Before two years ago, I had no idea what a writers conference even was, let alone why I should go to one. I can't remember how I stumbled across LDStorymakers, but it was right when I was getting serious about trying to publish Feudlings, so I was understandably thrilled when I signed up.
I have since been to LDStorymakers twice, and the League of Utah Writers Roundup Twice. I have also been to smaller conferences a couple of times. Is it worth it to keep going? Do I learn new things? Most conferences are kinda costly, so, yeah, if I'm going to continue going, I want it to be worth my money!
My answer is yes. For a couple of reasons.
1) The first is, of course, all the learning opportunities from writers who have been there, done that and already have all the expertise I'm lacking. There are all kinds of classes and different teachers, and yeah, I've gone to some classes just because my favorite author was teaching it. I don't even remember what she taught but I loved every second of it. Others, I had no idea who the teacher was when I went in, but I learned so much, I've been an avid follower ever since.
2) The chance to pitch to agents and editors. Most conferences offer this chance, usually for a fee, but you get ten or so minutes of undivided attention. I got two full requests this way. It was scary -- I almost threw up the first time, but it was a good learning experience.
3) Maybe the most overlooked but possibly the most important is the networking. Before I started going to conferences, I had ZERO other writing friends. I thought I was alone in the world (cue rain cloud over my head). Now I have lots of writing friends, and having others stuck in the trenches with you makes all the difference in the world. I write more now, I have friends to brainstorm with when I'm stuck, and there's always someone to kick me into writing when I'm feeling lazy.
So. Conferences are expensive, yes, but in my opinion, totally worth it. Plus, I've even heard they can be a tax write-off!
And what about you? Are there other reasons I missed?