I read something recently in which the author said that agents should not give advice on how to find an agent because they don’t know what they are talking about. While I disagree with that, I suppose the same could be said about agents giving advice on conferences. That being said, I’m going to throw out my opinion on writers conferences anyway.
Earlier this month I attended and spoke at the California Crime Writers Conference in not-as-sunny-as-I-would-like-it California. Now, before you dismiss my post because you’re not a crime writer I think you need to know that I was so impressed by this conference that I think anyone who wants to become (or is) a professional writer should read this.
#CCWC was one of the best run conferences I’ve attended in a long time. It was organized beautifully with an impressive staff of volunteers and speakers. Some of the best of the best.
So what is it about #CCWC that made me love it so much? First and foremost was that there were very limited appointments (I had three). I’ve always thought there was too much emphasis on appointments at writers conferences and never understood why a conference would spend the money to pay the expenses of agents and editors only to lock them in a room for a day or two for appointments. I hear often that this is what writers want, but I can tell you right now it’s not what writers need. Ten minutes one-on-one with an agent will not give the writer the same sort of experience as 60 minutes listening to a panel of agents debate the state of the industry, how to write a strong query or what makes a manuscript really tick for them. Think about it, 60 minutes asking questions of four different editors and agents versus 10 minutes of you talking at one editor about your book. The same agent or editor you could simply query because you shook her hand during breakfast or shared a drink during the conference cocktail hour.
#CCWC also broke the conference into different tracks. You had the option (and could switch depending on your mood) to attend marketing, career, or writing panels. They covered topics like the fear of writing, how to write a strong query letter, forensic investigations and marketing strategies. There was definitely something for everyone.
Most importantly though, #CCWC was well-run, extremely well organized, had great speakers, panelists and events that made it fun (move night anyone?). The people were open and friendly and I think everyone who attended felt it was well worth the money they spent.
Check this one out. It only comes around every two years so there’s time to save your money.