Writers conferences aren't as scary as you might think

March 20, 2017


For the introverted writer, going to a writers conference where you pitch your story to agents and publishers might be a frightening thought. After all, what if they say no? What if they say your story is no good? 


The first writers conference I went to was OCCWC in Orange County, California. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous. At the time I was writing screenplays and one of the conference teachers was an accomplished screenwriter. My goal was to pitch my "groundbreaking idea" to her and wait for the applause (and brace for the boos). The response I got was neither. Instead, she offered some good, common sense advice. I'd written a fantasy story and she said something along the lines of, "Have you ever thought of turning this into a novel? A publisher would be far more willing to spend thousands on an unknown writer than a production company would be to spend millions."


Sound advice.


It didn't accomplish the expectations I had in mind, it provided something better. Wise advice from an industry professional that steered my writing career in a better, more realistic direction. This was the first of many positive take aways I've received from writing conferences.


Another example would be the Mount Hermon writing conference I went to several years ago. At this point in my writing journey, I'd turned my screenplay into a fantasy novel and went to the conference with the goal of snagging a publisher and/or agent. I had a few bites and followed up with some of the interested parties but ultimately, the publishing score didn't happen at that conference. What did happen was learning amazing pearls of writing wisdom from the classes and workshops and connecting with other writers.


In fact, a few of the speculative fiction writers I met at that conference have turned into a writers critique group that I'm happy to still be a part of several years later. I have received invaluable advice from this critique group over the years and always feel so lucky to have met them at the conference.


Bottom line is, the positive take aways from writers conferences might not be what you intended but they might just be what you needed.


So, cowboy up introverted writers of the world. There's career changing things happening at writers conferences every year. Don't miss out, it's worth the risk!




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