The other day someone asked me, “How many writers’ conferences have you attended?” My first was in 1996(?) and the Heart of Dixie chapter held it in Birmingham. Then the list goes as such:
Southern Magic (Birmingham) – 2 times
Shreveport, LA – 3 times
Atlanta, GA – 2 times
Melbourne, FL – 1 time
Jacksonville, FL – 1 time
Fort Lauderdale, FL – 1 time
Iselin, NJ – 1 time
Pensacola, FL – 1 time
National Conference in Atlanta
I met quite a few editors and agents and attended quite a few workshops. There’s been a mixture of good and bad in all of those, but lately I’ve been hearing more and more people making statements about workshop presenters who are not published. They say they refuse to go to a workshop presented by a pre-published author. In essence, they believe if the author isn’t published they don’t know what they’re talking about. So wrong!
Of course, the first people I think of who are not usually published in the way we wish to be are teachers and professors of creative writing. Sure they’re probably published with the college press and some might be by one of the big New York publishers, but most I would guess are not. You and I would agree we could learn a lot from them.
I’m talking about the everyday blue/white collar or stay-at-home mom or dad who is working toward publication. I’ve been to several workshops presented by pre-published authors and come away with new ideas for stories and how to present those stories to publishers. One of my favorite pre-published authors was Kelley St. John. A couple years before she became published, she passed on some tips on how to pitch to an editor. They’re most useful and get me requests all the time.
There may be several reasons an author isn’t published yet, but her/his ideas could save you a lot of heartache and could even be the one bit of information needed to get your manuscript sold.
So next time you go to an conference, don’t just go to published authors’ workshops (I’ve been to several boring ones), go to the workshop presenting the information you need no matter where the author is in her/his career.