You are an author. Maybe this is a new shiny title for you, one that you have been dreaming of since you were old enough to read. Or maybe you have a few self-published books under your belt and are adding to your personal bookshelf collection. Whatever your author story, you wrote a book or are in the process of writing one and you feel good about it. Good enough to share this book and get the feedback and support you need to make this best possible effort a reality.

Part of being an author is the isolated creative focus. Getting it all down and out of your head. Once you get serious about cranking out a book, you will also be responsible for getting it out there. You will have to market and sell your own book. You have to tell the reading world that your book is coming and to pre-order it. You have to create excitement and an audience now as a marketing professional in addition to being an author. Your book is a very important product and readers need it. You put your heart and soul into this baby. It’s best to get out there now and start the process of connecting, in person and face-to-face. Consider investing some money into attending a writer’s conference. The networking alone will be invaluable to your writing career.

Before you make any big decisions on which conference(s) to attend, research local and regional conferences and identify the ones that best suit you and your budget. They can range from a daily event for a few hundred dollars plus add ons, to a week long vacation-style event costing thousands in fees, travel, accommodations and social events. Next, decide what it is that you want to accomplish at the conference and sign up for the relevant add ons. Make a list of goals in advance to check off as you dive into event details. It can be easy to get carried away and incur unnecessary costs. Finally, make sure you have enough time to fully prepare yourself and your book manuscript to successfully attend a writer’s conference and get the most out of this must-have experience.

So what exactly is a writer’s conference?

A writer’s conference is an annual opportunity for writers, authors and publishing professionals to come together in person, network and discuss topics relevant to writing and publishing new books. There is usually an in-depth agenda over a day or more featuring experts sharing their knowledge on all topics to help authors improve their skill set. Authors also benefit from networking with peers and publishing industry service providers such as editors and illustrators. 

What can an indie author learn at a writer’s conference?

No matter where you are with your book, outline, sample chapters, finished manuscript or self-published book, you can learn so much at just one conference and dramatically improve your outlook and process to become a successful author. At the minimum, the takeaway is renewed motivation and excitement to keep writing and finish your book. From there the value increases depending on your goals and plan. 

Not all writer’s conferences are the same, but some benefits may include:

  • Meet other authors, just like you
  • Mingle with famous authors
  • Connect with other writing and publishing professionals in person
  • Share your unique writing/author story
  • Identify your audience
  • Find emotional support in common community
  • Quell your fears and uncertainty 
  • Learn and develop new writing skills
  • Get a review of your manuscript
  • Seek a peer book review (author swap)
  • Meet a literary agent and practice your pitch (they love authors with self-published books)
  • Get your name out there
  • Decide on the best way to publish your book
  • Identify a good self-publishing course for you
  • Learn about the business of self-publishing
  • Learn how to sell your book
  • Learn how to develop your author brand

What should you bring to a writer’s conference?

Conferences are jam packed and fast-paced so be sure to plan out a schedule to follow in advance. Spend some time planning your time there and choose events you want to attend so you will know what to bring with you and not forget anything essential. A good place to start includes:

  • Yourself, ready to talk about you and your book(s) and ideas
  • Book synopsis
  • A printed sample chapter
  • Copies of your manuscript
  • Your printed book (or previous books) if you have one
  • Business cards with your author website address
  • An elevator speech – one for you and another for your book
  • Copies of books by select presenters and speakers you want to meet

What you should plan to come away with?

Be sure to get your name out there. Ask for feedback. Build an audience. You will be guaranteed to gain a boost in confidence once you have immersed yourself in this environment. 

Bonus that this is a write-off towards your author business. The event fee, travel, hotel and associated costs for the event are all considered write-offs.

Now get out there and find the next writer’s conference that is a good match for you and your book. It may just prove to be one of the best decisions of your budding author career.

Check back in August for part two on this topic: What to do immediately after you attend a writer’s conference.

Article written by Anne Meick – writer, author, and creator of Writers’ Connection.

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