Has anyone been to a writing conference?

There’s one not to far away from me this fall. Thoughts? Experiences?

Each one is different! I’ve been to my local speculative fic one a few times, and to World Con once a few years ago. If it’s nearby and you like writing or reading, I suggest trying it out.

The main draw for me is socializing, but some places have edit sessions and workshops or even pitch sessions with small presses.

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As @thatCalamity said, each conference is different. Some focus on craft, some on getting an agent, some on indie publishing. Some feature authors, some agents and editors. Some are a little of everything!

Look at what’s offered. What sessions are available? Are they presentations or workshops? Who is teaching, and what are their qualifications? What extras are available – and how much do they cost? Do some googling and see how people have felt about the conference in the past.

I’ve been to several conferences and find them loads of fun and absolutely INVALUABLE. But I wouldn’t be happy if I were wanting to meet with an agent but the sessions were all about beginner aspects of craft.


This one has pitch sessions that you pay for individually…you have to select the agent/publisher you want to pitch to, which seems a little stressful. I would enjoy meeting people, but it isn’t inexpensive.

I just wonder if the agents who come are serious? I mean, I live in Hawaii…

You are right; I should look through the sessions more carefully.

If you’re talking about the conference I think you’re talking about, it’s AMAZING. And yes, the agents are serious. Sure, it’s Hawaii, but they are missing work, and they generally have to cover a huge chunk of their own expenses.

I’ve never seen any pitch sessions require extra money, just being quick at the sign up sheet. I would be wary of paying to pitch to a publisher, but workshops or one on one coaching sessions sometimes cost extra.

I have. Some conferences offer a “free” one with registration (with additional ones available for a fee). Others have an additional charge for all pitch sessions. The money helps the conference cover the travel and expenses of the people they invite.

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The one in Kauai? Have you been to it?

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I’ve not been to a conference as most seem to be in the States, which is an ocean away for me. But the ones I found interesting did ask for money to pitch. It really depends what one wants to get out of it. Trying to find an agent on a face to face basis is probably a better approach, but one needs to be really, and i mean really, well prepared.

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I have not been. It’s a bucket list conference for me! It’s considered a really good one though.


This makes me feel better. I thought at first it was the pubs who were taking the fee at first which flagged as ‘vanity press no thank you’.

No, it’s the conference to cover expenses. They do pay people who attend (usually), but at most it’s airfare and hotel. The speakers and industry people usually have to pony up for food (and time off and any extracurricular sight seeing).

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Yeah, I’m familiar with the guest/invitee packages (and the variance they can have) from the comic/cosplay realm of conventions. I’ve also never seriously looked at the pitch sessions at the larger writing cons because I’ve not had a finished MS to pitch in time, or the publisher is very small and I’d prefer to aim a littler higher at first.

All good to know though!

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I always spoke to agents rather than publishers too – same reason. Some conferences do NOT require you to have a finished manuscript and will let you pitch as practice or just use the time to pick the brain of the agent. You would want to state up front in the session, though, what you’re doing.


Oh I’m kind of excited if it’s supposed be a good one! Just a lot of pressure if I do the pitch sessions, but why not, right?

No pressure – really. Agents are just people with jobs in publishing. They love conferences NOT because they think they’ll find clients there, but because they get a chance to work one-on-one with people, to give feedback and advice.

They’re not expecting you to do a perfect verbal pitch. They’re kind and understanding and patient. They’ll be thrilled if you give them a bit of information, and then let them ask questions. Have a conversation. Be friendly!

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An anecdote this conversation just made me remember…

Like most writers I have researched various agents through the years. I’ve made a list of ones who represented books like mine, who share similar interests, etc. that I think would be Dream Agents.

One of my dream agents attended the last conference I attended. I was soooo excited. I couldn’t wait to pitch to her. But…

I attended the sessions she taught and the panels she (and other agents) were on, and I realized that she doesn’t have the attitude I want. She’s staunchly traditional publishing. I want to do a combination of traditional and indie, depending on the book. I want to be open to knew ideas and really be willing to take risks and color outside the lines. I realized that she wasn’t suitable for me AT ALL.

Fortunately I met a different agent there who has exactly the attitude I want. She and I hit it off, and she wants to see my WIP when it’s done.


The pitch sessions will amaze you. The agent will zero in on your MS’s weakness in about ten seconds. With that business out of the way, you chat about industry or writing craft.

The other panels and talks should be excellent, too. Get sleep, drink water, absorb EVERYTHING.

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Well that’s somewhat horrifying! :grinning: