Friday, March 19, 2021

All Because I Went to a Writers Conference - The Value of Investing in Your Writing Career

by Crystal Bowman

The year was 2006, and I had been in the publishing world for ten years. I was writing for two major publishing houses, had thirty-five children’s books published with five bestselling titles. Though I had a pretty strong resume, I felt like my writing life was at a standstill with no contracts on the horizon. I had heard about writers conference but had never attended one, and the more I learned about writing, the more I knew there was more to learn (like not using a word three times in one sentence.) 


I was living in Florida at the time, and the Florida Christian Writers Conference was a four-hour drive north, so I attended as a conferee. It changed my life! That may sound dramatic, but it really did. 


I attended the continuing classes on writing for children. I went to every workshop that I could fit into my schedule. I attended every general session, met with editors, and ate lunch with other writers—many of whom became my friends. I learned what networking is all about

It is not possible for me to list all the ways I benefitted from attending that first conference, but I'm going to share a few.

Benefits from Attending a Writers Conference

An editor from a “new-to-me” publishing house took one of my proposals and I eventually wrote six books for them. I also contributed to their seasonal program books for churches. 


I met an editor from Focus on the Family and have been writing for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine for more than 10 years.


I submitted a proposal to teach a workshop at FCWC, and for the next several years I taught writing workshops at the conference. I eventually taught the continuing classes on writing for children.


Being on staff at FCWC opened doors for me to teach at writers’ conferences in several other states.


A writer from one of my children’s workshops asked me to edit her story, and that launched my freelance editing service.


A return on my investment.

Business analysts study the ROI (return on investment), to help a client know if a service or event is worth the time and money. Will they receive more than they invest? For me it’s a giant YES. Writers’ conferences are not inexpensive, but the return on my investment was— and still is—immeasurable. 


A way to help other writers.

I used to break out in a sweat when someone wanted advice on how to get published. Any published author can relate to this. I think people look at writers and assume: Well, if you figured out how to get published, so can I.  I love mentoring and coaching writers and I have a service for that. But for those who want an on-the-spot-easy answer, I no longer offer lengthy explanations and feel obligated to help them figure it out. When someone asks me how they can break into publishing, I reply with five powerful words: Go to a writers conference!

And then I smile and say no more. See? I told you it changed my life! 


All Because I Went to a Writers Conference - encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children and four nonfiction books for women. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. She loves going to schools to teach kids about poetry. She also speaks at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups and teaches workshops at writers’ conferences. When she is not writing or speaking, she enjoys going for walks, working out at the gym, and eating ice cream. She and her husband live in Michigan and have seven huggable grandkids. 


  1. Love this! Going to a writers conference changed my life in more ways I can explain. Great post.

  2. Crystal,

    There is an old saying in publishing, "Who you know is almost as important as what you know." Attending a writer's conference helps you make connections and relationships that you would never have without that event. Great article and encouragement. I've made incredible relationships at conferences that have lasted for decades.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. That is so true, Terry. Most of my relationships with writers and editors came from attending writers conferences.

  3. Great advice and encouragement. Every significant relationship I have been blessed with and every significant step I have taken as a writer can be traced back to attending a writers conference or participating in a writing community. Always worth the investment.

  4. Your article is so encouraging, Crystal, Thank you for sharing!

    1. You are welcome. I am glad you found it helpful.

  5. Crystal, This is so true, I am new to this journey. Last year I attended Zoom seminars, certainly not the same as in person, but even this was so helpful. I look forward to attending in person again. My first experience was Renew hosted by Lucinda Secrest McDowell and Rachel Britton. Everything you said is true. It has already changed my life in such positive ways. Thanks for this encouragement!

  6. I love writers conferences. I have learned wonderful information about writing and have found meaningful relationships while networking.

  7. Yes, Crystal! You are right! I can say the same thing--going to conferences has changed me as a person and a writer. You are always an inspiration to me. Thank you for your friendship, mentorship, and co-writing fun! Maybe one day, we'll attend a conference together! Love you.

  8. I couldn't agree more. A couple years ago I actually met you, Crystal, when I attended your session on Rhythm and Rhyme at my very first writer's conference and am so grateful for the knowledge you gave me that day. I'm attending a conference right now via Zoom and probably should be paying attention, but noticed Glenys posted a link to this article on our conference's Facebook group page, so I wanted to read it :) Thank you!