Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?! by Cami Brite

You might wonder why people make such a big deal about writer’s conferences. Why should you attend one if you already know enough about writing to get words on a page? Writers spend a lot of solitary time at the keyboard. Sometimes we need to get out of our heads, and a conference is the perfect place to do that.

IMG_4251This year, I went to the Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio. With about 2,000 attendees, it’s a big deal with three full days of about 100 workshops on a variety subjects, three keynote speakers, spotlight sessions on various publishers, pitch appointments with editors and agents, book signings by published authors, the annual RITA & Golden Heart awards ceremony, and other things I can’t recall at the moment. Many chapters and publishers also host parties and events, so there’s always something to do.

I attended more workshops than my mind could take in and had a great time getting to know people from my local chapter as well as many others.

I had my very first pitch with an editor, which was inspiring. It was wonderful to sit down with a knowledgeable industry insider, to tell her a bit about my characters and their story, and to get some objective feedback. We talked until the very last moment, and I left with a smile on my face and her card tucked safely inside my conference badge holder.

I returned home both exhausted and energized. Despite being incredibly tired and having a huge assortment of laundry ahead of me, I felt buoyed up with a sense of empowerment. Before the conference, I had been dragging my feet when it came to my daily writing commitment. Now, I’m eager to put words to the page.

Here are four great reasons to attend a conference:

  • Education: Workshops on a variety of topics offer something new to learn (or something vital to relearn). My favorite workshop at the RWA conference was Sarah Maclean’s presentation on Mastering the Art of Great Conflict. I didn’t learn anything new, but she summed up all the important points we need to remember when plotting out a story. (And she did it with panache. The whole room was buzzing.)
  • Networking: Conferences provide rare and relatively painless exposure to editors, agents, and other writers in both formal and casual settings. The contacts made at a conference might be the most important in a writer’s career.
  • Pitching: The opportunity to pitch your work to editors and agents is rare in a normal writer’s life. Sure, you can tell your story to friends and family…but why not tell someone who can help get your book finished and published?
  • Motivation: Call it conference afterglow. Following a conference, it’s possible you’ll find yourself writing better and faster than you have in years.

Next March, I’ll be at the California Dreamin’ conference, ready to fuel up with a new dose of empowerment. Will I see you there?


camib-1Cami Brite belongs to Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA). When not busy with her day job and web duties for LARA and the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference, she is busily working on her very first contemporary romance novel, currently entitled Hotel California.

You can find Cami at her website and on twitter.

Pitching the Right Publisher by Diane Benefiel

DianeBenefielI attended my very first romance writers’ conference, the California Dreamin’ conference, in March 2013 with great anticipation. All of the sessions and extras looked like so much fun.

There was a bit of anxiety, however, about pitching my just-completed novel. I’d never pitched before but knew if I wanted to publish I had to do it.

I attended the evening session where I could practice my pitch on an experienced author and this helped a lot. The next morning I was there, bright and early, ready to meet the agent and two editors I was scheduled for. Each was a different experience, but all asked to see at least a partial.

I sent thirty pages to the editor, who sent back a very positive rejection letter. I say positive because while she didn’t want to represent me she was very encouraging and had some good suggestions.

Next, I sent my manuscript to the editor who had requested the whole thing, didn’t hear a peep for two months, sent a follow up email, waited, sent another and still nothing, a-need-to-protect-highres-nologonot even an acknowledgment of having received my submission.

I informed that editor I was going to submit elsewhere and then sent it to the second editor who represented Decadent Publishing. Within a day, I had received confirmation they had received my submission. Within a month, they asked to see the whole thing.

By October, I had gotten that wonderful email saying they loved A Need to Protect, my romantic suspense, and would like to offer me a contract. Throughout the entire process, the Decadent staff has been amazing. They respond promptly (even on weekends!), are full of helpful suggestions, and have been amazingly friendly.

A Need to Protect was released on March 14, 2014, just one short year after the conference. I can’t wait to see what the 2015 conference will bring!

Diane Benefiel