Monday, December 5, 2011

Reality Check II: Do Your Research

In my last blog, I talked about the financial costs of conferences, which may lead to a follow up question: 

How the heck do we find conferences in the first place??

First, you need to figure out what you're looking for out of conferences.
*Finding new places to submit to?

I've found that there are conferences that are specific to what genre you're writing in, so that's kind of a jumping point. My sister is the one who got me into AWP. Before that, I didn't even know about writing conferences.

Some conferences actually give you time slots to meet with agents. This one was PNWA.

~I found out about PNWA through Vickie Motter's blog. For those of you not familiar with her, she's an agent who is on twitter and keeps an advice/review blog. On her blog, she posts the conferences she'll be attending which is helpful to writers like me who hope to meet her, and pitch to her.

~I found out about LeakyCon's Lit Day from Jennifer Laughran's blog.

Moral of the story is: find the agents you're interested in. Follow them; their blogs, their twitter accounts. They will usually say something about upcoming conferences, or some, like Ms. Motter, will have where she'll be for the next year. It's an easy way to find out about conferences you wouldn't have otherwise known about. (From there you can decide which ones are feasible, and which ones are out of the question.)

The coolest thing about conferences is that writing is infectious. Literally, I'll be sitting in a panel and have a million new thoughts to write about. The backs of my notebooks are FILLED with random stuff to start; poems, stories, ways to edit existing stuff. And then when there's a break, hit the bookshop to find other authors and literary magazines. It's a great place to talk to editors, authors, etc.

Kinda blurry, sorry. This is Kerry Cohen speaking. She's amazing.

Beyond that, TALK TO EVERYONE. Literally, every chance you get, introduce yourself. Sit next to people. Become the social butterfly you've always wanted to be. You don't know who you'll bump into. Seriously, from one of my conferences, I met a woman who offered to house me for a night because I'd been driving an hour each morning to the conference, and an hour each evening. She and I will be roommates at this year's AWP. At the same conference, I also met another person who housed me in Florida during Lit Day.

So, make a good impression and if you're serious about the game:

Everyone will ask, "What's your novel about."
Make sure you have an answer.


  1. Hey Lynn(e),
    Whenever I run across conferences, I think they look fantastic! So far, I've only been to our local one, but some of them (the ones that are usually a ton of hours away and way out of my price range lol!) look so good I'd love to just get up and go. I love listening to people talk about writing--genres, how to write characters, books they wrote. I used to love lit in school for just that reason! I hope to get out to another one sometime. Even though I'm kinda introverted, they sound like so much fun!
    Ninja Girl

  2. Nice post and blog.



  3. I like that: Make sure you have an answer.

    I'm one of those people who writes way better than I talk. So when people ask me that question, I have a hard time not using the phrases, bad dude, good guy, stubborn chick...etc.

    I've got my work cut out for me, lol.

  4. Yay, thanks for the great info. I'm off to follow your links.


Please know that if you comment and I don't respond, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't have wifi, but I do have a bad memory.

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