8 Things I Learned From Attending My First Writer’s Conference ~ Part 1

As my email subscribers already know, I attended my first writing conference this past month. It was a scary prospect and a new experience for me. I will readily admit, I was scared. But also ready. I have been writing for eight years now and have dreamed of going to a writers conference for probably half that time. I was stoked to be finally going to one.

I can say, without a doubt, it was the best experience I could have had. So much so, I wanted to share with all of you eight things that I learned about attending conferences. Maybe you’ve gone to a conference, maybe you haven’t yet, but either way, I hope that these tips will help your experience.

Make Connections

At every conference there are so many agents, editors, publishers, and authors there to help you. Yes, you. These are professionals that have been where you are and are now where you want to be. They have been in the trenches, experienced your pain, and they want to help you as you further your career.

Let them.

That might sound too simple as you’re sitting there reading this article. But when you are at a writer’s conference… it’s suddenly harder than you might think.

You’re nervous and scared. You don’t want to walk up to that important agent and ask them to critique your pitch. In fact, you’d rather run a 10k right about then.

Okay, okay. Perhaps the 10k was a bit extreme. But not by far.

Walking up to someone you’ve idolized is not an easy thing to do. But do it. I’m not joking. Believe me when I say you will regret it one hundred times over if you don’t. Make that connection with that person even if it ends once you leave the conference. There will be the people that stay in contact with you, help you in your journey, and be there for you when you need them most.

Or maybe you don’t even stay in contact after the conference. But you’ve now met the person. Chances are, they will remember you. And down the road, when you’re ready to publish a book, you might need them to endorse your book or help with the launch in some way. And it’s because of that connection you made that they’re willing to help you.

Connections are valuable things to have in the publishing industry.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

This is another scary aspect of conferences. Asking questions. But, as I said above, these professionals are there for you to talk with and ask questions.

When I was at the writer’s conference I knew I had questions and I knew I wanted to ask them… but that didn’t make it any less daunting. I remember after one session about critique groups I wanted to ask the lady’s advice on how to find critique groups. My knees were literally shaking as I walked to the front.

But, once we started talking, I was so glad I had asked! This woman was super sweet and all too eager to help. She ended up giving me the email to a specific critique group and told me if I followed through with it to tell them that she recommended me. And the conversation didn’t end there. We kept talking and I enjoyed her very much.

(And because I can’t help myself, if you haven’t heard of PeggySue Wells, I recommend looking her up. She was the woman I’m talking about and was super kind to my friends and I throughout the whole conference. Even going so far as to single us out and ask how we were. She’s really nice and an amazing author so be sure to check out her books!)

Don’t Let Fear Control You

Going along with the last two points, don’t let fear control you. It can be a paralyzing friend and keep you from achieving your dreams. You have to say no to it and do what scares you.

If you always let fear control you then you will never achieve your dreams.

I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m an extrovert, I enjoy talking with people.” Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, the nerves before walking up to an agent are real. It’s scary. What if they reject your idea? What if they hate your WIP and tell you to ditch it for good? What if, what if…

Those “what if” questions are what keep you rooted in your spot across the room from that person you want to talk with–and never getting a chance to ask them that question. My tip for you? Don’t let your mind go to the “what if” questions. Stop it before it reaches them and start walking.

For me, the person I wanted to talk with was an agent. But I had let myself reach the “what if” questions and I was suddenly rooted to my spot. I saw my opportunity, she was sitting by herself… but I couldn’t move.

Thankfully, in my case, I had two friends with me all too willing to give me a literal shove in her direction. And suddenly I was walking towards her. *gulp* But I smiled and she smiled back and I started talking. And what I found was a really sweet lady eager to help me. She was kind. And the experience was amazing.

(I don’t want to give all my secrets away regarding this agent, but let’s just say this talk went really well. Better than I was expecting. Way better.)

Talk to People

I’m not just talking about the professionals here. There will be other writers either at your stage of writing or around, and would love to talk with you as much as you would love to talk with them. Talk with them. Make friends.

Writer’s conferences aren’t only for making connections with professionals, it’s a great place to make other writer friends as well. Maybe sit with someone new for each meal and enjoy meeting people.

My friends and I enjoyed meeting a lot of new people and making a lot of friends, as well as meeting up with a few. It was so much fun and something I enjoying thinking back on about the conference. To be able to sit around a table with other writers and simply talk books, fandoms, and writing projects was such an amazing experience.

So, yeah. Make those friends! You won’t regret it.

And that is my first four tips on attending writing conferences. I hope these first four tips will make your next conference experience better. Tune in next week to read part two!

Your turn!

Have you ever been to a writer’s conference? Do you have plans to go to one next year? What tips would you add?

Blessings, Allyson


6 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned From Attending My First Writer’s Conference ~ Part 1

  1. Lol, that’s awesome you had two friends who gave you a literal shove in her direction! xD Hilarious! Sounds like my younger extrovert brother who’s done that to me before. 😉 I hope I can go to a writer’s conference one day!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was! I wouldn’t have done several things if it hadn’t been for them. 😂 Haha!! Everyone needs one of them in their life, lol. Maybe one day we’ll go to the same writer’s conference! That would be fun!!

      Liked by 1 person

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