The trick to this kind of return on investment is choosing wisely. There are large conferences, mid-size ones and small ones. Each offers a specific benefit, as well as overlapping benefits. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
If your primary goal is networking/job leads a large conference is a good investment. These venues offer more opportunities to get to know industry professionals—writers, editors and agents. I recommend you choose one close, if possible. If that’s not an option, look at air fares and associated travel costs to determine your real dollar investment. Generally the conference fee will be augmented by room costs, meals and travel expenses.
There are lots of excellent conferences out there, but here is an incomplete list:
- ACFW Annual Conference
- Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference
- Southwest Christian Writers Conference
- Write to Publish
- Christian Writers Guild
- Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference
If learning your craft is your primary goal, a smaller venue may be the best choice for you. These smaller gatherings offer targeted education and more individual attention. There are literally hundreds of options in this category. The best way to sort through them all is to get personal recommendations. Find someone who has attended and get their opinion.
Here are some reoccurring seminars that you might want to consider:
If a conference is out of your budget, don’t despair. There are online options for networking and education. You may have to work a little harder to stay motivated (for the classes) and to get to know people, but it can be done. Here are some GREAT forums. These are well moderated and craft oriented, promising a professional place to play on the Internet.
- ACFW (membership is required, $50 first year, $40 there after)
- My Book Therapy Voices Forum (membership is free)
- The Christian Writers View 1 (Yahoo Group, for professiona writers, application required, no fee)
- The Christian Writers View 2 (Yahoo Group, for beginning & intermediate writers, no fee)
Now it’s your turn—what conferences or online groups have worked for you?
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