From April 23-25.
I don’t know much about writer’s conferences; I’ve only been to this one. Nevertheless, I get the impression that good things are happening.
One, I’ve worn more off the edges of Am-I-Really-A-Writer panic at this conference (and getting ready for this conference) than anywhere else, except for actually selling stuff. Shit yeah, I’m a writer. I can pitch. I can debate. I can talk to big-name writers (except Jeffrey Deaver, who was just too damned monopolized by his Biggest Fans to get a word in edgewise, not that they noticed, with their big sparkly, puppy-dog eyes) without wigging out. I can get up an read my stuff in front of other people; I can have it read out loud. These things tie my stomach up in knots, but there you go.
Two, I’ve made friends there, from the kind you figure you’ll know for a while to the ones you know will cheer when you get published (rather than seethe with jealousy). And it feels good when people ask you whether they should bother pitching to an agent that yes, it’s worth it, even if they don’t want to see your book. (Don’t forget–they will be making money off you. You have to interview them even more than they interview you. What’s their track record? What’s the last big thing they’ve sold? How well do they negotiate foreign rights? What do they think about e-books? Are they giving you good vibes? How do they handle themselves around other agents? Are they more polite to other agents than they are to people who look up to them?)
Three, the workshops. I’ve had so many AHA! moments that I won’t bother to detail them. (The workshop list is finally up.) The only addition I want is more talk about the business side of the house. How to negotiate a contract. Taxes. How to figure out whether a project is worth it or not. How to do freelance writing and not get screwed too often. You never see too much of that.
Yeah, the food’s comically bad (but okay for general conference food). Yeah, there will be at least one writer/agent/editor who bursts your idolatric bubble every year (no names). Yeah, it sucks coming up with a decent pitch. Yeah, people will argue about self-publishing until the cows come home, and it gets freakin’ old. Yeah, it’s an embarrassingly large chunk of change to plop down if you don’t have a manuscript ready to pitch or someone to pitch to.
But when I hear people aren’t going, it just makes me sad.