What You Can Learn at a Writer’s Conference

On Saturday I attended the Michigan Writing Workshop outside of Detroit. I’m here to share my experience with you today. The event was peopled with agents and Chuck Sambuchino, author and former editor for Writer’s Digest. It was an opportunity to learn about craft and publishing and to pitch to agents.

Needless to say this was a great opportunity and step forward in anyone’s writing career. Whether you’re a beginner writer who can learn a great deal about craft from agents and speakers in the event, or a more advanced writer looking to get an agent or get published, any writer can benefit from a good writer’s conference. They didn’t just have classes on craft, from how to write a great mystery or YA story to how to revise, but they also had classes on self-publishing, what you need to know about agents, and how to build your platform. Obviously, every conference will offer different classes, but will usually provide talks on both how to improve your writing and how to get published. If you are a novice writer, focus on learning the craft of writing. What’s the point of publishing a story that isn’t ready yet? Agents only accept the best, so learn how to perfect your story first. Then worry about agents and publishers after.

Pitching is another big part of writing conferences. This is great because you get the time and attention of an agent you’re not guaranteed through anonymous email. You only have ten minutes of their time so your pitch has to be concise as well as intriguing. I talk about pitching here. It is vital you research the agents before you sign up for your pitching sessions. And agents appreciate the research. I prefaced my pitches by saying why I wanted to pitch with them specifically and explained why they would be interested in my story based on what they had said they look for in a story in their bios and online. It definitely got their interest in my story. I pitched to 4 agents and got 3 partial requests for my manuscript. One lesson about pitching that Chuck said that stuck with me was that pitching offers have no expiration date. Yes, if you wait too long, the agent will probably forget talking to you specifically, but they will definitely say no to a manuscript that isn’t ready. Get your work perfected, then query. Just make sure to mention you met them and where.

Conferences are a great opportunity, both towards getting published and as a learning opportunity. Plus it’s a chance to network with other writers. I definitely recommend going to one yourself. Read how to prepare for your first conference here. What are your experiences with conferences? Share below and happy pitching!

Julia

Follow my blog at Our Write Side and Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly prompts.

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