RTW: Conference Choice

The YA Highway ladies are celebrating writing conferences this week, so today’s Road Trip Wednesday question is in-keeping with that theme:Β What book and/or writing conference would you love to go to? Writers–especially unpublished writers–are often exhorted to attend conferences. Not only can you hear industry professionals discuss various aspects of publishing, but you get to network with other writers, meet agents and publishers, pitch your novel, and interact in person with people you may only otherwise know online.

The ideal “in-person” conference for me would be one I could drive to (and stay with friends or family for the duration), so it would be relatively close-by. It would also somehow not be too expensive, and yet have a good roster of professionals in attendance, and be popular enough, to make it all worthwhile. Right now, I don’t know if that exists However, if money were no object, and I had the flexibility to travel wherever, I would like to go to either Backspace, or Writer’s Digest (I believe they alternate between east coast and west coast–the upcoming 2012 conference is west coast).

For now, though, the next best thing is WriteOnCon. This is a free online conference that, while lacking the face-to-face benefits of “in-person” conferencing, still offers talks, Q&A sessions with agents and publishers, and lively forums for query and manuscript critiques. I attended last year and got a lot out of it. Two highlights. First, the forums, where I got some very valuable feedback on my query and first few pages (they even had “Ninja Agents”–unidentified literary agents who would drop into the forums at random times and give professional critiques of some of the work on offer). Second, literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer’s 1-hour Q&A session that she kept going for about 3 hours because she (along with us) was having such a good time!

This year’s WriteOnCon is August 14-15. If, like me, your economic situation is keeping you from traveling to a conference, consider WriteOnCon as an alternative–perhaps not as good as in-person–but still worth your time.

Do you have a favorite conference? Join the conversation at YA Highway by either answering in their comments, or writing a blog response and linking to your article in their comments. Or you can comment here. I don’t mind. I like comments!

34 thoughts on “RTW: Conference Choice

    1. cds Post author

      You’re welcome, Laurie! It’s a great idea for a conference–as well as the economic advantage, it’s also good for those who are, for whatever reason, unable to leave home to go to a conference.

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  1. Susan Francino

    I did WriteOnCon last year as well, and like you, I got SO much out of it! I’m definitely doing it again this August. (And wow, this year I’ll have friends! So exciting!)

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    1. cds Post author

      Cool, Susan!! Last year, I was still getting to know other aspiring writers so I didn’t know anyone else there. This year I’ll know to at least look out for you! πŸ™‚

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    1. cds Post author

      If you can’t get to another conference this year (and even if you can, actually), WriteOnCon is time well spent. It’d be great to “see” you there, Bess! πŸ™‚

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  2. Sarah Nicolas

    Oh, I’d love to go to Backspace too! I have two friends who have gone and they highly recommend it.

    I’ll be at WriteOnCon! It’s a fabulous opportunity – especially if you can devote a few days to it. (I usually have to work, so it’s more difficult)

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    1. cds Post author

      I had heard of Backspace, but then with Janet Reid’s recent competition, I read more about it and it sounds like it would be really beneficial.

      WriteOnCon *is* a great opportunity. I hope to “see” you there, Sarah! πŸ™‚

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  3. Robin Moran

    Thanks for the heads up on WriteOnCon. Being from the UK especially I think we really lack in the huge writing events. They always seem to be in America so this is perfect for the oversea-ers!

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    1. cds Post author

      That’s a great point about WriteOnCon, Robin. Of course, since it’s hosted in the US, there will be a time difference. But if you can stand a couple of late nights/early mornings, it’s well worth it!

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  4. Erin L. Schneider

    Oh, I’m a big fan of the ladies over at WriteOnCon – and I’ve attended the past two years! Love that they’ve taken the time to set this up – and yet, keep it free for everyone…this is a favorite of mine, for sure.

    Since I’m a member, I’ve also attended the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference here in Seattle. They get some great agents / editors to come out and it’s always a good time!

    There are so, so, many – but…two that I’d love to get to at some point? BEA and SCBWI in LA (and as Sarah mentioned above, I’ve heard Backspace is a fab one as well! I guess that’s three πŸ™‚ ). One of these days!

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    1. cds Post author

      It’s great that the WriteOnCon folks put so much time and energy into organizing it and yet keep it free. I’m looking forward to this year’s already! I really would like to go to an “offline” conference sometime. BEA would be cool if only for all the ARCs! πŸ™‚

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  5. Jaime

    WriteOnCon sounds good, but I’m not sure if I’d be disciplined enough to check everything out (or as much as possible) from the comfort of my own office. If I physically went to a conference I’d be more inclined to wander and check things out. Plus, I’m not sure if I even get how an online conference works exactly. I’ll have to look into more, because I’m sure that I could learn a lot. Plus, attending out of town conferences is super expensive! πŸ™‚

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    1. cds Post author

      I wasn’t sure exactly how an online conference would work, but it does! The forums that run during WriteOnCon are excellent. You can post your query and have others give friendly and helpful critiques. A lot of the talks are done in chatrooms, with moderated Q&A sessions. If I recall correctly, there are also some streamed video presentations. The WriteOnCon ladies should be posting an agenda sometime soon (if it’s not up already), so keep an eye on the website. Just as you would an offline conference, you can plan which talks or QA sessions you want to attend, and in the meantime you can network with other writers via the forums. And since it is all online, you can fit it into your schedule, so you don’t have to withdraw from life while you’re there (although I’m sure an advantage to an offline conference is that you *can* escape life for a few days!).

