Writers tend to work in a bit of a vacuum, so every once in awhile it's nice to get away from the computer screen and have some face-to-face interaction. Conferences are a great way to pick up new info about different genres, meet other writers, and stay "in the loop" of what's happening in the field. Conferences can be pricey, so you want to make sure you'll get your money's worth if you decide to attend. Though offerings can vary, below are 5 of the biggest reasons why you should seriously consider attending a writers' conference:
Networking opportunities. It's nice to hear about others struggling with the same issues and how they're working through them. Networking can also lead to future business (for all of you nonfiction freelancers), writing buddies, or simply friends who can provide some feedback on projects.
Education through breakout sessions. Most attendees are looking for some new information about the field. That's where breakout sessions come in. Learn some new techniques for character development, how to write a stellar query letter, how social networking can boost your business, writing effective villains, or any other writing-related topic you can possibly imagine. Certainly attend a few sessions related to your genre, but why not check out a few on something completely different? It might help you approach your own work in a new way.
Inspiring keynote speakers. Even the most proficient writer needs a kick in the butt once in awhile, and often a strong keynote speaker can provide it. They are typically a highly established and respected member of the field meant to get the crowd to ask themselves "How can I renew my commitment to my craft?"
Author book fairs. It doesn't hurt to take advantage of opportunities for shameless self-promotion if they're available. Lots of conferences hold book fairs as a way for their published attendees to peddle their wares. It's a great way to support your local writers, and, if you're one of those writers, it's a quick and easy way to sell some books!
Giveaways. Who doesn't like free stuff? Conferences are notorious for their assorted giveaways or "swag" (stuff we all get). Pens, pencils, notepads, and often back issues of various magazines can be found on the average "freebie" table. Don't be greedy, but definitely take advantage!
What are some of your biggest reasons for attending writers' conferences?