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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Once again, I have been up for hours putting time into learning this industry. It's been hectic juggling educating myself about self-publishing/marketing and developing my novels. My goal for today is to learn how writers conferences will benefit me and locating conferences specific to my genre.

So what are the benefits and how can I locate the right ones? How much are tickets usually?

Thanks,

ALL INPUT IS HIGHLY APPRECIATED

- Connor S. Francis

Per Forum Decorum, we ask people to limit caps, thanks, including in subjects.
 

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Direct benefit? Hard to say. Though some offer chances to get your work workshopped by professionals, which especially when starting out can be super beneficial for craft. Indirectly, they can be a good place to make friends with fellow writers and other publishing industry pros which could pay off down the line in terms of creating a professional network. However, if you go purely to try to sell sell sell your books or yourself, you'll end up disappointed I think. People can smell desperation or fake-friending a mile off. The best networking, in my opinion, is done organically.

So... my advice to someone who wants to start going to conventions or conferences is to figure out what you want. Do you want something writer-focused with craft and business panels to attend? Do you want a fan-focused thing where you'll just hopefully get to share your love of X genre or whatever with like-minded people? A mix of the two? Just depends.
 

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Annie B said:
Direct benefit? Hard to say. Though some offer chances to get your work workshopped by professionals, which especially when starting out can be super beneficial for craft. Indirectly, they can be a good place to make friends with fellow writers and other publishing industry pros which could pay off down the line in terms of creating a professional network. However, if you go purely to try to sell sell sell your books or yourself, you'll end up disappointed I think. People can smell desperation or fake-friending a mile off. The best networking, in my opinion, is done organically.

So... my advice to someone who wants to start going to conventions or conferences is to figure out what you want. Do you want something writer-focused with craft and business panels to attend? Do you want a fan-focused thing where you'll just hopefully get to share your love of X genre or whatever with like-minded people? A mix of the two? Just depends.
What Annie said, look at what you want from a convention or a writers conference.

A literary sci-fi con like our local OryCon here in Portland has a wide variety of panels on writing and publishing, as well as a writers workshop. (Full disclosure--I'm currently running the OryCon writers workshop as well as helping with the writing and publishing tracks ;) At the Spokane Worldcon last summer there was a self-publishing track I attended, which was pretty good, especially the marketing panel Annie herself was on :)

Sci-fi cons are also great places to meet other writers and authors, at the bar, various parties etc.

Some writers conferences like our own Willamette Writers here in Portland have a robust self-publishing tracks, while other writers conferences are still focused on traditional publishing, so check out the conference programming schedule online before you sign up.
 

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I want to chime in on this too...

The hardest thing for me to realize is that the biggest % of the Conferences I've been to - follow the traditional publishing model - ONLY!

Each (and I've been to 11 in the past year) - has the basic author talks about craft and how to get an agent and what to watch out for in contracts etc etc etc. This is the usual type of content for a Conf. There are also lots and lots of others tho - speakers from Agencies who tell you what kind of a query letter to write, how NOT to make mistakes, what kind of a deal you can get for foreign publishers etc etc etc. This too seems to be prevalent...

There are also sometimes a 'mingle' event I call them - cash bar, huge room, full of writers...and that's fun actually!

There are often 'pitch sessions' where you get to sit with a real live agent and pitch your book, provide a segment, etc etc. Not all have these but they too are very common.

But the one thing I've noticed is that NOT A SINGLE one had any self-pub sessions, speakers, comments etc etc etc.

Now that had me stumped. Why not? I am positive that I out-earn 90% of the writers who are there presenting - yet the Conf organizers wanted nothing to do with self-pub. Why not I still asked?

So I offered in the last 5 cases, to lead a session on doing just what I've done at Amazon - self-publish and each and every time I got a NO.
  • Three times the NO was accompanied with a 'no one wants to learn how to DIY-they all want to learn how to sign with a Big5' type of answer.
  • Once I got a 'who're you and what makes you think you can help real writers?'
  • And the last time it was 'we did think about that, and asked, but no one thinks anyone wants to know that...."

All of which flabbergasts me - but then maybe not....

Oh - I am an accomplished speaker in my own online marketing arena, having spoken at everything from local YMCA events to national SEO conferences, keynoted, panels, SMX/SES speaker....so I know how to both plan a presi, and more importantly how to SELL that presi to a Conference...

And in each case - nope. Not interested.

That has put me off Conf for a bit - but I'll attend the SFWA one in Chicago in a few months, our big CANVENTION here in Canada and our local Ontario Writers Conf too....but I note NOT a single session at any of same on any of them OTHER than a big workshop at the SFWA in Chicago...which I'll enroll in soon as I can.

