Writer’s conferences are perhaps the successful writer’s best kept secret! They are well worth the cost and can give you a leap forward in your writing career. This week on the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris and Gena talk about writer’s conferences and why there should be one in your future.
Episode 17 Transcription:
[00:00:13].820] - Chris Hello, and welcome to the Writing Momentum Podcast. I'm Christopher Maselli, and I'm here with my wife, Gena Maselli. How are you doing today, Gena? [00:00:21].470] - Gena I'm doing great. I am enjoying this day and enjoying planning these podcasts. That's what we spend our morning doing. It's just talking about it and hashing out ideas and really thinking about what we could bring to the listeners of the Writing Momentum podcast. [00:00:36].190] - Chris Yeah. We've really enjoyed doing this because we've had several of you have written to us and told us how much you are enjoying this podcast that you haven't missed an episode yet. And that just means so much to us. We're doing this for you guys. It's just something that we want to help writers have Momentum with their writing. And so we really hope it's being beneficial to you. And remember, a lot of these topics that we come up with are because you guys have been writing in you've been sending us your questions, and we're just answering them right here in the podcast. So please do that. And in fact, today we're going to talk about one of our absolute favorite tools for writers. In fact, I don't think there's anything for writers that helps further your career as much as what we're going to talk about today. Is there, Gena? [00:01:18].610] - Gena Absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree. And this is writer's conferences. [00:01:24].370] - Chris Writer's conferences, yes. So if you've never heard of a writer's conference or been to a writer's conference, you might be surprised to find out that there are every year writer's conferences all around the world. It almost doesn't matter where you live. If there's a big city near you, you're sure to find them. And even in a lot of smaller cities, they still have writer's conferences. And essentially what they are is they are gatherings of writers and many times editors and agents where everyone gets together just to talk for sometimes days on end about writing. [00:01:59].710] - Gena Well. And I think it's important to note that writer's conferences also come in. Some of them are one day long. Some of them are three days, five days, a week, that kind of thing. And they are at different price points, too. There are a lot of smaller writer's conferences that are available. There are larger ones that can go up into the thousands of dollars, but there's some that any writer could find that would be within their budget. [00:02:27].560] - Chris Yeah. And some writer's conferences are really focused on writing, just writing itself, like the craft of writing. Some are more focused on the business and on getting published. Right. So there's different focuses, and then some of them are very well rounded and they'll do a little bit of each. And what we love is that because editors and agents attend them many times. You can find ways to get published or you can get your foot in the door somewhere that you normally couldn't. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself. So what are some of the reasons, Gena, that everyone should attend a writer's conference? [00:03:00].450] - Gena Okay. The first reason, I think and this is a hard one, but this is for new writers. If you are a new writer and you are out there thinking. [00:03:12].170] - Chris What do I do? [00:03:13].120] - Gena What do I do? Where do I start? Writer's conferences are a beautiful place to start, and I know that it can be intimidating. Chris and I have both been there. I know when you walk in, you feel like there's probably going to be some big spotlight that's going to light you up and say, she doesn't deserve to be here or he doesn't deserve to be here. What a fraud, that kind of thing. That's the imposter syndrome we could probably talk about in another podcast. All writer's deal with it. But I am telling you, do yourself a favor. If you are a new writer, sign up. Go take lots of notes. Go with open ears and an open mind and an open heart. And I am telling you, you will come away so enriched and probably really jazzed about what you want to produce. [00:04:07].320] - Chris Yeah. And we'll tell you, we've been now on both sides of writer's conferences where we have been there as attendees and first time attendees. But we've also now been on the side where we teach at writer's conferences. And we can tell you as teachers that there are a lot of newbies at every writer's conference. So it is certainly a club that you can feel comfortable in. And I think you'll find that these are your people, right? Like, they get what you're doing. They get how hard it is to write sometimes, and that and if you're more experienced, this is also a place where you can continue to learn your craft. You can Hone your craft, get better and better every single time. We love going to writer's conferences because every time we go, we come away with something that we hadn't really had a grasp on before. And so we continue to become more professional the more writers conferences we get. Don't we, Gena? [00:04:57].990] - Gena Absolutely. And we go and that is us. We either learn something that we can hone our craft, we hear something that helps us on the business side. We just connect with other writers. And like you said, you feel so jazzed that you're