I'm back from my first writer's conference and couldn't pass up the opportunity to share about my experience. Even though I want to convey my perspective of the benefits of going to one, I want to clarify that I DON'T think they're necessary to achieve success. I might be in the minority with my view, but I'd never gone to one before I got my agent and book contract.
However, after attending my first this past weekend, I do see the benefits of going to conferences to network with other writers, agents, and editors. Today I'd like to focus on the benefit of networking with other writers, and then in later posts this week, I'll share my thoughts about agents and editors.
At some point, every writer who's serious about publication needs to start networking with other writers. We can easily mingle online through blogging and other social media. So, why then would we need to do this in REAL life. Isn't the cyber world enough?
After this conference, I can honestly say that, no, I don't think online friendships are enough. There's something about cyberland that lends itself to superficiality. We can make happy comments, add smiley faces, and use lots of encouraging adjectives, when maybe we don't really mean it. After all, we're writers and we're good at typing out the right words. But are they always honest words?
This past weekend, when I was face to face with many of my blogging friends, meeting them for the first time, I realized this was my chance to develop honest, genuine writer friendships. Maybe I wouldn't necessarily become best friends forever with everyone I met. But at least I could let them see me for who I really was without hiding behind my lap top, and they could do likewise. Even though we definitely can wear masks in real-life too, it's much harder to hide who we really are.
So, what are the benefits of networking with real-life writers?
Encouragement: The writing journey is brutal. When we're together and can share openly about our struggles, we can draw encouragement and comfort from one another. I appreciated the listening ear so many of my blogging friends gave me over the weekend—the opportunity to share both my joys and fears. And having that outlet strengthened me in a way I just can't get in cyberland.
Advice: No matter where we're at in the process, we always have something more to learn. The conference provided countless opportunities for me to question other authors about the editing process and what I can expect over the next year. As a result I feel that I'll be starting this next phase of my career with more confidence.
Connections: Let's face it, connections with the right people are a part of the game. Whether the connections can help get an agent or editor, or help sell more books, we need to hook up with others for help. In my case, I wanted to meet other authors published through Bethany House. At some point I will need to have some of those authors review my books. If I can meet them now and they can get to know who I am, then perhaps the process of getting endorsers will be easier.
What do you think? Does cyberland provide enough networking benefits for you? Or have you benefited more from meeting real-life writers?
Special thanks to Eileen Astels Watson for rooming with me and listening to all my joys and fears. The picture is of Eileen and me before the banquet on Saturday evening.
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