Does anyone else have any diff exp here? Is what I/we do so bloody "alien" to the Trad model that all Conf do not want to even show a writer what can be accomplished by self-pub your works?

This really bugs me...but then I'm retired and really enjoying my own writing...so the hell with them...

;D
 

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What Annie and Dale said.

You need to find a con that offers what you are looking for. Some have workshopping that can help with craft, some have panels that can help with the business side, some have both. Many have been very geared toward the traditional path in the past, though that may be changing. Back when I was attending cons regularly, I was doing it largely to make contacts in the industry and pitch to agents and editors. And I did make valuable contacts, as well as good friends, some of whom are still part of my writer's group to this day. I also had one really awful, negative experience with an editor at a con that filled me with ugly self-doubt and turned me off writing for a year. But that is a much longer story, and ends with, she no longer works in publishing, and I am still here and writing. :)

I will close with some advice I received from Jim Butcher at one of the smaller cons I attended (it was awesome - we pretty much got to hang with him all day.) He said the only difference between him and a thousand aspiring authors was his perseverance and refusal to give up. He said always keep going, keep writing, keep trying. Your craft will improve, you will eventually find your audience (or publisher, if you are talking traditional), and you will succeed. He said for every guy like him who doesn't quit, there are thousands who give up. I have never forgotten that. Even though he was talking about traditional publishing, I think it applies just as much to indie.
 

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JVRudnick said:
I want to chime in on this too...

The hardest thing for me to realize is that the biggest % of the Conferences I've been to - follow the traditional publishing model - ONLY!

Each (and I've been to 11 in the past year) - has the basic author talks about craft and how to get an agent and what to watch out for in contracts etc etc etc. This is the usual type of content for a Conf. There are also lots and lots of others tho - speakers from Agencies who tell you what kind of a query letter to write, how NOT to make mistakes, what kind of a deal you can get for foreign publishers etc etc etc. This too seems to be prevalent...

There are also sometimes a 'mingle' event I call them - cash bar, huge room, full of writers...and that's fun actually!

There are often 'pitch sessions' where you get to sit with a real live agent and pitch your book, provide a segment, etc etc. Not all have these but they too are very common.

But the one thing I've noticed is that NOT A SINGLE one had any self-pub sessions, speakers, comments etc etc etc.

Now that had me stumped. Why not? I am positive that I out-earn 90% of the writers who are there presenting - yet the Conf organizers wanted nothing to do with self-pub. Why not I still asked?

So I offered in the last 5 cases, to lead a session on doing just what I've done at Amazon - self-publish and each and every time I got a NO.
  • Three times the NO was accompanied with a 'no one wants to learn how to DIY-they all want to learn how to sign with a Big5' type of answer.
  • Once I got a 'who're you and what makes you think you can help real writers?'
  • And the last time it was 'we did think about that, and asked, but no one thinks anyone wants to know that...."

All of which flabbergasts me - but then maybe not....

Oh - I am an accomplished speaker in my own online marketing arena, having spoken at everything from local YMCA events to national SEO conferences, keynoted, panels, SMX/SES speaker....so I know how to both plan a presi, and more importantly how to SELL that presi to a Conference...

And in each case - nope. Not interested.

That has put me off Conf for a bit - but I'll attend the SFWA one in Chicago in a few months, our big CANVENTION here in Canada and our local Ontario Writers Conf too....but I note NOT a single session at any of same on any of them OTHER than a big workshop at the SFWA in Chicago...which I'll enroll in soon as I can.

Does anyone else have any diff exp here? Is what I/we do so bloody "alien" to the Trad model that all Conf do not want to even show a writer what can be accomplished by self-pub your works?

This really bugs me...but then I'm retired and really enjoying my own writing...so the hell with them...

;D
I haven't been to a writing con in...four year? So my experience may be out of date, but it doesn't sound like it based on yours. I think models that have been established for so many years are slow to change. As viable as indie has become, and as much as it has grown, it is still taking awhile to be acknowledged by the rest of the publishing world, and that includes writing conferences. We are also working against literally decades of prejudice, where self-publishing was akin to the 'vanity press' and just meant you weren't good enough to get published in the real world. While Dale points out a couple of cons that have healthy self-pub tracks, I think that is far from the norm yet. It is going to grow, though. It has no choice. Indie publishing is the thing changing publishing as we know it, and that will eventually bleed over into how cons are set up and run. Heck, my agent was the one who told me I should consider self-publishing! So some parts and pieces of the traditional publishing world do see it for what it is, it's just a matter of time before everyone does.
 

