The other day on Facebook I saw an invitation to a writer’s conference in Georgia (I can’t remember which town). Among other opportunities there, you could pitch to agents.
I had a knee-jerk reaction: Man, I wish I could go to that. If I could just pitch to an agent in person, I think I could get one to pick me up. And then I went on about my business,’cause there’s no way I can afford to go to a conference in Georgia.
Later, though, I got to thinking about it, and I wondered if my initial reaction was a good one or not. It’s a reaction that comes from years of wanting to hook up with an agent and get published by one of the houses. During the formative years of my aspiring writer’s life, this was the only open avenue to having a book on the shelves.
Thats changed now. These days, if anything, the main problem is that there are too many people out there with books on Amazon (and on tables at conferences). What’s worse, a large percentage of those books are crap. If that offends you, I’m sorry, but it’s the truth, and I don’t beat around the bush about that kind of thing. It makes more legitimate authors—and yes, I consider myself among that crowd, as I’ve been told by enough people that I’m good that I must really be—despair. How are we gonna get noticed? What can we do to draw attention to ourselves?
I think we’ll be answering those questions for years to come. Of course, one way to do it the way I have: use through an independent publisher. At least that way it goes through an is editor. Granted, the quaity of editors at the indies is spotty, at best, but I happened to see mine at work both before and after he started his publishing company.
Not all of us have that luxury, though, so I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to weed out the glorified bad writers posing as editors (not to mention the scam artists) from the good ones.
What does this have to do with conferences? Well, just this: if the old publishing model is dying, if the big New York houses are slowly going the way of the dinosaur, what good do the conferences do? After all, it’s looking like the future is resting more and more in the hands of the indies.
Well, I’m not sure how fast that’s gonna happen, for one, and we need to keep that in mind. Beyond that, conferences are still an opportunity to network with other authors and publishers. Maybe you don’t like the indie publisher you’re with right now and you’re seeking another one. Or mabye you just want an opportunity to set up at a table and sell some books.
And hey, if you can get a good deal with an agent, why not go for it?
Personally, I think the conferences are going to be around for a while. If nothing else, birds of a feather flock together, and we writers like to group up and sound sophisiticated and knowledgable about this mysterious thing we do.
Besides, you make new friends that way. Or at least new customers (fans?).
I supposed I’ll start going to conferences when I get out of school and get a job that lets me afford to do it. I know my promo guy wants me to do that kind of thing, and the exposure can’t hurt.
What do you think? Are conferences going to become a thing of the past? Are they worth attending?