Monday, August 5, 2019

Writers Conferences: 10 Lesser Known Benefits


by Ralene Burke @RaleneB

Whew! Last month flew by faster than ice cream melts in the summer sun. As Marketing Director for Realm Makers, July is always a big month as we prepare for our annual writers conference and book festival. This year, I was doing just that—while trying to move! Yes, July was indeed a blur.

While I was at Realm Makers, I realized several things I wanted to share. We all know the many benefits of attending writers conferences. Workshops from professionals, networking, pitching sessions, etc. are all great ways to move our publishing careers forward. Yet, there are some benefits I think often go overlooked.

Lesser Known Benefits of Writers Conferences
  • Connecting with our tribe.One of my first posts on this blog was about the importance of finding your tribe. While the internet has provided us with many opportunities to connect with other writers online, there's just something that helps to solidify our relationships when we get to meet people in person. At Realm Makers, writers get to do this, not only on the professional level, but on a more personal and fun level with late night games and venturing out for meals and other adventures.
  • Pushing ourselves!Let's face it. There's a lot about writers conferences that can make us uncomfortable. Maybe we're introverts, and the idea of being around so many people all day is stressful. Maybe we struggle with talking about our books, and yet we want pitch our story to agents/editors. Maybe we get nervous in front of others, but we have something valuable to teach other writers. Whatever our situation, we often find ourselves pushing the limits. Go us!
  • Learning from those who are further in their career.Yes, conferences offer wonderful workshops. But when we get to sit at a meal or in a lobby with a publishing professional and just chat about their writing career, their experiences, publishing in general, we often garner more gems than we would from a hundred workshops, books, or blogs. And many conferences, including Realm Makers, offer mentor appointments in addition to their pitch appointments, so attendees can do just this in a more structured way.
  • Getting in our steps!So, this one may sound silly, but it's true. A lot of bigger conferences are held in conference centers or hotels, where we have to walk around to find classrooms, meals, appointments, etc. We can easily work in some extra miles. I actually lost about 5 pounds at Realm Makers this year. Of course, I did a lot more running around than the average attendee. Still…
  • Brainstorming power!This kind of goes along with connecting with our tribe, but conferences are a great place to throw out ideas and work through plot issues. With a host of creative minds, there's nothing we can't work through. We just have to be brave, describe our story, and state our issue. We're all writers! We love stories, and most love helping! 
  •  Books, books, books!So, this is not true of every writers conference, but one potential perk is access to BOOKS! Sometimes, there's free ones. Realm Makers had one publisher send a free book to go in every attendee's bag, and ACFW has had books on the seats at meals. Some conferences have bookstores or vendor halls, which are a treasure trove of bookish fun. This year, I came home with 10 books from Realm Makers—a couple were free, and the rest I bought in the bookstore.
  • A break from the family.Now, this isn't to say we don't miss our families when we're away, but sometimes a break is refreshing and motivating. When we return home, we're ready to focus and get back to life with a smile on our face!
  • Getting involved!While the writers conferences are put on to help us grow and connect as writers. They are also a great place for us to give back or reach out. Most conferences NEED volunteers to help them run smoothly, and volunteering is a great way to get involved in the community and meet people.
  • Visiting new places.Have you ever been to Atlantic City? I haven't. Realm Makers is going to be in Atlantic City next year, though. I'll be able to go down a little early, get to know the area a bit. Maybe visit some fun places. Because of Realm Makers and other writers conferences, I've also been able to visit Dallas, Denver, St. Louis, Nashville, Reno, and many other places. 
  • Experience in budgeting and ways to raise money. I'll be honest. Going to conferences is not cheap, especially if they aren't local. When I first started going to conferences, I had to get creative with how I was going to pay for them—after all, I wasn't even a published author yet. But investing in ourselves as authors is just as important as a doctor going to college or a computer tech getting certified. We want to set ourselves up for success!

Writers conferences offer a variety of benefits that go beyond what we learn from the workshops and the opportunities we get from networking and pitching. When we embrace the full conference experience, then the benefits begin to pile up and we come away with so much more than we expected. 

What has been your favorite conference so far? Or do you need to start planning for your first one?

TWEETABLES

"Writers conferences offer a variety of benefits that go beyond what we learn from the workshops and the opportunities we get from networking and pitching." @RaleneB on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone #SHINE Beyond their circumstances! Her novels, Bellanok and Armor of Aletheia, are available on Amazon. More fantasy novels coming soon!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all-around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . . You can also find her on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or at her website.

9 comments:

  1. Ralene,

    Thank you for this great list of benefits from going to a writer's conference. There are many benefits way beyond what people normally see. For years I've attended conferences and also gone as an agent or editor. You meet key people in your life at these events (on many different levels). It is important to follow-up and take action on what happens. Some people wonder how I've written more than 60 books for traditional publishers. It's not that I'm the best writer in the room--but I am one of the more persistent. If an editor asks me to send them something I send it. Not that means I get published but I do give myself the possibility. I find only about 10% of the people I ask to send me their material will actually send it--yes that small of a group. Will you be one of these types of writers?

    Terry
    Straight Talk From The Editor, 18 Keys To A Rejection-Proof Submission

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    1. I hear that so often from agent/editors, about writers not following up or sending in their material. I'll admit in my early years, I was guilty of that a couple of times. Sometimes I felt my writing wasn't quite ready. Sometimes I fell behind on getting the material ready, and, by the time it was, I thought it was too late to submit. I know other writers often face the same issues. And sometimes we just get scared. Right?

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  2. I wish you would have given us a list of your ten favorite conferences to attend. This is the first time I've heard of Realm Makers. I would love to attend some Christian writers conferences. (I've only been to mystery writers conferences before.) Would love the spiritual encouragement in my writing as well.

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    1. Jackie, check out Write2ignite Conference at write2ignite.com. I liked it so much I'm now on the leadership team.

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    2. I haven't been to a wide-variety of writers conferences so much as the same few conferences multiple times. I've been to American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference 8 times and Realm Makers 7 times. Then there's a local Christian writers conference I've been to 4 times. A couple I would love to make it to some time are Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference--oh and the Serious Writers Conference. There's a couple of smaller "writers retreats" I'd love to do, like James L. Rubart's Writing Academy.

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  3. I truly enjoy writers conferences. I learn valuable information and make great contacts. New friendships and sharing the writing journey are truly blessings from these conferences.

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  4. You're such a good teacher! Thanks for sharing. I especially like the point about visiting new places. Two things I love most about writing conferences is time away and meeting new friends and you mentioned both of those.

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  5. These are all great points! My favorite is the books and making new friends.

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