Professionals attend conferences. Since deciding to be a professional writer, I have attended three conferences in person and two online conferences. The new conference I’m attending this year offered some benefits the others didn’t.
I’ve been eyeing the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference for a couple years, but in the past it didn’t meet my needs.
For one thing, I wasn’t focusing on writing exclusively for the Christian market. And I’m still not. But I do have two projects in a “sellable” state that fit this market.
For another thing, it seemed to be heavy on nonfiction the first time I looked into it. Nonfiction? That translates to “no fun.” Right?
Or not. This year, one of the manuscripts I’m pitching is nonfiction.
Why This Conference?
There are two large writer’s conferences in the Portland Metropolitan area each year. I’ll be writing a post comparing and contrasting these two events.
OCW is what I need at this point in my career.
Let’s talk about the women’s fiction manuscript I’ve been laboring over for a year. It has a slight Christian bent, and that could be accentuated if I found a publisher that wanted to market it in the Christian marketplace.
I’ve pitched this story to one editor that I hope to meet with at the conference. There are a few other editors that I hope to get an opportunity to pitch this novel to.
Then there’s the thing I’ve lovingly referred to as “the grief memoir” for the past three years. Not that I was even writing it until last year. And even then it was sporadic. This book sucks my emotions dry.
What else would you expect from a book about dealing with grief?
Two agencies look right for this project. Both of these agents prefer memoir-like writings and are looking for nonfiction. I pray I’ll meet with these women and they’ll see the gaping hole in the market that this book can fill.
At least one of these women also represents fiction writers. You know that’s the one I really want. And I want her to ask when she offers me a contract, “What else are you writing?”
This year, OCW meets my needs much better than WW ever did.
One great thing about this conference is that the fee ($550) includes everything.
Okay, it doesn’t include a room at the hotel and breakfast. So maybe not everything. But it does include:
- Personalized workshops where I will interact with the instructor
- Two full meals each day
- A bookstore where I can sell my own books
- Free manuscript critiques
- A 30-minute mentoring appointment
- Three pre-conference pitches
- Appointments for pitching projects during the conference
- Classes on everything from indie publishing to writing a memoir to building your brand
It’s pretty amazing that so many things I paid extra for at the Willamette Writer’s Conference (WW) are included while the main fee isn’t that different.
Also, the organizers are so incredibly helpful. They’ve made themselves accessible via email. They created a Facebook group for first time conference attendees (where they posted everything from a packing list to critiques of pitches).
Professionals should know what they’re getting when they attend a conference. What’s more? They should have expectations about what the take-away will be.
After all, this isn’t my employer shucking out the money from a multi-billion dollar budget. It’s me and my “I’ve yet to make a profit writing” business. Is this conference worth the time and money invested?
Well, if it meets these expectations, the answer will be yes.
As far as workshops:
- I’ll learn new things about how to get published
- My writing craft will improve
- I’ll understand the nonfiction proposal process
- The author of my daily class will help me form a plan for being a novelist
As far as networking:
- I’ll meet published authors who are real, approachable and helpful
- I’ll meet publishing professionals who want to connect with me
- Other newer writers will interact with me
- Perhaps they’ll be some like-minded authors who want to form a writing critique group
As far as career advancement:
- Half the books I take to sell will sell
- The agents I meet with will request pages
- The editor I meet with will request pages
- The mentor I meet will help me formulate a nonfiction proposal and writing schedule
So, really, I’m not expecting much for my $550. It should be easy-as-pie to get all these things.
Look for a post later this month detailing whether the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference met or exceeded my expectations. (Notice I’m not giving it the option of NOT meeting them.)
Do you attend professional conferences? Why or why not?