Reason One – To Counteract Isolation
Writing, on the whole, is a solitary pursuit and consequently can be very lonely. Everyone should attend at least one writing conference a year to counteract this isolation. This is also why I recommend writer's join writing forums. See: Writers Forums and More about Writer’s Forums.
Reason Two – The Aspiration To Write For Children
Writing conferences and events, such as the SCBWI-BI Writing Day and the Professional Series, are where people who write for children go to meet other people who enjoy writing for children. They draw a wide range of participants from beginners to the most experienced writers, but everyone who attends has a common interest - a link – not only the aspiration to write but the aspiration to write for children. there are other conferences that do not specialise in writing for children but, offer workshops and relevant talks such as the Caerleon Writers Holiday (my personal favourite), the Arvon Foundation and Winchester's Writers Conference.
Reason Three – To Learn From The Professionals
It is an occasion to ask experienced writers how they achieved their success in the hope that you too can travel down this rocky road. At a conference or social writing gathering, you can put aside the pressures of daily life and talk about the craft and business of writing, share your own experiences whilst learning from professionals who know the pitfalls and advantages.
Reason Four – For Inspiration
Other people’s big break may not be your approach, but the inspiration of their success may be the prompt you need. Feed off of their enthusiasm. Just a tiny sentence or story heard at a conference or writing event could trigger a whole range of ideas in your own mind. Who knows? It could be just the encouragement that pushes you in the right direction.
Reason Five – For Indulgence
A writing conference is an opportunity to indulge in your favourite pastime. You can attend informative courses and workshops that inspire you with ideas, start your creative juices flowing whilst keeping up-to-date with current trends and developments in the publishing world.
Reason Six – To Understand The Publishing World
Why do we pay out substantial amounts of money if it is not motivated by the desire to be a published children’s author? An understanding of the publishing process is essential if you want to achieve this vision. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The workshop leaders are there to offer tips to writers on trends in national publishing and advice how to approach and work with editors. Their aim is to help you understand the publishing process as well as to help you improve your writing skills. In general, people are flattered to be asked for their views and advice.
Reason Seven – To Network
The most important benefit of a writing conference is not what you can learn but the connections and relationships you make. Talent, craft and skill do enter the equation but it is, ‘who you know’ that can tip the balance in your favour.
Everyone who attends the conference as a speaker or as a participant has his or her own networking agenda. Many of them have done their research in advance. They have looked at what speakers are attending the conference before they arrived. Don’t stalk these people, but chat to them and hand out your business card. Find out something about them and think of something interesting to talk about in advance to break the ice.
We often hear how editors are inundated with the wrong material because writers haven’t done their homework. Networking helps to identify the people who have inside knowledge and who know the right individuals to contact. It can be just the lead you need to break into a particular market.
Reason Eight – To Socialise
Use the opportunity to socialise, so publishers will be able to associate your face with a name the next time you submit your work to them. Whilst socialising, enquire about their interests, what they are publishing, what they are looking for, so you know exactly if your area of skill and writing expertise is what they require.
Many writers have found success from being recommended to a publisher from writers they have met at conferences. And remember, a conference isn’t over when you go home. You should leave with a selection of e-mail contacts and business cards. Send these personal connections a query letter stating when and where you met. Often agents and editors are more likely to look at a manuscript if they have met you at a conference or writing festival, even if their normal policy is no unsolicited manuscripts.
Reason Nine – For the Opportunities
If a conference offers a one-to-one, as the SCBWI-BI Writing Day does, make the most of it. The personal touch does make a difference, and don’t forget - be polite – people will remember. If there are handouts, take them. Pick up those brochures and catalogues they are invaluable for the research into what people are publishing, their tastes and preferences. Make the most of the opportunities.
Reason Ten – To Offer Something in Return
You may also find you are able to offer them something unique in return. Volunteer to help or get involved. Use your skills to your advantage. You should always try to give something back, remember: ‘you reap what you sow’. Networking is a two-way process. Be helpful in putting people in touch with someone useful, they are more likely to return the favour.