Why I Go To Writers’ Conferences
Most people think agents go to writers’ conferences strictly to find new clients to represent. For some agents this might be the case, but it’s not true for me, nor is it true for most of the agents and editors I know. There are five main reasons most of us go to conferences:
1. To meet the people behind the queries.
At a conference, I can make personal connections with writers, hear them talk about their books, and learn more than I could in a 400-word query letter. Yes, this is part of the process of finding new authors to represent, and it’s one reason we’re there.
2. To meet with my clients.
Most of my clients are spread across the country and we have few opportunities to get together in person. A conference is a great place to do this, especially if both the agent and the author have other reasons for being there. There are some conferences where I’ll be able to get together with more than one client, such as ACFW, at which (this year) there will be 45 authors represented by Books & Such, 20 of them repped by me.
3. To meet with editors and other industry professionals.
In order for conferences to be worthwhile (cost effective) for us, we use them as prime networking opportunities. I meet editors to whom I might sell a book someday, and strengthen relationships with those I already know. I pitch them books I’m currently shopping and get their response in person. Several times this face-to-face conversation has led to a sale for one of my clients. At this week’s ACFW conference, I have 17 such networking meetings scheduled.
4. To give back to the writing community.
Most agents and editors understand how difficult it is to be a writer pursuing publishing these days, and we recognize the value of helping authors get informed, learn more about writing and marketing, and meet the
ogres agents and editors to see that we’re just regular folks. So we go to conferences to help writers do all of that. We don’t believe in the faceless, mysterious, scary publishing paradigm of the past. We want to be accessible.
5. To maintain visibility in our industry.
Yes, there can be a bit of self-promotion involved, simply in the act of showing up. We want writers and publishers to know who we are and what we’re doing.
What are YOUR top reasons for going to conferences? (Or wanting to go, if you’ve never been.)