Alright, we talked about the type of writer conferences there are in the previous post. Let’s talk about goals and unexpected results.
Simply put, why are you going to the conference? Some people just go to writer conferences because they miss their friends. If you have the money, there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with that. Being a writer is very lonley at times, and finding other writers who you can speak with and recharge with is important.
Remember, refilling the well is quite valid.
Others go to learn something. For new writers or those in the early stages of their career (indie or trad pub! – and if you’re switching between the two, you’re in the early stages again), there’s a ton to learn. Everything from learning how to write query letters properly to how to set-up a newsletter or optimise them or what you can do with audiobooks, these attendees are well served by attending the various seminars that are the ostensible reason these conferences happen.
As others have mentioned, often conferences can feel like a firehose of information, especially for new attendees and many (yes, even me) spend much of our first conference hitting seminar after seminar.
Nothing wrong with that either, especially if your goal is to learn new things and understand what is going on.
Then, there’s the motivation and minset attendees. I’m splitting them off from those looking to learn a specific skillset or program because these attendees might be going to help adjust their mindset or relocate their earlier motivation. Sometimes, these are just writers in transition and attemting to find themselves once more. I come across these writers occasionally at conferences, and they can come from all levels of the business – newbies to experienced authors recalibrating themselves to a changing environment.
Here, motivation and mindset attendees are not looking for anything specific, but drifting and chatting with people, going to the occcassional mindset or motivational talk (if there are any!). Mostly, they’re here to absorb, because whatever it was they were looking for, wasn’t/isn’t present at home.
Networking attendees are different, in my mind, from those who are there to visit friends or learn something. Just by attending a convention, it’s often easy enough to make friends. In fact, that’s one of the biggest advantages of going to a writer convention – the ability to meet and make like minded individuals.
No, networking attendees are split-off because their entire goal is to make a connection. Now, this can be as simple as finding an agent (or a dozen agents) to introduce yourself to and make a pitch, with the hope that you’ll get representation to making friends with authors more successful than them to pick their brains and/or have them help with your own books.
Networking attendees often have the trickiest path to walk. Everyone is looking for connections for the most part, but no one wants to feel targeted and used. In addition, if not done right, everyone sees networking attendees as nothing more than mercenary individuals which leave… well, not great bits.
So, finding a middle ground is important, where they are networking and finding people; but either doing so appropriately (pitch sessions, paid for dinners, asking questions after a panel if appropriate) or semi-naturally (hey, do you know X person? Let me introduce you to him or ‘Can you introduce me to X?’).
Reaching Fans / Making Sales. Frankly, unless you’re running an author business (i.e. selling services to authors); I REALLY don’t think this should be your goal going to a writer conference (unless it’s a hybrid one, and even then, many of them just aren’t that big for fans) unless you’re looking for those specific people with secondary goals like getting a Hugo or Nebula and thus need those readers in particular.
In most cases, you’d be better off spending the same amount and paying for a booth at a big fan conference and hand selling your books and getting yourself on panels. It’s not that writers aren’t readers, but that this just isn’t the place. At least, in my view.
I’m sure I’m missing others. If you can think of them, let me know. But these are the major ones I see.
Alright, we all go in to these conferences with some specific goals or desires. Or at least, hopefully you have a goal to going to the conference. If you don’t, why the heck are you spending all that money?
So, some unexpected results or benefits from going to writer conferences that can happen:
– friends and/or partners. Yeah, it happens. The first by far, more often. Not to say I haven’t seen the second happen, just, you know, be careful. That shouldn’t be your goal.
– co-authors. Sometimes, you jive with someone well enough, you start a new co-author relationship. I’ve done that a few times, and it can be a ton of fun.
– business relationships. These sometimes take a bit of time, sometimes it requires you to grow successful or more successful before they can be exploited. But I’ve set-up business relationships with others (from consultants working on my ads to PAs/VAs and more) because of the conferences. I’m not looking for them, but they do happen.
I’ve heard of others who have gotten publishing contracts, gotten invited to seminars, etc. because of going to conferences
– and the truly unexpected; which sometimes happens when you’ve got a bunch of smart people talking to one another. Whether it’s a new corporation forming, invitations to anthologies, information on business aspects or world building / informational data, these all can and do happen.
There’s probably more. I’m sure you can (and should) mention some of those below. But with anything, these unexpected benefits are unintentional, they come when they do, so go in with your own goal. Do your best to reach them.
Just be open to meeting others, because you never know what might come about. Or when.
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