Last year, I attended two writing conferences. I went with no clear goal in mind, merely trying to absorb what I could and learn as much as possible. Although I was a squirming novice attendee, I did gain much. This year I will return to those two conferences, this time with a careful plan to make the most out of them.
The first writing conference had no published authors in attendance; the second one had several—which was a bit intimidating. As someone without a book deal, I was in the majority, but we were a silent majority. The verbal minority had all published books.
At the first conference I was dismayed to learn that only three percent of writers make their living by writing full time; the rest need a “day” job to pay the bills. At the second conference I was further dismayed to meet a published author who has cranked out nine books in five years—he, too, needs a day job. By the way, he is not an obscure author either. I had heard of him and two of his books prior to the conference.
At the conference, he taught a class on memoir writing (teaching, incidentally is his day job). A few of my book ideas fall in that genre and he helped me clarify my objectives and develop a better vision. I was also fortunate to have a 15-minute personal consultation with him, where we discussed a specific book idea. He was most supportive.
At writers’ conferences, there are always a plethora of books to buy. Each speaker will plug at least a couple. Knowing my proclivity to buy books faster than I can read them, I limit myself to one book per conference. This time I bought one of his memoirs. At our consultation, I asked him to sign it. He simply wrote, “Thank you for buying my book.”