Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Attending Conferences

Attending Conferences
Students of the Craft Series
Net's Notations Tuesdays

I read a review today on a book written by a multi-published author. The reviewer said, “I read such-and-such a book by her and couldn’t wait to read her next one. But I was so disappointed in it.” One star.

Yikes! Now, granted, readers have differing opinions. There are several reasons a reader might have connected with Book 11, but not Book 12. But, from the other reviews, it seemed readers weren’t impressed with the author’s characterization in this latest novel. And characterization is a teachable skill.

So, it’s back to the classroom.

This month, we’re discussing being students of the craft. I’ve heard well-published, successful authors say (at conferences), “I’m here (to listen to so-and-so teach) because I want to never stop learning.” That same person was up talking with the teacher during the break, getting advice, learning, growing as a writer.

I respect that.

Are you a committed student of the craft?

Committed students take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about their subject. Conferences are a great resource for learning and networking.

Conferences inspire me. I always think, “I can’t wait until I go home and put this great stuff to use!”

Which conferences will you attend this year? Things are lean for some of us. If that’s the case, find a local conference put on by a small organization. These are likely more affordable than the national conferences. No doubt you’ll be able to glean fresh info, or network with new people. Some writers prefer the smaller conference setting. If so, this is for you.

If funds and scheduling aren’t an issue, attend a premier conference, if you can: Mt. Hermon, ACFW, etc.

Either way, plan ahead. Do your research so you can make every meeting count. Know what agents are looking for, and the same for editors/houses.

Here’s a checklist for committed students attending conferences:

* Carry a bag with your school supplies. (smile) (Messenger bags or backpacks work well.) Pens, notebooks, pencils, highlighters; or a laptop. Plan to scribble down (or type) as much info as you can.
* Attend agent and editor panels. Again, take notes. You never know when you’ll need the information later.
* If available, purchase the CDs after the conference to catch anything you missed.
* Be professional. Agents and editors will take you more seriously if you look and act the part. Students who come in sloppy to class usually don’t apply themselves. Be organized. Project earnestness.
* Plan to study conference materials once you’re back at home, too. Leave time in your writing day for listening to those MP3s or CDs and taking new notes. Then, apply what you’re learning to your WIP (work in progress).

Remember, we’ll are students of the craft of writing. Keep studying. You won’t regret it.

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