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JV Rudnick...Novelists, Inc (NINC), a national writing group composed of published writers who either a) have published a certain number of books with recognized traditional publishers with a minimum level of advance or earnings, or b) earned a certain amount per year per book on self-published novels of a minimum size, has a national conference each year. Small, focused on the needs of PUBLISHED writers, and, of late, with a LOT of information on self-publishing. All genres accepted. You might want to look into it.  There was a lot of excited feedback from self-published authors on last year's conference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
THANKs FOR ALL RESPONSES!! I am learning things from every response, absorbing everything just as an infant does. I am BLOWN AWAY with how much progress I am making with everyone's help on here and am very appreciative of how much time it is saving me in research; allowing me to further develop my own works.

THANKYOU!!

- Connor S. Francis
 

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JVRudnick said:
I want to chime in on this too...

The hardest thing for me to realize is that the biggest % of the Conferences I've been to - follow the traditional publishing model - ONLY!

Each (and I've been to 11 in the past year) - has the basic author talks about craft and how to get an agent and what to watch out for in contracts etc etc etc. This is the usual type of content for a Conf. There are also lots and lots of others tho - speakers from Agencies who tell you what kind of a query letter to write, how NOT to make mistakes, what kind of a deal you can get for foreign publishers etc etc etc. This too seems to be prevalent...

There are also sometimes a 'mingle' event I call them - cash bar, huge room, full of writers...and that's fun actually!

There are often 'pitch sessions' where you get to sit with a real live agent and pitch your book, provide a segment, etc etc. Not all have these but they too are very common.

But the one thing I've noticed is that NOT A SINGLE one had any self-pub sessions, speakers, comments etc etc etc.

Now that had me stumped. Why not? I am positive that I out-earn 90% of the writers who are there presenting - yet the Conf organizers wanted nothing to do with self-pub. Why not I still asked?

So I offered in the last 5 cases, to lead a session on doing just what I've done at Amazon - self-publish and each and every time I got a NO.
  • Three times the NO was accompanied with a 'no one wants to learn how to DIY-they all want to learn how to sign with a Big5' type of answer.
  • Once I got a 'who're you and what makes you think you can help real writers?'
  • And the last time it was 'we did think about that, and asked, but no one thinks anyone wants to know that...."

All of which flabbergasts me - but then maybe not....

Oh - I am an accomplished speaker in my own online marketing arena, having spoken at everything from local YMCA events to national SEO conferences, keynoted, panels, SMX/SES speaker....so I know how to both plan a presi, and more importantly how to SELL that presi to a Conference...

And in each case - nope. Not interested.

That has put me off Conf for a bit - but I'll attend the SFWA one in Chicago in a few months, our big CANVENTION here in Canada and our local Ontario Writers Conf too....but I note NOT a single session at any of same on any of them OTHER than a big workshop at the SFWA in Chicago...which I'll enroll in soon as I can.

Does anyone else have any diff exp here? Is what I/we do so bloody "alien" to the Trad model that all Conf do not want to even show a writer what can be accomplished by self-pub your works?

This really bugs me...but then I'm retired and really enjoying my own writing...so the hell with them...

;D
Literary snobbery is so ingrown at some conferences that it's doubtful that they'll ever change. Many conferences have come around to a different way of thinking in light of the fact that self-publishing is flourishing. Conferences are in business to make money, and with each year that passes it becomes clearer that if they want their conferences filled they have to go where the action is.
 

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My goal would be to make contact with other authors- not the big shots, but those who are at the same point I am. It means I'd have a networks of friends to bounce ideas off, knowing they're going through the same thing at the same time. Yes, it can help promotionally,  but the value of those contacts shouldn't be underestimated.

Sent from my SM-G900I using Tapatalk

 

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JVRudnick said:
I want to chime in on this too...

The hardest thing for me to realize is that the biggest % of the Conferences I've been to - follow the traditional publishing model - ONLY!

Each (and I've been to 11 in the past year) - has the basic author talks about craft and how to get an agent and what to watch out for in contracts etc etc etc. This is the usual type of content for a Conf. There are also lots and lots of others tho - speakers from Agencies who tell you what kind of a query letter to write, how NOT to make mistakes, what kind of a deal you can get for foreign publishers etc etc etc. This too seems to be prevalent...

There are also sometimes a 'mingle' event I call them - cash bar, huge room, full of writers...and that's fun actually!

There are often 'pitch sessions' where you get to sit with a real live agent and pitch your book, provide a segment, etc etc. Not all have these but they too are very common.

But the one thing I've noticed is that NOT A SINGLE one had any self-pub sessions, speakers, comments etc etc etc.

