Ever thought of attending a national writers conference but lacked the courage to take that step of faith?
Okay fellow writers, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and experience the thrill of a rollercoaster ride, a/k/a a national writers’ conference. It took me several years to get up the courage (and money) to sign up for just such an adventure. In February I attended the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego with roughly 300 attendees and 40 invited speakers. There was a mix of agents, authors, publishers, editors, and screenwriters who offered expertise in all genres. All three days were packed with workshop and seminar options, general sessions, panel discussions, and read-and-critiques. This particular conference is recognized for “easy access” to all the presenters and that certainly held true .
Prior to the conference I paid $50 each for two one-on-one consultations with agents. Unfortunately I made the mistake of a) sending new material, and b) screenplay material to a book-only agent. It was a great “learning opportunity” about what not to do! (Tip: Agents only want to see material that has been professionally edited and ready for publication.)
The following day I attended a workshop with screenwriters. When the sessions wrapped up, one of the screenwriters happened to be standing next to me and invited me to dinner. I then had a chance to tell her about my book, Hidden Heritage…the Story of Paul LaRoche, an inspiring biography of a Native American musician, perfect for a Hallmark movie. (The book was released from Beaver’s Pond in June 2006 and has sold 3,700 copies to date.) By the time dinner ended, she and I had an agreement for her to pitch the book to television and film producers for three months, with the intent of her writing the screenplay.
Now here’s the best part. After the conference wrapped up another agent needed to share my shuttle back to the airport. We hadn’t met before so we started chatting more as equals, talking about our kids, the conference, etc. By the time we reached the airport, she handed me her card and said she’d love to see my material when I get it ready. It went so smoothly I didn’t even realize what happened, unlike the pressure-packed 15-minute pitches.
Here are a few conclusions:
#1 - Stay true to your passion, your stories, and faith in yourself as a writer.
#2 – Perfect the craft. It all comes down to how good the writing is.
#3 – This business is a crazy rollercoaster—be prepared for the ups and downs!
Bottom line, it’s well worth the time and money. The kinds of personal contacts you can make at a conference are immeasurable, ones that just might take you on another ride.