      It’s free, so why not try it out? It’ll cost you nothing, but I’m sure you’ll get something out of it. Also, the agents that “attend” will tell you that they treat it like any other conference (i.e., you can mention you “met” them at WriteOnCon when you query).

      You know it makes sense, Jaime… πŸ˜‰

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  6. kate scott

    I’ve “registered” for WriteOnCon for the past two years but then not really participated when the dates rolled around. Still I agree that WriteOnCon is one of the many great on-line forums for writers to get connected.

    Here is one piece of advice that I have for going to live conferences, see if you can volenteer. I’ve attended the Willamette Writers Conference for the past three years (because it’s in my hometown). For the past two years, I’ve been a conference volenteer. I work half of each conference day which makes it so I can’t attend all of the workshops, but do have more oppertunities to rub shoulders with the speakers and conference organizers behind the scenes. As thanks for voleneteering, I’m then allowed to attend the other half of each day for only the cost of the food. It’s way cheeper without a noticable decrease in value. I signed with my agent while at last years conference, and I was a volenteer at the time not an official conference attendee.

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    1. cds Post author

      That’s an excellent tip, Kate. I would never have thought of volunteering to help at a conference. As you say, that would enable you to get to know the speakers and organizers better than you would otherwise, and it would help reduce the cost of attendance. Thanks for that–I’ll bear it in mind! πŸ™‚

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  7. Julie Dao

    I’ve heard so much about WriteOnCon but have never had the opportunity to participate! It sounds like such a great resource. I will have to check it out!

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    1. cds Post author

      Definitely check it out, Julie. As I said to Jaime (above), it’s free, so it costs you nothing to investigate–and I’m sure you’ll get something out of it.

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  8. Kat

    I will definitely be at WriteOnCon this year! And if money would not be an issue I would love to go to SCBWI.

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    1. cds Post author

      Excellent! I’ll look out for you at WriteOnCon, Kat! πŸ™‚ It’s a shame so many of these great conferences cost so much. I understand–it costs a lot to assemble all those agents, editors, and writers in one place, and pay for all the overheads (not least the travel expenses to get to the conference). Still, it hurts not to be able to go.

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  9. Shari Green

    WriteOnCon was great — I even got a full request from one of the Ninja Agents! I will be away from home during this year’s WriteOnCon, though…too bad! Maybe I can sneak online between visiting/traveling. πŸ˜‰

    Glad to discover your blog, Colin — “writing, theology, and life” caught my attention. I’ll definitely have a look around and visit again!

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    1. cds Post author

      Ooo–a full request! My query was Ninja Agent-critiqued, and the comments were both encouraging and helpful. I hope you manage to find time to sneak online this year!

      Thanks for visiting, Shari. I’ve been blogging for nearly a year, so there’s plenty of stuff on here to look at. I hope you stop by again–and often! πŸ™‚

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  10. Leslie

    I just learned about WriteOnCon and I’m really looking forward to it! I wish I could go many more conferences this year but since I live in the sticks and conferences can be pricey as well, I’m so glad there is an online one!

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    1. cds Post author

      For those of us who, due to cost or distance or both, find it difficult to get out to conferences, WriteOnCon is a blessing! If it’s the same as last year, they do ask that you register so you can gain access to the forums. I don’t think the registration form is up yet, but keep an eye on the site–I’m sure it will be soon. (The registration is free.)

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  11. Carrie

    Yay for WriteOnCon. Such a great conference. I feel like people had their work noticed by Ninja Agents in the forums last year.

    On a side note-DIVERGENT has been circulating through my friends and coworkers like crazy since I finished it. They have all gone out and bought INSURGENT now too.

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    1. cds Post author

      One of the things that really impressed me about WriteOnCon was the amount of industry support it received–both agents and editors gave of their time to participate, and gave it equal legitimacy with any of the traditional, “offline” conferences. Yes, people’s work most certainly was recognized!

      That’s really cool about DIVERGENT! Not surprising, though–it’s such a good book. I hope they all thank you for entering the competition! πŸ™‚

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  12. Beck

    I’m hoping to be a part of WriteOnCon too! It looks wonderful. I would love to be able to attend one of the big ones in real life. I think it’s something that will have to wait until time and money situation change though.

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  13. Ghenet Myrthil

    I highly recommend Writer’s Digest. I’ve been to their NYC conference and it’s great. I also love Write On Con and look forward to it this summer. *See* you there! πŸ™‚

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    1. cds Post author

      Thanks for the comment on Writer’s Digest, Ghenet. I thought it looked interesting, but I hadn’t heard much from anyone that had been. “See” you at WriteOnCon! πŸ™‚

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  14. Rachael

    I’ve done WriteOnCon the last two years and it’s amazing! Especially for those writers that really want to go to conferences, but can’t afford to or can’t get away for that long. For some reason, something always comes up that I end up missing the majority of the conference so this year I’m determined to make time for all of it.

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    1. cds Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts, Rachael! I hope you get to enjoy all of WriteOnCon this year. πŸ™‚

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