Many established writers are sought after by conferences to offer clinics and workshops on everything from editing to the publishing process, to marketing. For the emerging author, a writer’s conference can be a chance to meet other authors who may want to blurb your book, to mentor up and comers, and to let your readers know you’re a sought-after speaker. That in turn can help you get more book signings and other appearances!
Finding the Best Conferences
But what CAN be a secret is finding the best conferences to connect with. Enter ShawGuides.com. While not foolproof (a few events are listed that no longer exist, for instance, and occasionally newer events don’t know they can be listed for free), it’s definitely the bar-none best place to begin. You can search by month, country, state, major city, or even by focus, i.e. humor, mystery, journalism, YA, screenwriting, etc. You can use multiple search terms, too, say, if you wanted to attend a writer’s conference while in Rome during May!
When the results come up you can click on one that looks interesting, and you’ll get a full description that looks like the example shown (click on the image to enlarge). From here you’ll see you can check the dates and how long the event runs, how much registration is for attendees, read the program description, visit the website of the conference directly and/or connect via the conference’s included email.
Augment your Shaw Guides search with a Google Search of writer’s conferences in your area and you’ll soon have several from which to choose.
Once you pick a few conferences that may be a good fit for your work, it’s time to make a pitch! Keep these tips in mind:
- Most writer’s conferences don’t have big budgets for speakers. Unless it’s an NYT best-selling author or Pulitzer prize winner, faculty honorariums will range from $0 to a few hundred. Expenses are typically covered, within reason, i.e. room, meals, transportation.
- Have something to offer, i.e. a well-crafted speech on character building if that’s your strong suit, or on writing a series, editing for clarity, etc., etc. The more potential topics you can offer, the more likely you can fill a needed niche.
- Self-published authors need apply, too! Conferences are paying closer attention to this key growth segment of the industry and developing panels of indie authors to share insights with prospective authors. Suggest your participation on such a panel, or even suggest leading one!
- Offer up a giveaway as well. Many conferences do auctions or raffles or other promotions that help them raise the funds to cover expenses of bringing in faculty, so they’re often looking for donations, whether of books or critiques for aspiring writers. You’ll get mileage out of the added promotion.
- Apply early. If it’s May and you’re pitching a June conference, chances are they’ve already filled the slate and are getting busy with final details. Feel free to make contact, but offer up a “It may be too late for this year, but if I can help, this year or next…” Then you’re in the pool, so to speak – and should they need help, well…
- Above all, be kind to conference leaders! Most are volunteers, and volunteering can be a thankless job. Make their jobs easy by providing requested materials on time (i.e. talk topics, guest blogs, bio info, photos). Communicate your needs clearly as well as how you can serve theirs. And thank them – often and profusely – for all they’re doing to help advance the writer community. They mostly do it out of a shared passion for the written word, but it’s nice to be appreciated all the same… (And conference producers do network with each other, so you’ll be putting in a good word for yourself, too.)
Okay, you probably won’t make a living speaking at writer’s conferences and workshops, but you will draw attention to your book and to yourself as an author and expert, so give it a try!
Know of a conference WWW should share with our tribe? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add it to our calendar and give you a shout out, too!