Writers Conferences—What’s The Difference?

By: Margena Holmes

No matter what stage of writing you’re at, going to a writers’ conference can be fun and informative. I have a few conferences under my belt now, and no matter where it’s held, there is always something new presented to the attendees.

The topics presented are as different as the conference itself. Some will focus on just craft, some on marketing, some on building your readership, and everything in between. There are some for Romance writers, Mystery writers, or any writer in general. You don’t have to be a published author to attend a writers’ conference. There are many first-timers who haven’t published anything, to those with multiple books released.

Meals and Hanging Out

How each conference is run varies as much as the conference topics themselves. I know some, like Pikes Peak Writers Conference, budget for meals for all the conferees. That makes it nice as we can sit with people we know or find a whole new group of people. I also love how there is a “host” for each table, usually one of the presenters. Having meals this way makes it easy for us introverts to find a place to sit and get to know other writers more one-on-one. If you get a really fun table host, you’ll laugh your way through lunch or dinner, and get a lot of information not covered in the presentations.

Other conferences* may have lunch and dinner “on your own,” meaning you can go eat anywhere your heart desires. Doing it this way, there were times that I ate alone, as I hadn’t met anyone to hang out with, but another time I found a group of ladies who wrote in the same genre as I did and we went to lunch together and tossed around ideas. We also exchanged emails to contact each other after the conference.

Some conferences will have a formal Mixer, where you can go and mingle with other writers, and there may be a short presentation before dinner is served. Others will have an informal “Bar Con” at the end of the day where you can go if you want and not miss anything if you decline. 

Making It Fun

One writer’s conference does very informal Cosplay themes for each day, where you can dress up in costume. There is also a contest to get your picture taken with the organizer’s father.

Another fun game is getting words or phrases from the staff and writing a short story using those words or phrases. The winner is announced at the end of the conference and the story is read aloud. There have been some pretty entertaining stories!

Advantages and Disadvantages

The past couple of years with Covid have made going to conferences a little harder. Last year PPWC was held online via Zoom, and it was easy to pick the classes to attend via Schedule. The advantage of doing a conference this way is that you don’t have to travel, thus saving money, and also no lines for the restrooms between classes!

Another advantage of attending a conference online is that you may get a recording of the presentation after the conference is over. In case you missed something or had to step away from your computer, you can go back and rewatch the segment. This also helps if there are two presentations at the same time you want to see; you can go back and watch the other one later.

A disadvantage of doing the conference online is there may be more distractions at home than at the conference (though having the replay helps with this). Also, you may think, “Oh, I’ll watch it on this day,” but the day comes and other things take precedence and before you know it, two months have gone by and you haven’t watched the recording. One way around that is to put it on your schedule and don’t commit to anything else at that time (this is where having a planner comes in handy). Treat it like any other appointment that you wouldn’t skip. Your writing is worth it!

There are so many different conferences and many different ways to attend, there’s bound to be one you can sign up for. I hope to see you all at the end of April at PPWC2022! Happy writing!


Margena HolmesMargena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.


 

*There are many conferences which are held throughout the year. PPWC2022 is only one of many. Below are links to other conferences you might be interested in.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
Quills Conference
Writers’ Workshop Tour (NEW!)
Romance Writers of America
Tucson Festival of Books
Left Coast Crime

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