By Courtney Willis
Last weekend I went to a writer’s conference, and it was phenomenal! I’d attended before, but I think I had forgotten the amount of exhaustion that goes into cramming book-writing goodness into your brain. Of course you’re just sitting in a chair taking notes, so the worst you can get is a hand cramp, right? Oh no. Your mind is traveling a million light years per minute trying to understand new concepts or relearn old ones, and trying to think of how you can apply what you’re learning to one stubborn character or a few obvious plot holes.
You will pay a pretty penny for entrance and travel, and you’ll probably need another weekend just to recover, but making your writing better is always worth it. And sometimes you get to learn at the feet of famous people, and you can hear Brandon Sanderson say things like “Good writers are like chefs; they understand how ingredients work and can combine to create a new story. So be a chef, not just a cook.” Or when James Dashner says “Never take any step of success for granted. Enjoy the ride.” Talk about inspiring.
Have I convinced you to look into a writing conference yet? I’ll even make it easier by listing some of them for you. I haven’t been to any of the following conferences, so this is more like my Author Bucket List of Conferences to attend.
1. Book Expo America, Chicago (May 11-13, 2016)
This one unfortunately just ended, and it’s more of a book convention than a writer’s conference anyway (which is still fantastic). Still, it’s a place where authors come to make their books known, so if you’re looking to bust into the publishing industry, this one is definitely worth looking into.
2. Romance Writers of America Conference, San Diego (July 13-16, 2016)
I’m literally crying right now because I know I won’t be able to attend this year, but I really can’t think of a better place to have a writer’s conference than in San Diego. It’s such a romantic, magical place with a fantastic culture and nightlife. And as a romance writer myself, I’m sure it would do me nothing but good to bask in the San Diego sun, while chowing on some carne asada fries and pondering the fate of my latest hero and heroine. Guess I’ll have to wait till next year… when it’s at Disney World?! I accept!
3. Annual Summer Conference for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Los Angeles (July 29-August 1, 2016)
I know it says children’s books, but it includes YA too, and has actually become one of the bigger conferences for YA authors to attend. If you want to rub shoulders with some big agents and publishers, and learn from some of the best authors around, this is one you want to be at.
4. Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, NYC (Aug 12-14, 2016)
This conference covers everything: traditional publishing, indie publishing, poetry, non-fiction, short stories, novels, how to market, how to edit, how to better your craft in general, and every possible genre you can imagine. Writer’s Digest Magazine is alone something you need a subscription of, but opened up into a conference, it’s something you can’t miss.
5. Associations of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, Washington DC (February 8–11, 2017)
My creative writing professors in college would rave about this conference. Some of them attended together and returned with so much writing wisdom. Not only hearing them talk about their experiences, but also learning from the things they saw and heard at this conference really enriched my growth as a writer.
Honorable Mention: YALLFEST / YALLWEST
Another awesome book con that I want to eventually attend someday. A bunch of YA and MG authors gathering in Charleston, SC and Santa Monica, CA to talk about books and writing and publishing? Not to mention all the shows, sales, and book signings. SIGN ME UP!
Have you attended any book cons or writing conferences? Are there some I didn’t list that you’re dying to attend? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, book enthusiasts <3
(Image via oldweb.sbc.edu)