Fear in Writing: What next? Conference-time?

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Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What next? Conference-time?

Thank you to everyone who responded to yesterdays first ever Writing Prompt Wednesday.  I know I showed a bit of rudeness early on by saying I was disappointed in the response, and for that I want to apologize.  I realize you all have lives and responsibilities.  From that point on I tried to take the stance that even if WPWs mean only getting myself to write, they are worth it.  And that is still where I stand.  So participate if you like, and please enjoy reading the works of those who do!  I already found one new blog yesterday: Multi-coloured Imagery.

Enough said on that...What is next on my mind today?
Another new blog has popped up with a great question: if you could write up a mystery writer's wish-list, what kinds of learning opportunities would be on it?  The blog is Deadly Letters GTA and the proprietor is a new follower.  I encourage you to head over and answer the question there...
...but it brings me to another discussion here.  Conferences.  Do you enjoy them?  Do you go to them?  As a writer, what do you look for?

I attended my first writer's conference when I was barely a month into the biz.  I had an idea for a book/series and the conference happened to be in my hometown, barely ten minutes from my parents house.  Perfect: no hotel needed, childcare taken care of.  As it turned out, Killer Nashville was a great conference, both as a starter and as a mystery conference in general.  I highly recommend it and will be going back this year (guest of honor will be Jeffery Deaver).  But, this year I'll be looking for very different things than I did in my first experience.

On the first go around, I attended writer's craft symposiums and book PR speeches.  With a few blood spatter and psychopath spots thrown in, I rounded out the conference  mostly concentrating on the practice of becoming a writer.  But now I've been at it for a while.  And I have you all.  We discuss these things all the time!  So what will I be looking for next?  And will my choice of conferences change because of it?  I think so.

But where will I go?  I don't have a complete book to pitch.  Maybe by August, but probably not.  That actually brings up a good question: At what point do you pitch your book?  How many chapters must you have?  Fully formed idea?  First chapter all the way to last?

Ok, so lots of questions here.  Take your pick!  And which conferences are you attending this year?
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  1. Never been to a writer's conference.
    I have always heard that with fiction, only pitch a completed book.

  2. Only a complete book should be pitched- especially for fiction.

    I look forward to writer's conferences in the future- like next year. I want my work as shiny and polished as humanly possible. This year is devoted to finishing, editting, and critiques- with a splash of a professional critique near the end.

  3. But conferences are not just for pitching books. I gathered lots of useful information--like the recommendation to begin blogging! Also I met tons of people, contacts in the industry.

  4. Michele, love the writing prompt series. I'll be sure to look for it when I have a little less going on. Trying to get two manuscripts prepared for querying at the moment and reading for CPs. So, it's a bit hectic around here :)

    I haven't been to a conference yet, though I'll be going to a couple this year. Not even sure what to expect, but my education is in creative writing and literature, so I'll limit how much time I spend in writer's craft symposiums.

    Last year there was a great mystery writers' conference--Bouchercon--near me. Did you go to that? I'm not a mystery writer, so I didn't go. But I've heard excellent things about it.

  5. I love writers' conferences. So much to learn, so many interesting people to meet. I've pitched at conferences, and--not to upset the apple cart here--I've found that it's good practice for getting your thoughts in order, but it's not a particulary time-efficient way to attract an agent (few agents and pitching in person isn't ideal for writers--agents want to see how you can write, not how you can pitch). IMO, you're better off working on your query and sending it out to a targeted group of agents.

    Which conferences will I be at this year? It's a busy, busy year for me! VA Festival of the Book in March, Malice Domestic at the end of April, Festival of Mystery in May, BEA in May, ALA in June, Thrillerfest in July, (probably) Bouchercon in October (Carolina is right, it's a great conference).

  6. I've never been to one. I like Transactional Analyst Conferences so think I would like them - getting together with like-minded people has to be good doesn't it. But time and dough issues have not allowed it. I go to Halifax's Word on the Street event which is a bit of a writer and readers' conference. Love it!

  7. Carol- I didn't go to Bouchercon because it seemed so HUGE. A little overwhelming for someone so new in the biz. Maybe in a couple of years. It will be interesting to hear about your experience after the conferences!

    Alan- I agree with you about the pitches, except for the fact that you get immediate feedback, which is nice. The query can be such a looooong waiting process, though it is the more quality way to go. What a full schedule you have!

    Jan- Halifax sounds great for getting readers involved and books in people's hands.

  8. I've generally heard that for fiction, the manuscript should be complete and available to submit. Nonfiction is different, but generally still a proposal should be available. Sounds like lots of opportunities for networking and learning ... Enjoy!

  9. First, thanks for the wonderful comment on my blog (and for linking to me here). Secondly, the idea of a writer's conference is wonderfully intriguing and is on my "bucket list" for 2011 or no later than 2012--budget deficit this year, I am afraid ;-)

    Now if a conference miraculously appeared in D/FW and I could finagle the time off from TJTPTB (the job that pays the bills LOL), I would do all in my power to attend--I see the value even as a fledgling writer.

    Until I can afford to travel, blogs like this help me relate, network, and learn from other writers of all genres, and that is extraordinarily important--it is camraderie that non-writers cannot provide to me.

  10. I'd love to go to a conference someday, but I'm pretty far from... a whole lot of places and the money just isn't there for flights and hotels. They sure sound fun though!

  11. Joanne- That's the general consensus, and you're right about the opportunities!

    Linda- TJTPTB sounds fascinating. :P Seriously, that's one I'm curious what it stands for! And, yes, blogs serve as great workships and networking. That goes along with one of my points--not needing the writer's craft symposiums this next time around, because I get it on here!

    Jemi- I'm with you on the money thing. Maybe when we have books to promote?

  12. Great post, Michele. I thought this would be a great time to mention that I'm a huge fan of writers conferences. For many years, I've attended anywhere from 12-16 events, annually. Of course, I'm normally there as a presenter (otherwise, who could afford to attend that many?).

    I've seen many, many success stories as a result of attending conferences, such as Malice, Killer Nashville, East of Eden, Midwest Writers Conference, Emerald Coast Writers Conference, etc. In fact, I met my current agent at a writers conference, and I pitched and sold my first book at a writers conference. Actually, I pitched that book in the time it took to unplug and wrap up the cord on my laptop between presentations. That same book went on to receive a Macavity nomination for best nonfiction mystery, and it's been a Writers Digest bestseller for quite a while.

    I can recall numerous agent/author connections that have been made during writers conferences. And I can't say enough about the networking and very, very important contacts that can be made at each event.

    Wonderful things can happen at these events, too wonderful to let pass up by not attending. For example, I once overheard an editor mention a particular manuscript I'd just finished reading for the purpose of writing a jacket blurb for the author. The publisher told one of his peers that he'd not read it, but it was somewhere in the slush pile on an interns desk. Well, I thought it was a great book and mentioned it to him (I sort of caught myself pitching this manuscript). Anyway, the author's agent called me the following Monday to thank me for selling the book! The publisher told the agent that he'd made a beeline for it when he returned to the office, read it, and wanted to publish it. This sort of thing happens all the time. It really does. But it won't happen to you if you don't attend conferences!