Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mary's Rants - The Great Conference search

As all of you know and read, most of the M&M's were in Orlando for the National RWA Conference. My question has always been which is best large or small?

Big isn't always best. Now you read all about the accounting of Liz and Kari's fun. And had I been in the right frame of mind (totally different story itself) I would have been right there partying with them.

Am I saying that I didn't enjoy the conference? That I didn't find it beneficial? That I didn't walk away with lots to absorb? I didn't have any positive contact with industry professionals?

Heavens NO!

As always I learned a lot of very important craft and career information. Was it a bad time for me? Yes. Am I glad I went? Yes.

What I’m trying to say here is, like anything else you have to find what works for you. If you like the energy, the rubbing of shoulders with hundreds of industry professionals, the networking and the other opportunities of a big conference, then you should attend one.
This year there were 2100+ attendees, that’s a lot of competition for the agent/editors attention. Chances are you’re going to run into someone during your conference time, but will you actually have quality time to chat? Or even pitch something? Chances are a lot slimmer.

Small conferences give you a better chance to talk at length, not just pitch, with an agent and/or editor. There is less choice in workshops, but usually you can find a conference focused on the genre you write. If you write suspense, the New England Crime Bake would be a good choice.

The small conference is more intimate and less intimidating. In fact, if you think you’ll like the high energy of the National RWA Conference but have never attended one, a small conference would help you get your big toe wet to test the waters.

Conferences are one of the best opportunities to learn, network and meet other writers. How often you get to talk to someone who understands that you are not crazy even though you have voices in your head that talk to you?

As with anything writing related, do your research. RWA has a list of all the conferences coming up on the web site and in the RWR. Or you can Google writing conferences. Look at the agents and the editors attending, do they have the ones you’re targeting? Do they have workshops that would help your craft or help you with your career? Large or small, you need to do this. In our economy, it’s prudent to spend your money where you’ll get the biggest bang.

If you love the people, the glitz, the energy and all the famous authors and big names in the industry, and you can afford the conference; then I guess we’ll see you at National RWA in NYC in 2011!


tonya kappes said...

I do love the small conferences. I like to have to opportunity to chat with other authors and take our time instead of rushing around. Plus I feel like I get more out of the workshops b/c they are less crowded and the instructor can generally stay around and answer all specific questions. Nationals to me isn't about securing that editor/agent, it's more of a social networking for me.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I love conferences and am STILL in conference withdrawl! Now I am going to start targeting conferences though. I need to go to YA ones when my teen stuff comes out and mystery ones when my adult stuff comes out and then always nationals cuz that works for everything and i always have soooo much fun :-)

Mary Martinez said...

Tonya, you're right, it's great for networking. But it's so packed. I love listing to the CD's after I get so much out of them. I listened to The Tao of Publishing with Steven Axelrod and one of his authors yesterday. Amazing, and I needed to hear.

Kari, you're right targeting YA conferences or mystery ones works for you. Too bad you can't make our URWA in Park City this year, we have a lot targeted toward the YA market. Not to mention Christine Feehen and her agent Steven Axelrod will be there. Of course, she's paranormal. So we have a bit for everyone.

It's fun to put on the conference, because I can pick an editor/agent up at the airport and I have them captive for the hour drive. LOL

Lindsay said...

Right now I plan to attend more genre specific conferences. Originally, I'd planned to go to the RWA New Jersey chapter conference in October but have decided against it. I don't have anything against the conference. As a matter of fact, I think they put on a really great one. Instead, I'm planning on attending the New England Crime Bake. I feel I'll get more out of the genre specific conference with the workshops and will have a chance to meet authors who write in the genre I do-suspense. Oh, and I won't be the only guy there like with romance conferences.
As far as New York next year-not sure but thinking about not going but I can always change my mind. Don't forget ladies, us guys can change our minds also.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, I love them both for entirely different reasons. I love the big conferences for the networking and the smaller ones for hobnobbing with the editors/agents...networking.LOL I love the partying at both!!

Like Lindsay, I am cutting back this year and trying to go to more genre-specifc ones.

Great topic, Mary.

Lindsay said...

Actually, with the smaller conferences I'm able to network easier because of fewer people.
And I guess miracles fo happen. Liz agreed with me on something.

Becke Davis said...

This is a tough question for me, too. Last year Bouchercon was close, so I went to that and had a great time. But San Francisco is a long way.

I did go to RT, but missed RWA in Orlando because of a family wedding. I'm going to the Central Ohio Fiction Writers conference, but now a friend wants me to join her at Magna Cum Murder in Muncie, and I'm debating whether to go.

My favorite conference is Lori Foster's get together, which is a smaller reader/writer event. That's the most fun for hanging out with friends, for sure. But the bigger conferences are great for networking.

It's a tough call!