Today's guest blogger is Jade Lee, author of exotic fiction. Thanks for joining us, Jade!
Hello all! I am at the Moonlight and Magnolias conference, put on by Georgia RWA. It’s a great regional conference and hopefully tonight, I’ll win the Maggie for Dragonborn. If not, I’m still having a great time! I originally wrote long drunken ramblings of what I was doing here, but that has thankfully been deleted. But, I did want to hit a couple highlights as to why you should or should not attend conferences.
First off, let me emphasize that you do NOT need to conference to further your career. Your time might be better spent sitting home and writing your nextbest seller. Mine too, for that matter, but I’m an extrovert who loves meeting people. I can talk sex like only a tipsy can. I’m also a popular speaker because I can speak very well about craft and business. I tell myself that I go to conferences because I sell a ton of books. Sadly, this is a big, fat lie. If everyone at this conference bought my mo
st recent book, it wouldn’t even be a blip on the publisher’s radar. Nationwide, my print run measures in the tens of thousands. Selling even 200 at a conference would mean nothing.
So why do I spend the time and, more importantly, the expense? Travel and hotel are not cheap! Well, partly because I like a good party with people who can talk books, love, and sex with ease. Networking is fun! I even like giving workshops where people actually listen to me blather about my craft. How cool is that? But mostly because something cool always happens to me at a conference. Maybe it’s because I become open to a different set of energies or maybe that many drinking women naturally create something weird. Or maybe because nice things happen when I’m not looking. It doesn’t matter. So here’s a list of why one might or might not go to a conference.
1. LEARN...unless you’re solid in your writing
At the beginning of my career, I went to a ton of workshops and listened. I am always stunned by the people who attend workshops to platform their pet problem, not to listen. I usually had at least one ah-ha! moment per conference. BUT, if you feel solid in the craft and comfortable in your business contacts, then don’t bother. Seriously. There is a point where reading a book on writing is a ton more helpful than sitting in workshops that you could teach by yourself.
2. NETWORK...unless you’re not-so-good with people
I met both of my agents and all of my editors first at conferences. It was really helpful to talk to them face to face before the business relationship began. BUT if you’ve already got an agent and editor, if you clam up in a tight angsty ball when talking to people, then face to face can be a bad idea. Don’t hurt yourself! Do it through email and phone conversations. You don’t have to meet people to work with them. Honest.
3. PROMOTE...unless you’re a bad promoter
As I said earlier, I’m fun! I’m personable! I make people laugh! That helps sell my books. Eventually that pays off...some. Hopefully more and more over time. BUT the book is the thing. If you don’t enjoy meeting people, if you don’t enjoy being on display or gabbing with anyone, then your time is better spent writing your next best seller. Mine probably is as well, but I LIKE parties! A lot! So I go to conferences to meet EVERYONE!
4. WOO WOO...unless you don’t woo woo
Then there is that undefinable something. It may not be how you work, so feel free to ignore it. But just about every conference I go to, I have a moment. It could simply be reconnecting with an old friend, but this time...I got the perfect story idea. I completely tossed out the last three weeks of work on something else, but it doesn’t matter. The idea is RIGHT, and I wouldn’t have gotten it if I hadn’t started chatting with a woman in the bathroom.
I know this blog is getting long, so let me say that conferences are fun, but writing is a business. If you don’t shine in a group, if you don’t need to learn/re-learn the basics, then you can absolutely have a fabulous career without ever going out into the writing public. Honest. But if you like a party and can afford to spend a weekend having fun with like-minded fans, then come on down! I’ll save you a seat at the bar!
Time for you to confess! Share a conference woo-woo moment (or lack thereof) and someone will get a free Jade Lee book of their choice!