Making the Most of Your Conference
by Editor Rochelle Bailey
Writing isn't a clinical, linear sort of career. On the surface it may seem as though every writer has the same goal – publication – but the specifics of that goal and the best path to reach it are unique to every individual. So when you've made the commitment to attend a writer's conference like the SCWW, how do you know how to make the conference programming and opportunities work for you?
First, be honest about where you are. Have you written part of a book, a whole book, or a whole series of books? Then be honest about where you want to go. Do you need to see your name in print on your own bookshelf, on the bookstore's shelf, or on the NY Times bestseller stand? Your answers determine the best sessions and classes for what you need right now, and what you'll look for as you progress.
If you're just getting started, stick with classes that will strengthen your writing craft. Classes on characters, plotting, conflict, and even manuscript formatting will be invaluable and help you rise above the 'doorstop' fate of so many first novels. And by fitting in a slush fest or query letter session you'll learn a lot just by listening to the feedback.
If you've been writing and submitting those manuscripts, but you keep getting rejected without a request, it's time to hone your query and synopsis skills, double check the market trends, and renew your enthusiasm with a craft session or two. Make time to tune in to other author's who've been there to see what advice you can glean from their experience.
If you've sold a book or two already, but you want to start swimming in a bigger pond or different genre, focus on promotion and marketing sessions, visit a genre or craft session, and use your time to network professionally with agents and editors.
However you decide to spend your time at a conference, always keep an open mind, a smile on your face, and your business cards handy.
Rochelle Bailey is the acquiring editor and director of Quake, the YA division of Echelon Press. Writing as Regan Black, she is also the award winning author of the Shadows of Justice series and several short stories geared toward teen and adult readers.
Currently residing in the Lowcountry of South Carolina she balances editing and writing by managing a household of engineers of all ages and an impressive domestic zoo starring two retired greyhounds, two cats, and three quirky birds.