I have attended a lot of writers conferences of all sizes and focuses and after 20+ years of doing this, I had decided it was time to retire from the conference circuit. And then I attended the Alaska Writers Conference and they did everything right and I fell in love with conferences again.
- Alaska Writers emphasized learning and connecting. In fact, I didn’t have any pitches! I did have 15 critiques for the conference, but those gave me time to sit with authors and hopefully send them home with real knowledge and information and not just a business card.
- Agents and editors had time to explore. Conference coordinators took time out of their own schedules to show us a state they are clearly very proud of us. Collectively we visited glaciers, saw bears, watched beluga whales and were awestruck by this stunning place. Let’s face it when we travel to conferences part of the appeal is seeing a place we’ve never seen before. Alaska Writers know that.
- This group was warm, welcoming and friendly. So, so friendly! Never once was I left standing in a corner feeling isolated from the cliques surrounding me (yes, this happens all the time). This group couldn’t wait to chat and share stories and tell me about a world I’ve never imagined. Thank you to all of those who allowed me to pepper them with questions about what its like to live in the Alaska wilderness where your closest neighbor is a two-mile walk.
- We left the hotel. You have no idea how many cities I’ve been to where I’ve never left the hotel. Not in Alaska. We had a fantastic event at a really cool Indie Bookstore, we ate fresh salmon at restaurants, and visited a cider distillery (yum!!). All while talking business. And with each new venue, I had new energy to talk to new people. So much better than hotel air.
- Downtime. We might have worked 8-hour days, but there was a lot of time to run to the bathroom, wash a face, or just sit and talk. No one expected to fill our days from 9-9. That meant that each workshop I presented and each one-on-one I had came with energy and a smile and not exhaustion.
Agents and editors are the forgotten when it comes to writers conferences and I get it, we aren’t your paying attendees. In fact, we cost you money, but by forgetting the agents and editors you forget to support the very people your attendees are often coming to see. I was tired when I left Alaska, but I wasn’t burnt out. In fact, I was inspired and excited to get back to the office and find a way to work with these amazing people who had done so much to make my working trip a whole lot of fun.