Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Conventions vs. Conferences

Things are heating up at the Clark Kent job, so you haven't seen much of me lately. The summer is when I'm busiest, 'cause that's when we're slow. It's my job to get people in the door. So, I'm working ALL THE TIME. Which doesn't leave much time for anything else except sleeping in the coldest place I can find (and fit in to; it's no good to fall asleep with your head in the freezer 'cause you just end up on the kitchen floor). South Carolina is HOT this week, friends and neighbors. And it ain't gettin any better any time soon.

It's probably all for the best as I'm taking a little break creatively to let my brain rest after finishing the novel. I've been tinkering with the short story I was talking about last week and have no doubt I'll finish it in the next few days, but it's nice not to feel pushed... especially when "real life" is so insistent upon intruding.

Right now I'm working on figuring out the South Carolina Writers' Workshop Conference. I hadn't given much thought to the conference before this - I'll go and meet people and shake hands and buy a few books and listen to some panels was pretty much my plan - but now that I've started reading in-depth about what's being offered, I'm more excited than I was before... there's a lot of classes being offered, and a chance to talk with faculty about your novel, and query assessments... all kinds of stuff. You can come a day early and participate in intensive classes that are, like, four frickin' hours long. Which I really wanna do.

But, of course, it all costs money... and I'm trying to figure out the things that are worth the money and the things which aren't (should I care about a formal dinner with all the faculty of the SC Writers' Workshop including a keynote speech and awards banquet for the members of the SCWW, which I'm not a member of?). If I had lots of expendable income, I'd sign up for everything, but that's about $600 worth of stuff plus the hotel room plus the gas money to get down there... so close to $1000? There's no frickin way.

Any suggestions about what I should include or leave out? The schedule of events is here, and the prices are here. There's also add-ons like pitch sessions ($10, definitely worth the extra cash) and real-time query assistance ($25, probably worth the extra cash), but there's also prose critiques ($50-$100, is it really worth it?). I'm terrible at this. I've never done it before. Any and all advice is much appreciated.

Going through all this information has made me even more excited about the World Horror Convention next year... and it's really teaching me the difference between conventions and conferences. Conferences have classes and mixers. Conventions have booths and panels. Uh... right?



You make the writer's world so interesting with cinventions and confrences,very interesting to read.

Have a lovely day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Depends on what you feel you need the most. You could always try one of everything and see which one provided the best return.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I've not done the conference thing as an author. I went as an editor and heard pitches. The authors who had signed up were generally well-prepared and had practiced their pitches which I think is always helpful. Once the book comes out an author needs to be able to pitch it as well. Something that sounds easy but isn't. So I recommend the pitch and hey it's only $10. Prose critiques? Meh. Only if that's something you feel you really really need to move ahead and have the money for it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'd skip the critique as well. Get more bang for your buck.

And from experience, the hottest place on the planet is downtown Columbia. Something about all that cement!

Hart Johnson said...

I haven't been to WRITING conferences, but my experience with OTHER conferences is the day before workshops are often pretty darned good--they are smaller and work more like a class.

If I were picking and choosing, i'd skip the meals that cost money, as most of those same speakers will be OTHER places, and the cost of meals at those things is astronomical.

And I suspect you only want critiques on things that YOU feel are ready--you know you are planning novel rewrite/edit, so any critiquing NOW may kill your voice out of it.

Says the person who's never been...

Jemi Fraser said...

I've never been to a conference. I look forward to your take on it. I think you'll learn a ton no matter what you choose. Myself I'd be skipping the dinner thing and spending that money on other items. Have fun!

Arlee Bird said...

There's networking opportunities to all of it I guess. Some of the "classes" may be the same old stuff you already have read in books, etc and maybe the dinner's mostly a vanity thing-- but their's probably value to all of it.

Austin's a pretty nice place to go and that trip won't be none too cheap either.

Good luck.

Tossing It Out

Talli Roland said...

World Horror Conference! Sounds intruiging.

I'm going to my first conference in about a month. I'm curious, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Unknown said...

There's an award for you on my blog!

Ella said...

I'm excited for you; I'd skip the fancy meal, you can savor that next year, stick to the ones that serves you and what you feel you need work on! I can't wait to hear all about it~

I know, it is humid n'hot as Hades here in NC!

Hart Johnson said...

Hey there--I know I've commented, but I wanted to give you a heads up that you have an award at MY blog, TOO! (aren't you popular!)

DL Hammons said...

I'm working up the courage to tackle a couple conferences next year. I'm really excited about Thrillerfest (I write mystery/thrillers), but as you say, moola is a concern.