Writing conference season is nearly upon us! So many conferences of all shapes and sizes! But how does one choose?
There are many things to consider, but first and foremost, ask yourself: what are your goals in going to a conference? What do you hope to get out of it? This will help determine which conference will help meet those goals.
For example, some conferences are networking-oriented, like the Winter SCBWI conference in NY. Others are more craft-based, such as the New England SCBWI conference in Springfield, MA. Looking at what sessions they offer can clue you in to which type – networking conferences tend to offer bigger picture topics and have more of a lecture format with lots of opportunities to mingle. Craft-based conferences also have plenty of mingling opportunities of course, but their sessions are often more specific and hands-on.
Then there’s the question of broad or specialized conference. Are you looking for something that will let you take sessions on a broad variety of topics and genres or are you looking for something that focuses on a category such as children’s’ books, romance, Sci-Fi/fantasy, etc? An example of a broad spectrum conference would be The Muse and the Marketplace in Boston, and in addition to the afore-mentioned SCBWI conferences, there’s more specialized options such as RWA, Romantic Times, Reader Con, and many others.
Once you’ve decided what type of conference you want (crafted-based or networking) and what focus is best for you (general or specific), the next question is location! Local SCBWI and RWA chapters may offer regional conferences, as well as larger national ones from the main parent organization. Often (but certainly not always), national conferences have more of a networking focus, while the regional tend toward craft-based. And of course, cost is a factor for most people--unless you happen to live in or near the city where the conference is being held, national will likely take a bigger bite out of your budget with the high cost of hotels, travel, etc. since they're usually held in major cities. But on the flip side, they may also hold greater networking opportunities.
In short, there's a lot to consider, but every conference has its benefits and can be a wonderful, worthwhile experience!
What conferences have you been to? What made you decide to go? Did you get what you expected out of it? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
MarcyKate Connolly writes middle grade and young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and spends far too much time babbling on Twitter. Her debut upper MG fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children's Books in Winter 2015.