Dear Miss Snark,
If the first novel is finished, money is a slight issue, and I have no idea (besides reading books from the public library and fine websiteslike yours) about the querying process, is pinching my pennies for a conference like this worth it?

and this

On to my question: what do you think of conferences, especially national conferences? Worth the mula for writers or not? Pure torture for editors/agents? Overblown hype?

Some writer friends and I were debating the merits of the national RWA conference vs. the Romantic Times convention. Some said agents/editors prefer the RT convention because it's more relaxed.

The NYC conference costs $495, and it's limited to 45 authors and they screen who gets in. The editors are all with major houses, and it sounds like if you've got something good they can introduce you to an agent. Those are all very good things.

It's going to set you back a wad of dough. Is it worth it? I can't answer that. It could be the place you get a wake up call, or it could be a place you really connect with an editor. Only going there will answer that question.

Which brings me to the Romance writers conferences. I know agents who love them. I know agents who go regularly and have found clients there I think . I hate em. I can't stand the fact that there's hardly any screening and people who have no clue are led to believe or hope that all they need to do is perfect a 2 minute pitch to interest an agent in their work. That's utter bullshit. You have to write well. I don't care if you are George Clooney's plumber's sister in law with a key to the cabana, if you can't write well I'm not signing you up.

I did a long tirade about conferences earlier in the blog.

They are a good place to meet other writers, and perhaps critique group members, and maybe some face to face with an editor or agent. Mostly though in those little 15 minute pods of time, I don't remember my own name at the end of the day, let alone yours.

Are conferences worth it? the only way to know is to go. If you're going to one though, that New York one looks pretty good.


Anonymous said...

I applied for the NYC conference. Asked about my genre they didn't have horror, so that can't be a good sign. Asked for my bio, I said horror writer. Hmmm...oh, and I sent my synopsis with a note about how much you loved it.

christine fletcher said...

I've gone to 2 conferences of the anyone-can-attend type. The first one was worth it because it forced me to craft and practice my pitch, which helped tremendously when writing my query letter -- I knew what got a good response and what didn't. It taught me how to research agents. It taught me that agents and editors are mostly kind and mostly generous and very, very passionate about books. And I met an editor who, while not interested in taking on my ms, ended up becoming a friend.

The 2nd conference taught me that one conference was enough.

Ray said...

I think BookExpo America (http://www.bookexpoamerica.com) is a lot of fun. It's targeted to book sellers, but authors can go there to pitch books and do some networking. I brought a book proposal and got 15 names of acquisition editors interested in my book subject, which I then was able to share with a my eventual agent and get my non-fiction published.)

If you go bring an extra suitcase. You can get a LOT of free books.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy conferences and have had networking success, including meeting my future agent. But my best contacts weren't made during those scheduled pitch sessions. They happened at dinner, in the bar, in the hotel lobby.

If your main goal at a conference is to pitch and you're comfortable selling your story and yourself (with in-person pitching, you're a big part of the package, so be sharp and ready to answer questions about yourself and your project), conferences can pay off. If you're a shrinking violet, save your money.

The writing still matters no matter how well you hit it off or how many drinks you have at the bar together - my now agent didn't like the ms. I pitched but liked my writing enough to see more, and a year later signed me for the next project.

I attended BEA last year and got a ton of free books, but didn't see much opportunity for pitching agents. My agent was there but was too busy pitching editors, so we met outside BEA. I found it mostly to be a venue for pubs to pitch booksellers, agents to pitch editors, and published authors to pitch their books from the booths of their pubs, who invited them for that purpose.

Anonymous said...

Trying to find a web site for the NYC Conference for $495. Google is not giving me anything. Do you have an actual name for this conference? And what do you think of the Maui Writer's Conference?

Anonymous said...

Shawguides.com lists all types of conferences all over the world. It also lists classes, etc...

My mother was talking to a friend/famous published author. He said he used to do conferences, workshops, etc. for eleven years. Nothing.

The best advice he ever got he passed on...Write a million words, nothing replaces experience at the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

I went to an RWA convention some years back. While impressed with their level of organization and the opportunity to sell books at my table for 3 hours I never made enough royalties on those sales to cover the expense. (I ended up buying my unsold books to prevent them from going back to the publisher as returns.)

It was a tax write-off from the start. I didn't bother pitching ideas to the Powers That Be, knowing it to be pointless (though there were plenty of other hopefuls toiling away). Instead I found myself to be the target of a pitch. One of the male cover models (looking for work) came up to indicate he'd be perfect for the cover of my next book. My explanation that I had no control over that didn't fly. Though pretty, he had the brains of a rutabega.

I kinda wish he'd made his pitch the first night of the convention instead of 10 minutes before I had to leave. He might have gotten lucky in another sense.

Anonymous said...

This is the conference she is referring to


Anonymous said...

The thing to keep in mind about the RWA conferences verses the Romantic Times conferences, is that RWA is a legitimate writer's organization who helps you to understand the genre as well as the publishing industry.

Their national conference is huge and very insightful, but for meeting and greeting agents and eds, the local chapter conferences are actually better because they are smaller.

RT is a magazine. The magazine caters to romance readers. It allows authors to purchase the front cover for publicity or purchase ads, in which case, they'll run an interview or bio about you. Not a whole heck of a lot of journalism going on here.

They also have lists of the latest books each month and reviews on those books. Some of those reviewers are good, some (I swear) never read the books.

Somewhere along the line RT began to fancy itself as a writer's magazine.

RT's conferences are a mish mash of Vegas-style mindless cover models prancing around in kilts or other kinky attire, writers who feel they have to be there to greet their readership, and readers who feel because they can hang out with their favorite authors that makes them a writer too.

Along the way, the industry feels they can't piss off RT because at the core of it RT is major publicity for the industry.

But, I know first hand, some of those who attend the RT conferences would rather be home with a quart of gin plucking their bikini hairs with a ferriers tool.

God, I love this Anonymous button.

Bernita said...

And God, I love some of the clever comments people make.
"plucking their bikini hairs with a ferriers tool."
Laughed myself sick.

Miss Snark said...

ok first of all it's FARRIER with an A despite the fact it derives from ferrier the latin word for horseshoe or iron.

second, if you can pluck your bikini line with the same tool they use to pull horseshoes, I'd like to watch.

Third, gin comes in pails for those serious enough to drink large quantites.

And fourth, you're exactly right describing my sentiment.

Eva said...

I've been accepted to and will be attending the NYC conference referred to in this blog thread. If anyone else is attending, please let me know, I'd love to meet up with you there.