Monday, May 22, 2017

Not my (current) cup of tea

Actually, the title is a little misleading because I have been to a few conferences and haven’t written off the idea of attending again.  As with anything, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly--though I won’t even touch the latter.

Generically speaking…

There are, however, a few generic reasons why I haven’t turned up recently.
      After a while, there’s nothing new under the sun--that is, speakers tend to rehash the same topics with their own twist.
·        Some speakers approach advice with the “my way or no way” attitude.
·        Some (not all conferences) sponsor contests, and the same people tend to take home the prizes every year--which tends to discourage newbies who need some encouragement.
·        Conferences develop a “following” for various reasons and occasionally become cliquish.
·        Attendees can easily develop an “It’s all about me” attitude rather than “We’re all in this together”.

Specifically speaking…

·        Large conferences often have large prices, so one has to weigh the ultimate value of attendance against the monetary outlay. Expenses include transportation, lodging (usually at upscale hotels), apparel (for social events), and meals other than those provided by the conference fees.
·        Large conferences can be somewhat inaccessible for the ordinary run-of-the-mill author who writes more for pleasure than profit but who would enjoy mingling with others who write and learning from them.
·        Many people attend these big-name conferences to be “seen” rather than to learn.

Personal preferences

·        One-day conferences hosted by local writing groups are smaller with an opportunity to meet most of the people there. Three or four “keynote” speakers with time limits often offer surprisingly new insights into all facets of writing.
·        Local in-state conferences offer the advantage of being more easily accessible--i.e. by car rather than the necessity to fly. If you’re taking advantage of having a free or low-cost book table for sales exposure or networking, it’s difficult to lug one’s wares on a plane.
·        Well-attended but not over-crowded conferences make it easier to meet folks and establish supportive relationships.

Conferences to check out

·        18 Writer’s Conferences Every Writer Should Attend (dated 2016 but probably annual events)

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