from the mixed up files of Agent Manners: finding conferences

Dear Miss Manners,

I’ve become increasingly convinced that the road to publishing requires networking and discussion with people in the industry. I would like to go to a writer’s conference. I find such events daunting to say the least, but my social anxieties are beside the point.

My problem is finding conferences that would be beneficial to me. Trying to scour the internet for conferences in my area, around this time of year, concerned with my genre, and/or frequented by agents and publishers I respect seems an impossible task. I have plenty of people recommending that I go to a literary conference, but not how to find the right one. I have a day job and limited income, so taking a trip to New York would be difficult.

Do you know of any resources that provide listings of conferences for easy perusal? Should I bunker down and plan a trip to New York? Should I bring a friend so I don’t feel like a small fish in an enormous publishing pond?

Addled in Atlanta

P.S. I write fantasy if that makes a difference.

Dear Addled:

Agent Manners recommends checking out which has a searchable database by date and region.

Since you are a fantasy writer, you may want to consider saving your pennies for attendance of a World Fantasy Convention. It’s about as good as you are going to do in terms of getting a lot of networking in one place. In 2008, it’s in Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Also, DragonCon is in Atlanta every year and they do have a separate workshop and craft track.

That said, while networking may increase your chances of meeting people, getting referrals and so forth, the best way to get published is to write a book no one can put down. Not the agent. Not the editor. Not the B&N buyer. Not the readers. And then repeat. After all, Agent Manners currently represents authors she has never met in person, so obviously networking was not crucial in those cases.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Bear introduced me to Jay Lake, who in turn set up a meeting with Ken Scholes, and he recommended Mary Robinette Kowal, who became a new client of mine last month. (That makes it Mary’s turn….) So, it certainly has its advantages. They still all had to write really, really, really, really ridiculously good books.

15 responses to “from the mixed up files of Agent Manners: finding conferences

  1. Does that make the great-grand-client of . Coz, like, if this was Amway…

  2. the best way to get published is to write a book no one can put down
    *gets back to it*

  3. (That makes it Mary’s turn….)
    I see Mary suddenly making a *whole cadre* of new friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Or like how I was pointed at your blog by a friend who had met you at a con as a potential agent “match” for my fiction once I’ve completed my novel length works.
    Networking is both both visible and invisible to the end result.

  5. There’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and the writers workshop (free) at Wiscon is really useful I think. A lot of cons have writing workshops that allow you to work with published writers and often for a low fee or free.

  6. You don’t always have to attend a conference for a specific genre. This past weekend, I attended my first conference, Desert Dreams. It is managed by the Desert Rose RWA branch, and therefore it’s not surprising that most of the attendees were romance writers. But not me! There was a good little cluster of us who wrote women’s fiction or even nonfiction (and a few brave men were present, too). I had a blast. The workshops were informative regardless of the genre, and everyone was very pleasant and encouraging. There were agents who worked with my topic, too, so I still had chances to network.

  7. For a different perspective — I attended my first convention after my first novel (and a bunch of stories) was published, and never went to a conference. There are many roads to publication; and especially now, networking can be increasingly done online. (And, as Mary said above, you have to be *ready*.)

  8. Perhaps worth noting that my mother had 12 books published without ever meeting her publisher, let alone getting an agent or doing any preliminary networking. I got published without doing any networking whatsoever, or going to any SF conventions. Obviously, I have since done so, but I don’t see it as essential. I’d concur with .

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