Serendipity and Writers’ Conferences
The annual conference of the Maryland Writers’ Association was held two weeks ago. For a writer like me, this and other writers’ conferences offer a slew of opportunities and the serendipity of meeting new people and old friends–all at a relatively low cost.
The keynote speakers alone were worth the price at the MWA conference. Chuck Sambuchino, freelance editor, bestselling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books, opened the conference with a half-day session on how to query an agent. For many years he edited the Guide to Literary Agents and the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market.
Keynote speaker Crystal Wilkinson, feminist poet and author, talked about character development and agreed to a quickly arranged and informal “fireside chat” on poetry. That was serendipitous, too.
Conferences like this take place all over the country every year. Malice Domestic, a conference for mystery authors and fans, comes up in May in Bethesda, MD, every year. Fans can meet their favorite authors and authors can talk about their craft in the many panel discussions held over the weekend. Bouchercon is a similar conference that occurs later in the year. Romance, science fiction, thriller, and other genres also collect their own fans and authors at conferences.
It’s not just the workshops, panel discussions, and keynote speakers that draw participants. Sitting around the table at meals or in the bar allows for networking, sharing of ideas, information, and tips, and serendipity.
Pitch sessions with agents give writers a one on one opportunity to entice an agent into requesting their manuscript. I didn’t have a manuscript to pitch this time, but I signed up for a pitch anyway with agent Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency. She seemed the most receptive to the mysteries I write. We had a pleasant one on one conversation, and I got to know her a little bit. I can also mention our conversation and hope she remembers it when I pitch my next book.
Since these are conferences for writers and fans, most of them also set up a bookstore where authors can sell and fans can buy books. Author signing events are held, and anyone can buy a book and easily approach the author eager to sign it.
Interesting people, good conversations, useful information, serendipity, and a good time are all available at writers’ conferences. They’re an investment that truly yields dividends.