Benefits Of A Writing Conference For Writers

Attending a writing conference is a great way to meet other authors, share your work, learn about trends, and network with editors.

Those who are interested in writing for fun or profit may reap special benefits from attending a writing conference. Held locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally, writing conferences provide a forum for bringing together beginning, intermediate, and advanced writer to share and discuss their work. Moreover, keynote speakers, session presenters, and on-site editors offer additional resources for learning how to develop and market many types of writing.

If you are thinking about registering for a writing conference, consider the following guidelines to make the most of this unique opportunity:

1. Don't miss out on the keynote address. Many if not most conferences open with a keynote speaker, someone who is well known in the field and can comment on trends of the topic. The person often knows a great deal about the history, development, or future directions of writing, and can provide useful information during the presentation or afterward in a one-to-one conversation. If specific questions form during the speech or later, you may be able to follow up with an email or telephone contact.

2. Attend as many sessions as possible. Get your money's worth by going to the meetings that will mostly likely help your writing style. Topics from getting started to reprising reprints can aid you in making the most of your past, present, and future work. When you register before the conference, a program of events may be sent to you beforehand or you might have to wait and pick it up when you arrive on opening day. Take time to skim through it and pick the sessions you most want to attend. If there are two scheduled at the same time, ask the other presenter or someone you know who's attending the session for copies of handouts. Take notes, ask questions, and chat with the presenter afterward for additional information.

3. Become acquainted with others. Take advantage of nametags, breaks, and meal times to get to know other writers. Like you, everyone is there to learn new and exciting things, all of which starts with meeting new people. Introduce yourself, look for familiar names or locations on nametags, and ask questions to involve others in discussion:

"Is this your first writing conference?"

"Did you attend the poetry writing session?"

"I see you're from Omaha. Is there a writing group in your area?"

You may be able to network and learn from other attendees' experience, or perhaps start an online writing group.

4. Meet the editors. Often, the editors of leading publications or book publishing companies may be on hand as part of a panel session designed to answer questions or offer individualized perspectives. For example, there may be editorial views on nspirational writing, sports writing, or fiction writing, among others. Hearing what the companies are looking for and learning how to submit your work can be tremendously enlightening and save you hours of research and preparation time when you're ready to submit a manuscript. In addition, at some writing conferences you can schedule a ten- or fifteen-minute meeting slot to discuss any pieces of writing that you are working on or are ready to submit for review.

5. Take clean, neatly typed manuscripts for reference if the editor or another attendee asks to see them. Some authors place writing samples, such as poems, short stories, or articles, in transparent sleeves to keep the pages from getting smudged or torn. If you have several, arrange them in a three-ring binder with tabs that are marked with the titles of the work or each genre category that is represented. You should also include a vita and a short, professional biography in case someone wants to know more. Take business cards to pass out if you have them.

Attending a writing conference is a terrific way to broaden your range of contacts, meet likeminded authors, and learn more about the craft of writing. Find out about conferences that will be held in your area, and register for one that seems likely to meet your needs.

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