Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Are Writer’s Conferences a Waste of Time and Money?

A few weeks ago a writer friend said, “Writer’s conferences are a huge waste of time and money.”

I said, “I suppose if you think they are, then they are.” I also mentioned that I believe going to a writer’s conference is like going to any business conference; you need to prepare to get something out of it. You need to be open, plan on achieving goals, networking, and learning new skills or sharpening old ones. Anyway, he disagreed, saying, “You’re hopelessly optimistic.” I took it as a compliment. Though I suspect he didn’t mean it that way. Anyway….

Since conference season is in full gear around the northwest, I decided to interview a few successful authors in regards to their opinion on the necessity or importance of writer’s conferences. I didn’t ask the flat out ‘are they a waste of money’ question, but instead what they liked, gained or how they’re beneficial. The whole money thing is too relative and is a topic that can spoil, stink, mold over and go bad real fast. I’d rather focus on the positive. So, the next few weeks I’ll share some of their answers, starting with Bharti Kirchner who graciously took time to answer my questions.

I fell in love with Bharti’s writing when I read her sensual novel, Darjeeling. For a synopsis – and a look at a good synopsis which is darned hard to write – check hers out at Bharti

FROM BHARTI (BK)– (MH is me.)

MH: What is your goal/hope/intention when you go to writer’s conferences?
BK: My goals are the following: To keep myself up to date on what’s going on in the industry, brush up on writing techniques, catch up with old friends, and make new friends. In the past, I’ve also made connections with agents this way.

MH: How many do you go to each year?

BK: I mostly present at two to three conferences per year.  I’d do more, if time and opportunities did permit. Conferences do take me away from writing, but I like the break and the inspiration and excitement they provide.

MH: Does attending conferences improve your writing or is it purely a social event?

BK: I’ve always found them useful. They’re not a purely social event for me. I often hear, “But I know all this.” That’s true. However, I think we need to hear some of the same things over and over again so we internalize them and our writing reflects them.

Bharti Kirchner’s latest novel (a mystery this time),
Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery is out in print, Kindle and Nook. Tulip Season Blog Twitter: @bhartikirchner
An interview with Bharti Kirchner has been published in and She’s had a number of articles in The Writer magazine, including one in the August 2012 issue. Check out her article titled, The pleasures and perils of prologues  — THANKS Bharti!

So, why do I (Mindy) go to conferences?Because of my firm belief that to learn, really learn something you must first sit at the feet of the masters. Not all instructors at writing conferences are Aristotle or even know who he was, but if you find one who is and does, then you’ve discovered gold. Mine that gold and fine tune your craft – train the same way athletes have trained for centuries. They’re not so different from writers; they train daily (we write daily) they have coaches (if we’re lucky, we have mentors) they toil away mostly alone in preparation for events (we write in a vacuum coming out only for readings, critique groups and conferences) and all for no to little pay or accolades. Except for the few who win those gold medals (book deals). In case you were wondering.

Next Week, Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering, and Julie A. Fast, best-selling author and management specialist on the Oprah and Dr. Oz created website


2 comments on “Are Writer’s Conferences a Waste of Time and Money?

  1. Mindy Halleck
    August 15, 2012

    Thanks Writer Chick, I'll try to work out that google kink. I appreciate the feedback. Mindy

  2. Writer Chick
    August 14, 2012

    Technical comment: I subscribe in Google Reader, and for whatever reason, the interview itself didn't come through readably. (Darn those Intertubes, anyway.)Non-technical comment: Really looking forward to hearing from Larry Brooks!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by in bharti kirchener, julie a. fast, writer's conferences.
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