words on writers conferences - by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Conferences: Muddy Waters for Authors or a Real
reading a fellow author's assessment of a writers' conference, I have
a new motto. It's based on the old adage, "Don't throw the baby out
with the bathwater." Mine is: don't avoid the advantages of a
writers' conference because they are sometimes muddied up with
Van Horn letter (see the archives on www.rebeccasreads.com),
made some very good points but she was quite upset with some of the
seminars and with the agent interviews and decided to self-publish after
her conference experience. In spite of the flaws I've seen in many of
the conferences I've attended, I think that each of us owes it to our
books--fiction or nonfiction--to at least make an effort to try the
traditional way to publishing (which, obviously this author did) and to
include at least one writers' conference in that effort.
If you don't attend a conference you'll miss the advantage of
travel—sometimes at a tax deduction: Kristin
Johnson, author of Christmas Cookies
are for Giving likes writers' conferences for the travel they afford
her. She believes that travel inspires. She says, "Sometimes your
imagination needs a boost."
The opinion I read also suggested that the agents only attend because they are paid. The implication was that, because of this, they might have less interest in finding clients than in their salaries. That is, of course, a possibility. It is also possible that all the agents who attend conferences are not paid. Many who speak or serve in some way are, I'm sure, but all? I also believe that university-sponsored writers' conferences can hardly afford to pay such big bucks that agents are tempted to come only for the money. Isn't it true that agents must have writers to survive and that one of the major ways they find talent is at conferences?
I have attended a variety of writers' events. I was especially impressed by UCLA's conference (now called a studio) and the San Diego Writers' Conference. I also attended overseas events for writers in St. Petersburg, RU, Cambridge in the UK, and Prague in the Czech Republic. I think each writer should try at least one reputable conference. We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. Bev did.
Howard-Johnson's first novel, "This is the Place," has won eight
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