I just recently returned back from a trip to San Diego where I attended the 25th annual Southern California Writing Conference. (www.writersconference.com) It was the first conference I’d ever attended, being quite content to stay cozied up in my own little world with only myself and a few close friends and family reading my material, hoping that someday soon the query I’d sent to agents/publishers would be picked out of the hundreds of submissions they receive.
After 2 years of trying with nothing but form letter rejections, I realized I needed to do something different if I actually wanted to be published. I needed some real feedback from people in the business. So I attended a writers conference, having no idea if it would be worth the money, time, plane tickets, hotel, etc. I’d spent on it.
It most DEFINITELY was.
I’m not promoting the conference as a chance to get “found” by an agent. I’m promoting it as a chance to meet other writers who feel as passionate about writing as you do, attend lectures and workshops from agents, editors, and published writers from all subjects, including bettering your writing, learning how to deal with the publishing world, and marketing yourself and your writing, and, my favorite of all, read and critique sessions where you can read your own writing and get feedback from peers and professionals.
I had already learned a lot from the Internet, publishing books, and author websites. But those things only took me so far. I needed to really get out there and learn what it takes to be in this profession. It’s not easy and takes a lot of hard work (anyone who says it’s easy to write a book has never written one, or at least not a good one!), but I know that I have to write these stories, that I enjoy them, and that I think others would enjoy them, too. For me, the effort is worth it.
And to be honest, even if I never got published, I would keep writing anyway. I’m not doing this for money or prestige–if I were, I would have picked a different career. I’m doing this because I need to write these stories, no matter what happens to them afterwards. If they do get published and people enjoy them as much as I do, then that is icing on a very, very tasty cake.
I’ve attended two conferences and completely agree with you. It’s not about the agents, it’s about what you learn and take away from the early morning to late night sessions. Good luck with everything!