You may remember that last month when a friend of mine hoodwinked me into a business planning session (if not, feel free to pause and read it). At the end of the afternoon, I decided that this year, I was going to focus on the business aspect of writing since I’ve neglected that aspect so far. Or, not neglected, but more like I hadn’t put a huge effort into it, trusting in the vagaries of fate for people to “discover” my writing. Heh. As you can see, that hasn’t so far happened in great numbers.
Even before that day, I’d decided that this was the year I would attend at least one writing conference even though that meant a significant output of money on my part. I decided that the Writers Digest Conference was the one that had the best overall mix of business panels and creative panels. Plus it was in NYC, which I’d never been to; I’ve driven through it plenty of times but never stopped to visit.
Thursday was travel day. I got here at the dinner hour and basically collapsed from being up at 3am PDT.
Most of the panels I went to involved ways in how to generate publicity or how to build an author platform. I discovered that the good news was, I’m already halfway there. I was told a few times that I just need to up my game (i.e., marketing budget which so far has been $0. heh.) All the panels had great speakers, though some were more lively than others. The mystery panel in particular was pretty hilarious as all the panelists had known one other for a long time. The YA panel was also very informative as that’s a genre that I’m just now turning my hand and heart to writing. (don’t worry, they’ll still be genre stories ;o))
One thing that a couple of the panelists did was make a distinction between writing and publishing. If you write, you’re a writer. Claim the title regardless of publication status or awards.
And then there was the dreaded networking cocktail “party.” Now, one-on-one, I’m a friendly person. It’s pretty much my default and I’ll strike up a convo with just about anyone, anywhere. In a large group of people, though, I’m a little lost lamb with a hearing problem (blown ear drum, long story). I tend to glom onto one person or small group and stay there all night. I was very proud of myself, though. This time I spoke to panelists and people I didn’t know for nearly an hour. That’s an absolute record! …and then I glommed onto a couple of women I knew for the rest of the night.
The best thing about the conference was meeting other writers at varying stages of their career/writing goals and making new friends. Writing novels is a solitary condition (as opposed to tv writing, which is a group sport) and it’s really hard to write in a vacuum. No matter how passionate or in love with your story/characters you are, at some point you get to the “omfg this all SUCKS” phase and someone needs to talk you off the ledge. Or, I do anyhow.
This conference expanded my circle of friends and gave me much needed knowledge. That, in my book, makes it worth the expense because you really can’t put a price on either of those things. I will definitely be returning next year and highly recommend that all you writers out there attend if at all possible!