Now that had me stumped. Why not? I am positive that I out-earn 90% of the writers who are there presenting - yet the Conf organizers wanted nothing to do with self-pub. Why not I still asked?

So I offered in the last 5 cases, to lead a session on doing just what I've done at Amazon - self-publish and each and every time I got a NO.
  • Three times the NO was accompanied with a 'no one wants to learn how to DIY-they all want to learn how to sign with a Big5' type of answer.
  • Once I got a 'who're you and what makes you think you can help real writers?'
  • And the last time it was 'we did think about that, and asked, but no one thinks anyone wants to know that...."

All of which flabbergasts me - but then maybe not....

Oh - I am an accomplished speaker in my own online marketing arena, having spoken at everything from local YMCA events to national SEO conferences, keynoted, panels, SMX/SES speaker....so I know how to both plan a presi, and more importantly how to SELL that presi to a Conference...

And in each case - nope. Not interested.

That has put me off Conf for a bit - but I'll attend the SFWA one in Chicago in a few months, our big CANVENTION here in Canada and our local Ontario Writers Conf too....but I note NOT a single session at any of same on any of them OTHER than a big workshop at the SFWA in Chicago...which I'll enroll in soon as I can.

Does anyone else have any diff exp here? Is what I/we do so bloody "alien" to the Trad model that all Conf do not want to even show a writer what can be accomplished by self-pub your works?

This really bugs me...but then I'm retired and really enjoying my own writing...so the hell with them...

;D
As I mentioned above, our local Willamette Writers Conference held here in Portland, OR has had a fairly robust self-publishing track since 2012 ;)
Definitely worth checking out!
 

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What Annie and the others have said. Be sure to read the schedule carefully. Some conferences mention self-publishing in their brochures but don't have any workshops or lectures on self-publishing. A fairly well-known conference was guilty of this last year. The clue that made me look at their schedule was their emphasis on pitching to agents. If you're writing in a specific genre, you should probably focus on conferences that  concentrate on that genre--science fiction, romances, thrillers, etc. You'll get feedback from other writers who share your interests.

I'm going to be blogging about writers' conferences this month. Send me a PM if you're interested.
 

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JVRudnick said:
I want to chime in on this too...
The hardest thing for me to realize is that the biggest % of the Conferences I've been to - follow the traditional publishing model - ONLY!
It wouldn't hurt for us self-published authors to organize ourselves and start to gather to conventions or conferences of our own making specifically dealing with the world of self-publishing. Nothing really is stopping us other than lack of intent and/or dedication/knack for organizing. There are more self-published authors than trad ones anyway, there should be armies of interested parties to attend some of those. But people will need to know those happen in the first place. Said cons and conferences may in turn catch the attention of all those desperate souls trying to pitch their stuff to trads unsuccessfully and make them join our ranks at the self-pub "Dark Side" :)
 

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I haven't had any issues in the last couple years with cons having self-publishing stuff. I don't go to a ton though and I tend to stick to ones that put me on panels (tax write-off and usually a free admission), so I'm probably self-selecting.
 

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The Chanticleer Authors Conference is focused on the business of publishing and book marketing for authors, and includes self-publishing topics pretty equally with trad. Especially for people who live in the PNW or in BC it could be worth considering (it's in Bellingham, WA). I've been twice and got good value each time.

Disclosure: I know the organizers (mostly by virtue of attending twice) and will be presenting a couple of sessions at the next one this April.

http://www.chantireviews.com/chanticleer-conference/
 
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I haven't been any myself, due to lack of funds, but I have been looking at them and bookmarking ones for the future.

The West Coast Writers hold an annual Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference that sounds promising.

When I was looking for indie friendly conferences, the San Francisco Writers Conference was regularly mentioned. Though it does still clearly skew towards traditional publishing, they did have sessions on indie publishing as well, and lots of craft focused sessions.

I would also totally go to the Self Publishing Podcast guys Smarter Artist summit this March if I could. It isn't quite a conference, but it certainly looks like it would be educational as well as a great chance to network with some very successful indies.
 

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I think Writing Conferences help you start out and learn a lot. Many conferences are going to help with the craft of writing which every writer needs to work on. What I found really helped was joining my local writing group for my genre and attending those conferences. Depending on the genre you write, this might be the best place to start. Your local writing chapter may have their own annual conference and any surrounding chapters may as well. You can go to the local chapter conferences and workshops, and it will be cheaper to start out than going to National Conferences.

Here are the groups I belong to since I write both romance and children's books:

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators:
http://www.scbwi.org/

Romance Writers of America:
https://www.rwa.org/

I go to monthly meetings of my RWA's local chapter and there are panels and workshops for a low entrance fee. My RWA and SCCBWI membership also includes
membership newsletter/magazine which is full of info as well.

