What You Get At A Wring Conference

I’m off to Portland, OR, for the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference tomorrow, so I’m posting Monday’s stuff a day early. The conference is a whopping four days, but I can only afford to go for two. Since I’ll be gone and ultra busy, there won’t be a Wednesday post this week. However, there will be a dandy one on Friday when I relate some of the awesome stuff learn, and it may leak over into next week’s posts, too. Since I’m gearing up for this wondrous occasion, I thought it only fitting that I talk about conferences in today’s post.

Conferences are fabulous for all writers, no matter your place in the learning curve. Randy Ingermanson likes to classify writers by class: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. A senior is someone who’s learned the craft and is published. If you’re not published, you’re in one of the other three categories. Pop on over to his site and do the quick questionnaire if you’re dying to know which one you are. I’ll wait for you.
As far as conferences go, it doesn’t matter which one you are, because everyone can benefit. It’s my opinion that conferences are best for newbies (freshman) and those ready to break into publishing but haven’t yet (juniors). The freshmen get all the classes on craft and learn to polish their writing into a publishable state. Juniors have the opportunity to pitch their work to editors and agents. But again, everyone benefits because of the networking: the published, the teachers, the newbies, those that have never been, those who go all the time. It’s an opportunity to build community with other writers.
For what you get, conferences are worth the expense. The word expense is spot-on, because conferences are expensive. I can only afford one a year, and it’s a small one. I usually attend a Seattle conference. This year I skipped it so I could go to the Portland one–but my money only got me two days. If it’s not too much of a financial burden, I encourage all writers to try to attend at least one conference in their lifetime. And once you’ve been to one, you want to go to them all. If only I were independently wealthy…
I enjoy the classes, but the part I love the most is stalking meeting famous people. Well, maybe not world famous, but they’ve published books I like, or they’re agents I’ve queried, and I want to meet them. Randy Ingermanson will be there (I’m signed up for his marketing courses). I’m also looking forward to meeting Jeff Gerke.  He and I have worked together via email, but I’ve never met him in person. (He’s the guy behind WhereTheMapEnds and Marcher Lord Press.) I love shameless name-dropping. Here are more people I’ll meet and eat lunch with: James Rubart, Karen BallChip MacGregor  Jill Williamson  Mick Silva  Susan May Warren, and Nick Harrison  Some of these people I’ve already met at previous conferences, and it’ll be fun to play the “do you remember me?” game. No, just kidding. I don’t expect any of them to remember me (although Jeff may recognize my name, but I won’t hold my breath). For the first time ever, I don’t have a novel to pitch (that’s now my AGENT’S job–boy, do I love that), but that won’t stop me from introducing myself to all the editors and agents I can find in the hopes that they’ll be able to put my face and my name together when they receive my manuscript from my agent. (Yes, I’m an introvert, and yes, I’m typically shy. I manage to put all that behind me for the benefits, but if you watch me closely, you’ll see me retreating to quiet corners frequently to recharge my inner batteries and de-stress.)
Those are the three best things about conferences (classes, networking, meeting famous people), in my opinion. What do you think, loyal readers: are conferences worth your time, effort and cash? What’s your favorite thing to do at conferences? What do you dislike? Please share with the group.

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