by Sheryl Lister
Imagine standing in a large ballroom filled with over 2,000 agents, editors, authors and aspiring authors. Sound overwhelming? It definitely was for me when I attended my first literary conference. But, if you are an author or aspiring to be one, attending a literary conference is one of the best investments you can make in your career for several reasons. I’ll highlight a few:
1. Networking – From agents, editors, publishers and other industry professionals, you won’t find a better opportunity to meet them in person. They want to talk to attendees and, who knows, one of them may discover you and your talent. But beware, it’s probably not a good idea to approach them about your book while they’re in the restroom, standing in the buffet line or working out in a gym. Just like you, they need privacy and doing this will most likely get you a rejection on the spot.
2. Building Relationships – Let’s face it, writing is a solitary endeavor and many writers (yours truly included) are introverts. We are also misunderstood. How many of you have said to family members, “I can’t believe my secondary character is trying to take over the story,” or “These characters kept me up all night talking” and got a blank stare? Take heart, at a literary conference you will meet others just like you who ‘get it’. You’ll laugh and swap stories, but the best part is some of these encounters turn into lifelong friendships.
3. Improving Your Craft – Whether you’re just starting out as a writer, have a few books under your belt, or are trying to figure out this thing called self-publishing, most conferences have speakers who are working professionals ready to teach. They can be pretty pricey, so be sure to attend the conference(s) that fit you, even if it’s only one per year. Topics range from plotting, characterization, marketing and publishing, to getting that novella paced just right and writing the dreaded query letter and synopsis (shudders).
A word of caution: Don’t try to attend everything…you won’t be able to. Remember those relationships from number two, above? If you find two workshops you want to attend being held at the same time, you might try attending one and approaching a fellow writer and asking them to record the other one for you.
Another great investment is attending reader-based events. These retreats give readers a chance to meet and interact with authors, as well as ask those burning questions about characters you’ve always wanted to know. As an author, you get an opportunity to connect with your fans and, hopefully, make some new ones.
So, are you ready to grab a notebook, pack your suitcase and head to a conference? Good! Hope to see you there.
Meet the Author
Sheryl Lister has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She writes contemporary and inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Her first novel, Just To Be With You, earned her a 2015 Romance Slam Jam nomination for Debut Author of the Year. When she's not reading, writing or playing chauffeur, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers and bite-sized desserts. Sheryl resides in California and is a wife, mother of three and pediatric occupational therapist.
Photo from a Sept. 2015 book signing. Got to hang out with my BRAB sisters, Sharon Blount and Poetry Is My Passion. A special shoutout to Gary Shumlai.