I saw another discussion on a wrtier’s listserv on conferences. People who had just attended a very popular conference were lamenting the fact that attendance was down. The discussion went on to other writers’ cons that had bit the dust.

They blamed the economy, of course.

And while I know that many writers have less discretionary money than before, I don’t believe that to be the whole reason.

Going to conferences has never been a good return on investment for most writers. If we go, we go to network, meet other writers, booksellers and agents. For those of us who are pubbed by smaller press, e-book publishers or self-pubbed, it has become clear that we are excluded in many ways from that network. We have to work harder to get to speak on panels, and sometimes even to get our books in the sale room.

And don’t believe what they tell you about it being a simple matter of distribution. My books are distributed through Baker and Taylor and my publisher takes returns but at many of the cons I’ve been to, I have to cart my own books, bring them to the sale room during set-up (sometimes days before the con) retrieve the unsold portion after the con and wait months for payment. That is, if I can get whoever is organizing the sale to agree to that much.

Often, the networking seems to take a similar turn. I have to prove my worth and that of my pubisher.

When my first book came out, I thought it was just a matter of time until the industry adjusted to what seemed to me to be inevitable and good (in other words profitable) change. But I am no longer of that opinion. For some reason, e-books, print on demand and self-publishing seem threatening to some people. The music industry has made some similar changes but they have embraced them. Publishing has not.

To put a bunch of work and money in for something that will not yield any benefit seems self-defeating. Just my point of view.

So I’m not attending any conferences. And it was good to hear that others like me aren’t either. Now if those organizers would just “get” it.

Are you attending conferences? Why or why not?


One response to “Conferences?

  1. I have attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference every year for the past 17 years and it’s a fantastic experience. Many writers have gotten their agents and/or publishing contracts as a direct result of attending this conference. There’s something for everyone, epublished and traditionally published alike.

    One of my favorite things about this conference is how close and intimate it is because it’s not very big. We’re a social bunch and the hospitality suite hosts a party every night that’s well attended by agent and editor guests. There’s nothing quite like one-on-one time with an industry pro in a casual setting. I remain friends with several agents who have attended in the past.

    I’ve been to some not-so-great conferences, but the Colorado Gold never disappoints. It’s definitely an excellent investment for any fiction writer.

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