Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Conference woo hoo!

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 romance novelist 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!


Farrah Rochon said...

Thanks for joining us here at Novel Spaces, Jade! I've been debating the Moonlight and Magnolias conference for the past few years, but have yet to make it out there.

Love your post. I usually have a "woo woo" moment every year at Nationals. It usually occurs in workshops where one thing the presenter says sparks an idea and I end up working on plot instead of listening to the rest of the workshop.

The networking, fun, wealth of knowledge, and camaraderie at conferences are worth the price of admission.

Good luck at the Maggie Awards!

Unknown said...

Hi, Jade!

I've yet to make it to a single "big" writers conference. The forces in my life haven't aligned to help make that happen yet.

Then again, I am very much an introvert and I realize that several days of conferencing requires much more game face time than a book signing. So, it was reassuring to see you assert that not attending would hurt my career.

Still, I'm gearing up to one or two in 2010, trying to schedule vacation time, kid care and finances so that I can make the most of the experience. When I hit that circuit, I'll be sure to track you down and take you up on that bar meet.

Mary Marvella said...

Jade! I loved spending even a little time with you at M&M. I am part of the group and I wouldn't miss one of our conferences. I love conferences and workshops because I am a people person. I get something new from each conference, including meeting tons of wonderful people!

Nita Wick said...

Jade, let me first say that YOU need to attend conferences just so that everyone else there will have a good time. ;) You are loads of fun, and I really enjoyed meeting you.

Just by coincidence, one of my "woo woo" moments came during your awesome workshop. I've had a WIP that been IP for far too long. I love story and the characters. I have maybe 5000 words left on it but haven't been able to move forward because I felt like something was missing. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was. As we discussed how the setting might reflect my character, I realized I'd forgotten to develop a key element of my hero. WooWoo! Hallelujah!

The conference was worth the trip and expense just for that. But I always get so much more out of conferences. I don't have a local writing group where I can meet with other authors face-to-face on a regular basis. Being around other writers for a few days always recharges my batteries and jump-starts the muse.

Thanks again for the great workshop and the many, many laughs you elicited!

Liane Spicer said...

Thank you for being our guest, Jade!

I've never been to a conference but it's one of those things I'd like to experience at least once.

Genella deGrey said...

Things that must be said about Jade Lee:

Jade is someone whom you either want to be when you grow up or want to have a best friend just like her - if not have her as your best friend. ;)

She has so much energy - GOOD energy - that you can't help but want to hang out in her immediate vicinity.

Then you find out that she digs Sundays at RT (just like you do) and you REALLY want to be in her inner circle. (Yes, even if she loses her voice and you both have been balling from a passed life regression session.)

So how do you come off as a colleague and not a drooling fan girl?

I have no idea.

But she's right. Conferences are so much fun and such a wealth of information. There's nothing like being with your peeps – and by that I mean women (and men) who listen to 'those little voices' and write down what they say. ;)

At conference you totally 'get' each other.

Tell you what – there isn't a place on the planet where 1,000 other people 'get' me except at conference.

Jade Lee said...

Well, I'm blushing! You are all so wonderful! And this is exactly why I love conferences -- because I get to meet people like you! Even people like Stephanie who are shy and struggling to make the stars align so that she can hang out at a conference. Thank you all! And yeah...I understand the feeling that conference people are the only ones who really "get" me. I've made some life-long friends from conferences.

So next time y'all get one...look me up! I'm probably in the Starbucks!

Jade Lee said...

PS. I havent forgotten the contest! The book winner will be announced this weekend! I thoguht I'd wait to see if there are any more comments.

Jade Lee said...

And the winner is....


Liane...email me at jade@jadeleeauthor.com and tell me what book you want (plus your address) and I'll get it right out!