finding people who understand what you're trying to do and who want to do it well. And many of them probably are already doing it well. But they're still there learning. And there's that energy that comes when you get around your tribe that you just can't you can't put a price tag on that because you will walk away with more ideas, with more inspiration, with more of just that energy that I want to do this. I can do this. I believe that I can do this. It's just a wonderful experience overall. [00:05:51].610] - Chris Yeah. And so the other thing that you'll find at writer's conferences is that, as we said earlier, editors and agents attend them. And so there are many times editors that would normally not accept manuscripts unsolicited that you can literally sit down across from like they have signups is what they do. They'll put them on a wall or on a table, and you can sign up to meet with an editor or an agent, someone that maybe you've really been wanting to meet with before. And you thought, man, I don't even know how to get a hold of them. And here you can go and sit down across the table from them, pitch your idea, let them know what you're working on, see if it's something they're interested in. And not only that, but you can start to build relationships and network and even have dinner with people. It just happens. And what you'll find is that you really make forward progress. One of my favorite stories is when I was at a writer's conference years ago. I went into one of those rooms where all these agents and editors were sitting, and I had my manuscript, and I was terribly nervous about sharing it with anyone. [00:07:00].510] - Chris And I sat down and I shared it with an editor at Zondervan, which is one of the larger inspirational publishing houses. And to my surprise, he loved it. And the next week he flew me to Zondervan headquarters to talk about it and pitch it to their marketing team. Now, that's a very rare occurrence. But you know what's not so rare about it is that this kind of story comes out of writer's conferences often. It doesn't happen all the time, and it doesn't happen to everyone, of course, but these kind of things happen. You can make connections like that. There are other projects that both Gena and I have had where we have pitched them at writer's conferences, and that's what it's taken off. I've got an editor that I write for their magazine every single month, and I have for over ten years. And I met them at a writer's conference. [00:07:49].190] - Gena Yes. That's what I wanted to mention is that it's not just for books, it's also for magazines. I sat down. I was very nervous. I had an idea for an article, sat down across from an editor. This was an editor sat down across from an editor, very nervous, pitched my idea, and he was very gracious and so gracious at a really great magazine from a few years ago. And I went home, and if nothing else, I had that feeling of success that I did it, even though I probably didn't do it well, it probably could have been done so much better. It didn't matter, but I did it well, you'll never know that probably about two or three months later, I got an email from that magazine from an assistant editor saying, would you like to write this article? They didn't take the article that I pitched. They took something else or they pitched an article to me and said, do you want to do this one? And that turned into a long relationship. It turned into probably about a three or four year relationship with that magazine where I ended up writing for that magazine. [00:09:09].810] - Gena And then I wrote for a sister magazine. Then I became a columnist. And it turned out really well. And it happened because I went to that writer's conference. I signed up for one of those sit down face to face. It was a ten minute conversation, but it really did help me in my career. [00:09:27].660] - Chris Yeah, this is a bold statement to say, but for us, this has been true, that we have never had a writer's conference that hasn't paid for itself. When you look at the prices of some of these, you might go, man, it costs $300 or $400 for some of these conferences. We have always made that money back through, certainly through jobs, but often, sometimes too, with just the knowledge that you save the leapfrogging that you do going forward from these things and the friendships that you and the friendships you make because you make some of those friendships. [00:10:00].750] - Gena And then Chris and I have talked about masterminds. But some of the people that we have met at writer's conferences are now members of our masterminds. And so that relationship that started back then has now grown and developed until now. We are really helping one another with the business side of writing or with the craft side of writing. [00:10:20].630] - Chris Another aspect of writer's conferences that we recommend you participate in if you go to one, are the competitions. So many of these conferences have competitions where you can enter a manuscript into a contest, and they usually have various categories. And I always recommend that if you go to a writer's conference, whatever you do, please submit some manuscripts to some of the categories because you may win one to your surprise or you might have what happened to me? I once entered a poetry contest. I just thought, oh, I'll throw a poem in this contest. I ended up coming in second place. So I have a second place, award winning poem that I can attribute to myself. And here's the secret. There were only two people who even entered that contest. I actually came in last, but I can say it was an