Plus, I'm going to the San Francisco Writer's Conference mentioned in a previous post since I've heard good info about it as well. I'm looking into the West Coast Digital and Indie Publishing Conference now. I hadn't heard of that one, and it sounds REALLY cool.

I'm also going to my local chapter for SCBWI's conference in March. I have gone to a writing conference in Las Vegas by Henderson's Writing Group, and they did have a more welcoming take on self-publishing. They had a couple of self-published authors on the panel when I attended in 2014. I've also flown to some SCWBI other chapter conferences when I was starting out. They all really helped me get started and get my writing process down.

So, finding the right writing group/association for your genre is probably the best first step. I know there is the Mystery Writers of America and a group for Science Fiction writers too. Maybe someone can post those up on the thread too.

Henderson's Writing Group Website (located in the Las Vegas area)
http://hendersonwritersgroup.com/

Good luck with your research. I hope this helped.
-Marilyn
 

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Look...I'm retired. I write because my muse beats the hell outta me to get back to the keyboard and my books do very well thank you because I've 40+ years of marketing exp including now 28 years on the web. For those who might say 'hey, web aint been around that long' you've missed the Lynx - text only years ahead of Mosaic...

What I'm trying to say is -- I will not do this. But....I heard a great nugget of an idea here in this thread...when Gaulvinov said....that we self-pub writers outta "organize" -- and that made my marketing brain go Hmmmm....

Someone should do - just that. Small Conf perhaps to start somewhere in mid-US area - Chicago or St Louis or somewhere so that we can all get there easily. IT IS A BLOODY HUGE commitment of time and yes funds too to start up something like this - so sponsors would be needed too....but the list of that kind of help is long...

Someone should do this. No Trad model inclusions. Self-pub only. I'd sign up today to hear Hugh talk about how Dust was born or EL talk about 50 Shades....etc etc....

This would work. Needs really passionate founders tho...who can see a horizon that's further than the first few years...

Done. Ideas are cheap in the marketing world...it's the execution that is the killer, eh!

;D
 

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JVRudnick said:
What I'm trying to say is -- I will not do this. But....I heard a great nugget of an idea here in this thread...when Gaulvinov said....that we self-pub writers outta "organize" -- and that made my marketing brain go Hmmmm....

Someone should do - just that. Small Conf perhaps to start somewhere in mid-US area - Chicago or St Louis or somewhere so that we can all get there easily. IT IS A BLOODY HUGE commitment of time and yes funds too to start up something like this - so sponsors would be needed too....but the list of that kind of help is long...

Someone should do this. No Trad model inclusions. Self-pub only. I'd sign up today to hear Hugh talk about how Dust was born or EL talk about 50 Shades....etc etc....

This would work. Needs really passionate founders tho...who can see a horizon that's further than the first few years...

Done. Ideas are cheap in the marketing world...it's the execution that is the killer, eh!

;D
Perhaps people don't need to aim as high as convention or conference from the very start. Maybe they could try something less formal and official, like big meet-ups in a few places in the US (Chicago is one fine example), where they can hang out, exchange experiences, thoughts, and ideas, and maybe good plan and organization will arise for something more official based on how things will go down on these meet-ups. I've also found that people are more likely to get involved if the ideas they bounce off of each other are done in person, rather than something like this here. I dunno why, maybe it's a better way to connect with people and get ideas across.

Has Kboards ever done any big crowd meet-ups? If not, then I think it would be the perfect time to start doing those as a regular practice. If people can hang out here and have helluva fun time doing so, real life should offer exponentially more fun and good times. After a while of doing those, people won't be as reserved or weirded out by an idea of a self-pub convention/conference as they might be now. Many may get cold feet today.

I also think that having annual conventions/conferences (even festivals and fairs) will raise the profile of the self-pub world a lot more than it is now. People still pretend it doesn't exist or that it's something very unrewarding or unproductive, largely because the media still hasn't picked on it as much as it should, and not many people are aware of it. But when you get some big bucks media to cover the event, and seeing how many people are involved in it, may spell exactly the type of message we want to send - that self-pub industry is as successful, and in many cases, if not more successful, than the trad-pub industry.

I'm not very adept at organizing even small events like birthday parties, god knows I've been awful at organizing my own lol, let alone something of this caliber. But there are many that can and could. But it has to grow into something more than just an idea. I'd visit one day if it's put into motion. Probably not right away, since I'm an ocean away from the US, but it may happen. If the event happens, at all. If we want more exposure and recognition, this in my view would be one of the best ways to do so.
 
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