Since this post is happening as I’m in Barcelona for a writing retreat, I figured I’d put together an on-topic post.

There likely won’t be a business post next week, but will have more coming after that I think. As always, I’ll write them when I come across a topic worth talking about.

So I’m going to break things up based off how I view all these things and post about them based off how I see it, with pros and cons. These are personal categories, useful or not depending on your own needs.

Author Conferences

There are a wide variety of author conferences – from the traditional ones based off associations (NINC, the Nebula Conference via SFWA, etc.) and the independent organisations (like 20booksto50k or Superstars). 

I haven’t been to many so I won’t say which are best, though I will say that some are more indie author focused and others are trad pub focused. For example, NINC and 20booksto50k conferences are indie focused, the Nebulas is very much tradpub and things like the Romance Writers Association and Superstars are somewhere in-between.

Trad pub conferences focus more on craft workshops while indie author conferences generally focus on the business side – things like pricing, promotions, brand engagement, productivity, etc.

, the % dependent upon the conference. If you’ve


  • networking. Probably the biggest, especially in-genre networking; though networking with successful authors at your level or slightly above can bring significant advantages in terms of support and knowledge.
  • seminars (depending on your level)


  • the vast variety of seminars and workshops held at such conferences are generally oriented to beginners
  • topics and discussions often repeat as many such topics / lessons do not vary much

Fan Conferences

I’m rolling any type of fan majority conference in here. This includes things like WorldCon and World Fantasy Conventions to FanExpos and ComicCons and Dragoncon. Of course, certain conventions like WorldCon and World Fantasy Con have a much higher % of authors (trad pub in many cases!) than others; but the focus is meant to be fans.

So the seminars are more ‘fan’ oriented, with talks on history, cultures, food, how aspects of such work influence your writing, etc. These cons also vary in size from a few hundred to tens of thousands.

If you want to, you can even make this a $ making adventure, where booths can be purchased and your books sold direct to fans. 


  • direct fan representation and interaction. You get to put yourself in front of existing and  new fans
  • brand development
  • some networking with other authors and agents (potentially)


  • expensive. These conventions can last 3-4 days (sometimes 5!) and hotels and flights are required for all of them. They also book out fast. Yes, business conventions do the same, but grants and the like can help allay expenses, and they’re often shorter lived.
  • representation on panels varies. You often don’t know what kind of panels you’ll be added to until a few months away, and sometimes those panels are on topics you only have a bare minimum of knowledge
  • extremely tiring. Business cons are generally run and organised by other writers (read, introverts). Everyone is used to introverts.

Fan conventions are often larger, have a much wider variety of people and you are ‘on’ trying to impress them in ways you don’t other writers.

  • targeting of fans can be… tricky.

Writing / Craft Workshops

Not going to discuss these much, but such events do happen, as either an add-on to existing conferences or as separate locations.

Not doing a Pro or Con since I haven’t done many, but the biggest concern of these is making sure those running the workshop not only are good teachers but also have the credentials to back things up.

Shysters abound….

Writer Retreats

Again, not much to write in terms here for pros & cons since I understand how these are run vary a lot depending on the organisers and I’ve only been to one myself.

However, the general idea are a bunch of authors run off together into a location and do a bunch of writing and/or networking and/or holiday and research.

From my personal experience, what you get out of them depends on the individuals involved and what you expect / need from it. Try to clarify beforehand before you arrive or go in with an open mind. 

Anyway… I’d love to hear about other people’s thoughts. As I said, I haven’t done much in terms of formal workshops or retreats, so I’m curious to see what people have to say.

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