award winning poem because I entered and I did win an award. And so it's kind of cool to be able to walk up to the front the editor see that. And it can kind of help boost your writing credit. [00:11:23].040] - Gena And it also helps when you finally do if you are doing a book that you can put that on, your achievements you can make a note that you have won awards. That's always a special thing to be able to put that on there. And the editors will then see that or agents, they'll see that and say, this is someone who takes their writing seriously. This is someone who must be pretty good at it. [00:11:47].210] - Chris Yeah. I don't know many writers who are successful who don't continually go to writer's conferences. I recommend, especially when you're starting out, you go to multiple conferences each year if you can. Now, one of our favorite writer's conferences is in Oklahoma City. We think it's the best conference in the Midwest, and it is called Writer Con. You can find out more about it at writercon.com. And it is scheduled every year over Labor Day weekend. And you love that one, too, don't you, Gena? [00:12:16].860] - Gena I do. We've been there now for several years, and it's just a great one. And it covers a lot of different types of writing. There's a lot for fiction, but there's also a lot for the inspirational market. There is also information about our classes and workshops on poetry, on screenwriting. I'll tell you, some of the people they have coming in to teach screenwriting are just fabulous, fabulous people who have worked for, have built just wonderful careers in Hollywood. So I highly recommend Writer Con. And they always go out of their way to make it really special, to make it fun. And that's the thing, also, that I want to bring up with these writer's conferences is they are fun. The writer's conferences are really a lot of fun. You go it's just kind of a break from the regular life. And you just get to go and spend this time just soaking up all this inspiration and information and wisdom that you get from these people. So, yeah, don't discount the fact that they are just a lot of fun. And at Writer Con, they do a lot to make it fun. They have silly games that they'll sometimes play at the end. [00:13:34].530] - Gena And people really get into they have trivia nights, they have all sorts of stuff. And really, they don't take themselves too seriously when they do those kinds of things. It's just a fun time to get together and get to know one another and just kind of mingle and make other connections. [00:13:51].870] - Chris Yeah. You'll definitely geek out if you attend a writer's conference because these are all your people. So Gena, will you take us through a real quick, like 30 second wrap up and recap of what we talked about? [00:14:01].940] - Gena So why every writer should attend a writer's conference? Well, first, for your new writers, this is just a great way to get you started. I can't put a price on this as far as what you will gain in inspiration and just in the knowledge for the experienced writer, it will help you hone your craft. You will be hearing from people who have been in this business for a really long time and who have learned how to do it even better. They are continually pushing themselves to write better. You'll also learn the business side of writing. There are classes and workshops on contracts, on working with agents, just all of this business side you want to learn and continually grow on. Because even in that things are changing, you want to meet other writers. That's the other. That's part of the fun. As you get to meet other writers and you can learn from them, you can just find people. It's really about finding your tribe. When you go to these places, it's wonderful. You can sit down face to face with editors and agents, whether you're traditionally published or whether you're independently published. If you're independently published, you have to find your editors. [00:15:17].280] - Gena You have to find your graphic artist. You have to find some of that. You will find those people either at the conferences or you'll find names from other writers who can recommend someone. And there's these competitions. Most writers conferences have these competitions that you can enter that help boost your writing credentials so that when you do that book proposal, you can put on there that you are an award winning author. And they are as I've mentioned, they are so fun. And if you're looking for one, we really hope that you will consider Writer Con in Oklahoma City. It is scheduled for over Labor Day weekend, and it really is one of our favorites. We've been to a lot of different writer's conferences, but we really appreciate Writer Con and just all the effort that's put into it. It really is just an excellent, excellent conference. [00:16:10].210] - Chris Yeah, we're going to be there. So if you're going to show up, too, please let us know and maybe we can get together and say hi. So between now and next episode, we hope that you will rate and review and subscribe so you never miss an episode of Writing Momentum. And please share it with a writer friend of yours and let them know that we're out there, because that's how we build the audience and let more people know how to give their writing momentum. Now next week we're going to talk about seven tips for creating an article for the first time. We had someone write in and say, hey, I'm writing an article for the first time. Do you have any tips for me? And we do. We're going to show those next week, so don't miss that one. Until then, we hope all your writing has momentum.