I am so excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. This is one of my favorite conferences, and an incredible opportunity to meet other writers, learn more about craft and the industry, and pitch your book to agents. I’ve attended the Writer’s Digest Conference since 2011. For past few years I went as writer-attendee, soaking in all the amazing information. This year, I’m ecstatic to be returning as a speaker!
This is one of the best conferences around, and I’ve been to A LOT of conferences so that’s saying something. To give you an idea of how much I love this event, in 2012 I braved the January snow to go to this conference while *ahem* 9 months pregnant. In all fairness I live in NYC so all it meant was taking a cab crosstown, but still that’s how badly I wanted to go.
What I love about Writer’s Digest is that it inspires action. Every time I leave this conference I’m pumped and motivated to get to work on my writing. I always get tons of practical advice and actionable tips, but also just enough inspiration to push me to follow through. In a way, you could say I’m the poster child of what a writer can achieve through this event. After all, it was at Writer’s Digest 2011 where I met one of my mentors and got that first push I needed to start DIY MFA.
Why Attend a Conference?
Time and money are invaluable to everyone, but most especially to writers. So many of us struggle to fit writing around day-jobs as well as family, friends and other obligations. Even full-time writers find it’s a tug-of-war to get words on the page. This is one of the reasons I founded DIY MFA–as a way to make writing work on your time and budget, because not everyone can take out two years to attend an MFA program.
Still, there’s one thing that MFA programs still have going for them and that’s the community aspect. As writers on the do-it-yourself track, it can be hard to find like-minded friends who understand what this writing life is all about. It’s also a challenge to meet people in the book industry like agents, editors and industry pros who can help you make that publishing dream a reality.
Conferences are a great way to supplement your writing life and help you make those important connections. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Meet other writers — Conferences usually draw people from all over the United States and, indeed, the world. You’ll find other writers in your genre, at your level, and from your area. It’s a great way to swap stories, exchange advice and maybe meet your next critique partner! I myself have met several writers at the Writer’s Digest Conference who have become trusted colleagues and close friends.
- Meet professionals — At writing conferences, agents, editors and writing experts teach the classes so you can hear straight from the experts. The speakers also mingle with writers at lunch and in-between sessions. Conferences are a great way to meet the speakers and make connections, whether you’re just starting out, looking for an agent or marketing your published book.
- Learn — Conferences have so many classes to choose from and Writer’s Digest is no exception! Many conferences have different tracks, for fiction writers, non-fiction writers, new writers, experienced authors and everyone in-between. You can craft the perfect learning experience and focus on only the topics that apply to you.
- Be Inspired — We are often toiling alone at our desks. Writing conferences are a great way to step away, draw inspiration from other writers, and refuel. You’ll leave bursting with new ideas and a new drive to write.
Why the Writer’s Digest Conference?
Writer’s Digest is a particularly fabulous conference for many reasons. Here’s three particular to this year:
- Eight New York Times Bestselling authors — Harlan Coben, Kimberla Lawson Robey, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Dani Shapiro, Cheryl St. John, Dan Hampton, Barry Lyga and Hugh Howey will be speaking at the conference this year.
- Four Different Tracks — There’s something for every writer. Getting Published, Platform and Promotion, Craft and Self-Publishing. You can plan your schedule to best suit your needs and only attend sessions that are relevant to you. At the same time, I strongly recommend going to one session in each track, to give yourself a well-rounded conference experience.
- The Pitch Slam — This is Writer’s Digest’s signature event. More than 50 agents and editors are slated to be on hand scouting for new talent. This is chance for you to get face-time with an industry professional and talk about your book. Even if you’re not ready to be published, it’s a great chance to practice and hone your pitch.
On a personal note: I pitched the DIY MFA book concept at this conference in 2012 and it was the overwhelming response that gave me the confidence to approach my current agent with the proposal. Even if you don’t find your agent during the Pitch Slam, it’s a fantastic way to get fast feedback on your concept and get a sense of whether you’re going in the right direction. It’s also great practice for talking about your book, which is something you’ll have to do a lot once you’re published.
If you’re going to the Writer’s Digest Conference, don’t miss my session on the Seven Steps to Stronger Middle Grade and YA Novels. Even if you don’t write children’s books or YA, the 7 Steps will totally apply. Also, leave a comment below letting me know you’ll be there so I can look for you. I LOVE meeting other writers!
Also, as a special bonus for DIY MFA readers, if you sign up using my code, WDSPEAKER when you register, you can save an extra $50.