This is an ongoing series designed to give writers guidelines on where & when to spend your money.
If you missed the first three posts in the series you can find them here:
- Part Two: Which Books Should I Own and Which Should I get at the Library—and What About Magazines, are They Still Relevant?
Writing Conferences—When Am I Ready for One & Which One Should I choose
I have my favorites, of course! But just because they’re my favorites doesn’t mean they are the best choice for YOU. I’ve tried to break it all down and give you some things to consider so you can make an informed decision.
The first thing you should consider is your experience level. You need to look at where you are with your writing, that will be the biggest factor in your decision. As you look at the categories realize that your experience may overlap.
- Never submitted anything for publication.
- Hasn’t told many people he writes.
- Has submitted a couple of things, but nothing published.
- Has several rejection letters and a couple of acceptances.
- Is a member of a local or online writing group.
- Regularly reads articles or books about writing.
- Has attended a writers event (either a workshop, conference or online class).
- Has an idea of where he wants to go with his writing.
- Has been paid for his writing.
- Spends time each day working at the craft of writing and has an income derived from writing.
- Has definite goals and aspirations for his writing.
Once you know which group you fall into, it’s easier to evaluate each individual event. There are 2 reasons to attend a writers event.
- To learn more about the craft of writing .
- To network with professionals within the writing world .
Here’s a general breakdown of what is usually offered at each kind of event.
These events vary slightly, so the following information is generalized. You should read all brochures and websites carefully to know what to expect.
Large, National Writing Conference
Expect lots of classes for a wide variety of writers - from beginner to advanced.
- Continuing Classes – these are classes that last for more than one class period and concentrate on one subject. Even though they are continuing, they rarely provide advanced information on a given subject.
- Workshops – these are classes that give an introduction to a concept (like dialogue, plot or setting).
- Breakouts or Panels – these are groups of professionals giving instruction on a given subject. The information here is usually very basic.
- Appointments with Faculty – most large conferences include a private appointment with a member of the faculty. This is where you would pitch a book or article idea to an editor. It can also be valuable to let a seasoned author look at your writing and give one-on-one feedback.
Regional or Local Writing Conference
These tend to have more classes for the beginner and advanced beginner writer, although there are exceptions. Depending on the length of time, the conference will follow the same basic setup as a national conference.
Workshop or Seminar
Many of these are very specific in what they offer. They aren’t for a large number of writers and generally target the intermediate or advanced writer.
The important thing to remember is that it’s never a good idea to write in a vacuum. I have always tried to attend one large conference a year—as a student—to expose myself to the writing industry, both for networking and education. I also try to attend at least one focused workshop or seminar each year I and I try to keep my eyes open for online writing courses and take at least two a year.
Let's share our experiences with specific conferences and events. Leave comments about ones you've attended and how they've helped your writing journey.
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.