the busy summer and this conference helps me get grounded again and to prepare for the holiday season and then to get a good start on the new year.
Following this conference I have time to come home for a couple of days. Repack with clean clothes, then head for Kansas City for the Heart of America conference. This conference is a whirlwind of activity, offering more content in a couple of days than some weeklong conferences I have attended. Put on my friend and client Mark Littleton and his wife Jeanette, talented writers both, if it is like it was last year it will be an intense conference experience.
Sure, I go to conferences because that is where I search for writers I want to represent. I also go to meet and reaffirm connections with editor friends I hope to do some business with. I usually do 20-25 conferences and workshops a year. But as in the examples above different conferences offer different things in addition to the writing content that is offered in each of them.
The two mountain conferences offer a relaxing setting and along with the writing content both offer a lot of spiritual reinforcement. Some ten years ago the Glorieta conference (now at the Ghost Ranch) is where I came to terms with what the Lord wanted me to do with my writing for Him. On the other hand the KC setting is in a church, close, with a lot of interface and interaction. I probably learned more there from the attendees than they learned from me.
The Hartline agents have been posting blogs on conferences we attend on the Hartline blog at http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/. Tamela has already done the Philadelphia Conference and the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference and Joyce has done the San Diego Christian Writers Conference. The intention is to profile them until there is a place to go (in our archives) to get inside information on them when you are trying to make a conference decision.
I will do these two after I get back of course and I already have a number scheduled for next year. But is it really important for a writer to go to a conference? Not unless they would really like to get published.
A writing conference allows a writer to get out of their normal activity and immerse themselves in their writing for a short to, to refocus and find direction. It allows them to network and make contacts that are critical in getting published and connections that are vital in building the platform and establishing the buzz needed to sell books if they are published. It gives a chance to develop their craft and polish their skills. Given the number that I attend each year and attended before I became an agent I estimate I've attended close to 200 conferences. Surely I have heard it all by now, right? Wrong, I learn something at every one of them in spite of the fact that I work most of them now instead of getting to attend classes. Plus, this industry is constantly changing and conferences are a good way to help stay up with it.
I hope I'll get a chance to meet you with all of you at a conference soon. Believe me, it is money well spent.