|Amy M. Reade|
We’ve all heard of Boucheron and Left Coast Crime and lots of other big-name writers’ conferences out there that attract writers, readers, agents, editors, and publishers.
And we’ve been told countless times that we need to attend such conferences. Going to conferences allows us to meet other authors, fans, readers who haven’t been introduced to our work, and entire networks of people who just might be interested in helping us further our careers.
But all this networking can be really expensive. There’s air fare, hotel fees, meals, the cost of attending the conference itself, and, possibly, the cost of membership in one or more of the groups that sponsor the conference. Then, if you’re an author, there are the added costs of author swag and books for purchase.
I can hear some of you now: “You’ve got to invest in yourself.” “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” “You can write it off.”
That’s true. You do have to invest in yourself, you do often have to spend money to make money, and you may be able to write it off. But sometimes the money just isn’t there.
That’s why I’ve written this blog post, to talk about just a few of the smaller regional conferences that are out there. Smaller conferences often have a smaller registration fee and take place in smaller towns and cities where it’s cheaper to stay and cheaper to eat. And since they’re not as cumbersome as the national conferences, they provide many more opportunities to meet and mingle with the stars of the show—the authors, editors, and agents who also attend.
There are lots of regional conferences, so in the interest of space I’m only going to highlight a few.
New England Crime Bake: an annual conference that focuses specifically on New England crime and nonfiction writers. It’s held just outside Boston. Note, membership in Mystery Writers of America or Sisters in Crime is not necessary, but will allow you to pay a discounted registration fee. www.crimebake.org
Suffolk Mystery Writers Festival: the second annual festival will be held in August, 2015. Last year’s attendees included twelve well-known and best-selling mystery writers, an editor, and an agent, as well as several hundred avid readers. This is free and open to the public and located very near Colonial Williamsburg, VA. www.suffolk-fun.com/play/suffolk-mystery-authors-festival-2014/.
Sleuthfest: an annual conference to be held this year in Deerfield Beach, FL. Features fabulous speakers, social events, and several sessions on the crafts of writing, publishing, and marketing. Note, membership in Mystery Writers of America will allow you to pay a discounted registration fee. www.sleuthfest.com.
Midwest Writers Workshop: an annual event held in Muncie, IN, that features intensive sessions for specific genres and general sessions for writers of all genres. There are opportunities for meeting agents and social media tutoring. www.midwestwriters.org.
Kentucky Women Writers Conference: an annual event held in Lexington, KY, which celebrates women’s contributions to the arts. The conference features publishing advice, sessions on fiction, memoir, and poetry, among other topics, and manuscript consultations. www.womenwriters.as.uky.edu.
AWP Conference: an annual conference featuring the publishing industry, cutting-edge writing, and a list of other topics far too long to print here. Takes place in Minneapolis, MN. www.awpwriter.org.
Historical Novel Society Conference: a bit pricier than most of the others I’ve listed here, this is an annual conference that focuses specifically on historical novels. It will be held in Denver, CO. There are sessions on trends in historical women’s fiction, self-publishing and cover art design, primary sources, and many more great topics. www.hns-conference.org.
Women Writing the West: the annual conference will be held in Redmond, OR, from October 8-October 11, 2015. Has featured sessions on writing the authentic West, Apache place names, Western writing for children, publishing, and writer communities. www.womenwritingthewest.org.
Write Now!: a conference specifically focusing on crime fiction, this one is held in Arizona, so it’s great for writers from the Southwest. www.desertsleuths.com.
Alaska Writers Guild Conference: a great regional conference featuring manuscript critiques, timely publishing topics, and sessions with editors, agents, and best-selling authors. www.alaskawritersguild.com.
One important note: many conferences provide scholarships for attendees who cannot afford the registration fee. By all means, if there’s a conference you’d love to attend and you simply cannot afford it, go to the conference website and find out whether there are scholarship opportunities.
I’m sure you all know of lots of other small, regional conferences. Please share them in the comments!