Going to Writing Conferences

question

#1

So I have been hearing about writing conferences and their pitch sessions, and I was wondering which ones are the ones worth going to, if anyone knows? I know they are expensive, but it’s just something I want to put on my radar.

I want to go to one to try and network, learn, buy a book or two, meet other authors, and see if I can pitch my story to an editor or agent. I am in the U.S. on the eastern side.

I’m sort of interested in seeing if there’s one that’s worth turning into a trip. If not this year, then maybe next year.

What does the community of Wattpad know?

Also: Does doing the pitch sessions really work? I imagine they do, at least a little. Or is it a gimmick? Does anyone have any experience and/or knowledge on this?


#2

Excellent questions.

Different conferences focus on different things. Some might not have agents and pitching at all – might focus on beginners and craft. Other might have little focus on writing and a lot on trad pub. Still others might be focused more on self pub.

You have to find the conference that matches what you are looking for.

I’ve been to two (more than once, because they were local to me). One was the PNWA Conference in Seattle/Bellevue. The other was the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in central Mexico. Both were absolutely fabulous. Both had a good balance of writing and pitching.

Honestly, if I could pick only one of those, I’d pick PNWA. It really is an amazing conference.

Pitch sessions are more likely to result in requests for fulls than cold queries. I don’t think, though, they’re any more likely to result in offers of representation. Why? More requests because agents admit it’s harder to turn someone down when they’re face-to-face. But ultimately, it’s still the writing and the story that count.

The one bonus a conference can offer, though, is that some agents that attend are not open to querying any other way.


#3

I attended some Romance conferences when they were here in New York and they are a lot of fun. The people are all very friendly and you get to meet the editors and the writers and hang out with them. They also have seminars and all kinds of other activities. It’s a good way to get to know people in the business and I found them extremely polite and friendly, and helpful. They like to have a good time, so if you do, too, you will fit right in. I already knew a couple of the authors who lived nearby and was able to meet more with whom I am still on friendly terms.

They used to have an annual one for Mystery writers, which is also a very good one.They probably still have it. Some of the authors are musicians and they would always book a club for a night and play in a band. Lots of fun.

I’d recommend going to any conference or convention you can. Knowing people in the business can be very helpful to you.


#4

The only proper feedback I’ve gotten on my query was from agents/editors in pitch sessions at writing conferences. It’s annoying to have to pay for that privilege, especially when it’s not cheap. But apparently I’m getting better at this because last year was the first time I was invited to send partials and fulls instead of hearing the awkward “no thank you but lovely to meet you”. ;D

I should add that conferences are good for more than pitching opportunities. You can meet people and make friends (aka connections lol). For me it was great to meet other people who write LGBT+ romances. :slight_smile: And the panels can teach you a lot about tropes and current trends.

For Australian writers wanting to pitch:
Romance - the annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference (Melbourne this year).
PB/MG/YA - the annual CYA Conference (Brisbane).
Genre fiction - GenreCon which was last held in 2017. It’s meant to be every 2 years I think.


#5

I attended DFWCon in Dallas/Ft. Worth for two years in a row. The conference was worth every penny. Chuck Wendig is the keynote speaker this year. I’m bummed that I won’t be able to attend.

Last year, they offered a pitch practice the afternoon before the conference. There’s also a Mixer the night before. On Saturday night, they usually have a social attended by the agents. Last year, I sat with an agent for probably twenty minutes, just talking to her. Nice person. I also spent two minutes pitching to another agent (she requested the full) and then the rest of the time talking to her about being an agent. The year before that, I ran into an agent on the elevator. He was in a hurry and I didn’t want to pitch him, but I did say, “Hey, you’re so-and-so. I honestly just wanted to meet you. I was your 28th follower on Twitter.”

Besides the great classes, I feel like I’ve made wonderful connections. I wish that I didn’t live half the world away from them now. I’d highly recommend DFWCon.