In my last post on June 12th, I talked about how I met my agent through a conference. I believe that conferences are the best way to meet an agent. So today I thought I'd talk about, well, conferences.
I've been to quite a few, so I think I can speak with some authority about them. Here's a list of the conferences I've been to, and the pros and cons of each.
Surrey International Writers Conference (Surrey, BC)
Hands-down, the best conference I've attended. I've been numerous times, though I haven't been back in a few years. What's great about this conference is that it makes the editors and agents very accessible to all the writers, with ongoing pitch sessions and critique opportunities throughout the entire conference. They also get the who's-who of the bestseller lists: Diana Gabaldon, Jack Whyte and Anne Perry are staples every year. The workshops are usually top-notch, and they cater to all genres, from romance and mystery to travel writing. The downside is the cost, particularly now that the exchange rate with the Canadian dollar isn't so much in our favor anymore.
Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Conference (Los Angeles, CA & New York, NY)
SCBWI is a great organization to belong to, especially on a local level. And their conference is a great place to schmooze and hang out with other YA or MG authors. I've attended their LA conference for the past two years and some of the speakers were outstanding, particularly Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, and Judy Blume. (Judy Freaking Blume, people! That was a highlight.) But I'm not the biggest fan of the format of the conference; half the day is devoted to keynote speeches, and then broken out into workshops. I prefer hands-on, informative workshops over the speeches because I feel like I'm really getting my money's worth. And this conference isn't cheap. Still, it's a great social event, and since writing can be so solitary, there's something really wonderful about that.
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference (Denver, CO)
This was the first writers conference I ever went to, and I think it's a great one for beginning writers. It makes agents and editors accessible for pitch sessions, and it gets a good roster of speakers. I've been twice, and the second time I was further along in my career so I didn't feel I got as much out of it as the first time. Which is why I think it's great for beginning writers. Plus, it's not nearly as expensive as some of the other conferences I'm listing here.
Historical Novel Society North American Conference (changes locations)
This is a British organization that holds a conference in North America every year; the next one is in June 2013 in Florida. This is the conference that I met my agent through, so it holds a special place in my heart. Obviously, it's devoted to historical novelists, with workshops on 19th-century costuming and how to stage a battle scene. At this conference, writers ask each other, "What period do you write?" It's kind of like ComiCon for the history nerd.
These are the four biggest conferences I've been to (each of them more than once). This year I'm also attending the YA Day at RWA Nationals, since it's practically in my backyard this year. RWA (Romance Writers of America) Nationals is one of the biggest conferences is existence, but I've never been since, technically, I don't write romance. But with so many romance publishers having YA imprints nowadays, the conference has become very YA-friendly and now has a day devoted to YA. I'll be attending with another Downtown YA blogger - Anne Van - so we'll report back.
And if any of our readers have other conference information and advice to share, don't be shy! Some of the conferences listed above are coming up soon, so don't delay if you want to attend!
Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond. Her debut novel, WINTER FALLS, will be released in 2014 by Medallion Press. She's
represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary
Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter
Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer &
Hurley (after the LOST characters). Yeah, she's a geek. Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!