Conferences and Conventions

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Conferences and Conventions

Postby Watcher55 » 28 May 2011, 00:41

I've never been to a writers' conference, but I've been entertaining the possibility. I was talking to my nephew, who was active in the LA music Business (manager) and we were comparing the paths to publication. I asked him if the business had the equivalent of writers' conferences. He told me he had only been to one because it was a waste of time. Out of all the producers in attendance at any given conference there might be two that fit his band's needs. The problem was, there is usually about 98 people (hyperbole, I'm sure, but...) who need to talk to those two.

Now, I'm guessing that this is where the "elevator" and 90 second pitches come in handy, but can this/does this happen at writers' conferences? If it does at some and not at others, what should I look for before I sign up?
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby cheekychook » 30 May 2011, 17:18

Most writers' conferences offer multiple opportunities to talk with agents. When researching conferences you will likely find several variations of agent-meeting sessions.

1. The Meet and Greet---lots of conferences start with an opening session or have lunch or dinner sessions where the agents walk amongst the rest of us. :) Some even have special tables you can request to sit at for lunch (for a premium price) where an agent or two will be at the table. These are opportunities to mingle with agents and talk to them. Generally one would start up a normal conversation and likely the agent will be the one to ask "So what are you working on?"---that's your cue to say something intriguing about your book.

2. The Pitch-a-palooza---there are several forms of this speed-dating style event. Basically it will involve a roomful of agents at tables and about 10 times more authors lined up to talk to them in 90-second intervals with a bell ringing to indicate time's up. Here you definitely need a well-rehearsed pitch. (You can check out my experience at a pitch session like this by reading the post on my blog regarding the Writer's Digest Conference I attended in January.)

3. The Agent Session---many conferences off a pre-arranged 1-1 session with an agent. Generally you register for these sessions when you register for the conference. They range from 10-20 minutes, depending on the conference, and often include/require that you send in 10-20 pages of your manuscript for the agent to have read prior to your meeting. This is a critique/pitch session and will obviously (hopefully) yield a critique and more in-depth convo than the aforementioned speed-dating-pitch-session.

Some conferences offer a combination of these. Best thing to do is read up on the conferences you're considering and decide which style of agent meeting sounds best suited to your needs and personality. As conference time approaches I recommend going on Twitter and looking for hashtags regarding the conference. It's a good way to find/meet others who are attending, talk to past attendees, and often get a preview of what some of the presenters are going to speak about/do in their sessions.

Good luck finding a conference!
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Watcher55 » 30 May 2011, 19:35

Thanks Cheeky, I guess things are a little different than the music biz equivelant, and it's good to know what kind of prep work I need to do first. :)
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Mira » 31 May 2011, 13:14

I think Cheeky really gave you good information.

You can also do some research on-line - lots and lots of people talk about their experiences at writer's conferences.

Also, I think Nathan has several posts about them. You could check his handy blog directory and see what you can find.

If you decide to go, I hope you have fun!
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 08:38

You might also consider workshops taught by professional writers, agents, and editors. You know how some agents say they only take clients on referral? This is how I got referrals.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Guardian » 01 Jun 2011, 09:00

Watcher55 wrote: I was talking to my nephew, who was active in the LA music Business (manager) and we were comparing the paths to publication. I asked him if the business had the equivalent of writers' conferences. He told me he had only been to one because it was a waste of time.

I have to agree with him. Back in 2004 I was invited as a guest for a 4 days long conference and workshop. While we had a pretty good time in London and everything was really interesting, actually it had no true value. At the workshop we learned what we already knew before. At the conference we met with other writers, agents, etc, etc... which is pretty exciting... if you're new in the business. Otherwise, it's just a simple non-formal business meeting, where everyone is presenting their good side... something what you presumably won't see and experience in true business. People used to be friendly, you can chit chat with them about many things, you can learn how they see things, you can get dozens of business cards (What you're never going to use in the future as people leave, they usually forget people that with they met there.). So it's fun... if you want to explore the city where these conventions and conferences are. Otherwise, in most cases, but not all, it's a waste of time. Why? Because half of the group is newbie, the other 45% are out of business or rookie agents and writers (One time miracles and non-published ones) and the rest 5% are split between some top gun and the invited guests. Of course, you may hear, it's pretty useful as that's what advertisements are for. But other then I discovered London, and I spent some good time with a French Lady and some fellow writer while we discovered the city, the pubs, the conference and the workshop itself couldn't offer anything new. But for new writers, it can be enchanting.

Good conferences and workshops are very-very rare.

You might also consider workshops taught by professional writers, agents, and editors.

If someone is really professional and is still in the business, that one is usually working instead of doing workshops. It's very rare if the writer, agent and / or editor is still in the business and making workshops. Usually people out of work are doing workshops. i.e.: out of dozens of my friends I know only one who is used to do workshops and he is Bobby Roth, the director of Lost, V and few other series. He is doing it, because he love to teach young ones in his free time between two series. But this is very-very-very rare where the workshop maker is still in the business. If a writer, an agent or editor is doing a workshop, especially regular ones, in most cases those people are vanished already from the business or out of work. There are exceptions, but it's very rare.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 09:12

Guardian wrote:If someone is really professional and is still in the business, that one is usually working instead of doing workshops. It's very rare if the writer, agent and / or editor is still in the business and making workshops.


Not true, unless you want to suggest Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, Steven Gould, Nalo Hopkinson, Susan Wiggs, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden aren't "still in the business". And those are just the 'rare exceptions' I can come up with without trying.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Guardian » 01 Jun 2011, 09:15

Not true, unless you want to suggest Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, Steven Gould, Nalo Hopkinson, Susan Wiggs, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden aren't "still in the business"

No. As you said, they're the very rare exceptions. :) But let's face it. Dozens of failed writers, editors, agents who published or sold at least one work are advertising themselves as true "professionals" who have a workshop. I'm speaking about this scenario. There is a phrase in the 21st century: if you fail in your profession, you always have a chance to teach that profession.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 09:17

Guardian wrote:No. They're the, as you said, the rare exceptions. :)


Ok, now you've woken me up. I shall have to find time today to compile a more thorough list. Bonnie Hearn Hill is another who comes to mind. Will add more later.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Guardian » 01 Jun 2011, 09:19

:D I edited in the meantime where I explain the scenario that about I speak.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 09:19

Guardian wrote:But let's face it. Dozens of failed writers, editors, agents who published or sold at least one work are advertising themselves as true "professionals" who have a workshop.


The fact that there are plenty of wannabe's doing conferences is completely separate from the fact that plenty of real, gifted professionals do these things regularly (once or twice a year...even more) as a way of paying it forward.

Writers need to be adult enough to research the instructors before a workshop.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 09:21

Guardian wrote::D I edited in the meantime where I explain the scenario that about I speak.


It's alllways been a saying that those who can do and those who can't teach...but that doesn't address those who can AND teach.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Guardian » 01 Jun 2011, 09:22

Margo wrote:
Guardian wrote:But let's face it. Dozens of failed writers, editors, agents who published or sold at least one work are advertising themselves as true "professionals" who have a workshop.


The fact that there are plenty of wannabe's doing conferences is completely separate from the fact that plenty of real, gifted professionals do these things regularly (once or twice a year...even more) as a way of paying it forward.

That's what I'm talking about. :) But new writers doesn't know this. That's the problem. This is why most of conferences and conventions are doing more harm than good.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Margo » 01 Jun 2011, 09:24

Guardian wrote:But new writers doesn't know this. That's the problem. This is why most of the conferences an conventions are doing more harm than good.


Another saying: A fool and his money are soon parted.

If someone can find info about a workshop online (I can think of two of these that you have to register for online...only way to do it) but can't google the instructors...the instructors aren't the biggest problem.
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Re: Conferences and Conventions

Postby Guardian » 01 Jun 2011, 09:33

Margo wrote:Another saying: A fool and his money are soon parted.

Good saying and so true.

Margo wrote:If someone can find info about a workshop online (I can think of two of these that you have to register for online...only way to do it) but can't google the instructors...the instructors aren't the biggest problem.

Google can't solve everything. i.e.: I have plenty of credits and you can find only few of them on the net, while I can prove their existence anytime. This is the reason why I used only half of my real credits in queries because if agent's can't find it somewhere on Google, they're immediately turning things down (And I can't add direct links to query, because some moron is refusing to open them.). And sometimes you can experience the opposite too. You can find everything about the instructor on the Google... just half of it is not true at all. So from my own experience I can tell you, Looking after someone via Google can't solve this problem at all.
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