Ah, book festivals and writers conferences – our favorite events on each year’s calendar! Whether you’re a writer seeking a publishing deal or writing advice, or an emerging author searching for new, valuable connections, these writer-centric events will gain you an enormous amount of traction. Here’s why, and how to make the most of your experience!
Writers Conferences Create Experts
If you haven’t published yet and are seeking a traditional deal, then attending writers conferences where agents and editors are present is key to move you ahead of the thousands of unsolicited manuscripts received by these overworked folks! But don’t overlook the authors attending and speaking; they may be better contacts than you realize!
First, authors attending conferences are typically “in the know” when it comes to the whole publishing process. Second, making friends with the authors, often overlooked by most attendees all too anxious to court agents, can be valuable networking contacts. They may know an agent… or a bookstore you should network with… or might even be viable as someone who may blurb your book.
In a perfect example of this, I attended a conference in 2015 where I had the chance to meet a NYT bestselling author. He wasn’t someone who needed my services but I spent just as much time with him as with other authors. This year, I had a client who wrote in the same genre and I reached out to this author. He was more than happy to blurb my client’s book, which resulted in more open doors and book signings.
Second, if you have the opportunity to present on a panel at a writers conference, even if it’s to offer other potential authors advice, DO IT! True, you won’t sell a ton of books, but there are plenty of other benefits. You’ll be able to network with other author presenters, bookstores attending, and future authors who may get you additional exposure if you blurb their books!
Conferences are also a great way to fine-tune your own presentations. And, being able to say in the next pitch to a store or festival that you were a presenter at XYZ conference will help build your public resume.
Book Festivals: An Author’s Fish in a Barrel!
And then there are book festivals. These are a fabulous way to connect with a whole bunch of readers all gathered in one place with a common love of books. Pitch every book festival you can and pitch them early. Hint: We maintain a calendar of over 120 book festivals and over 150 writer conferences in our Winner Circle!
If you’re not selected, don’t lose heart. There may be an opportunity to exhibit, either through your publisher or alone, depending on how cost-prohibitive.
Even if you can’t exhibit, it will pay to attend your local book festivals. There will be ample opportunities to meet readers, as well as other authors. And, studying the presentations other authors give is an education in itself. Which talks are you drawn to? Why? Which presenters do the best job, or the worst?
Finally, take notes on what readers ask of authors, and what you think of to ask authors yourself. This can be very useful in developing a Q&A or “Twenty Questions With…” for your own author and website and social media.
Enjoy the additional resource articles below and tell us about your own success or challenges with writers conferences and book festivals with your comments below!