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Traditional Publishing (PART 6): The Importance of Writers Conferences


When you reach the point of querying your book and beginning preliminary searches on your “next steps,” you are sure to learn about writers conferences.

Writers conferences are events that usually take place over the span of a few days. These events are a lineup of workshops to teach you different subjects on writing, guest speakers, author signings, and agent pitch sessions. These events are also fantastic networking events and a wonderful place to connect with like-minded people.

Typically, you want to stay on top of writers conferences. Within the first week of the lineup announcements, many sell out. This is especially true with agent pitch sessions. Once names are announced, pitch spots with well-known agents and editors who work for the Big Five go quickly.


Writers conferences can get pricey. On average, you can expect to pay close to $1,000 an “in-person” event.

Here is the breakdown. The conference itself usually costs anywhere from $650 to $700. Hotels and travel can cost up to $300 to $500, though many hotels will run deals for conference attendees. Add-ons, such as pitch sessions tend to cost $70 per each fifteen-minute interview. Sometimes one or two pitch sessions can be included in the total conference cost; additional sessions could add more.

Although conferences are pricey, they can be one of the most useful tools a writer has at her disposal. If you choose to pitch to an agent or editor and she requests material from you—this is the most surefire way to end up on top of that agent or editor’s slush pile. If you get material requested at a conference, not only have you made a face-to-face connection, but your requested material will require a different subject header, and therefore, will stand out.

For example, a standard subject header will look like this: “Query - Genre - Title.” Material requested at a conference will be along the lines of: “Material Requested at City Writer’s Conference.”


Fun fact—the term “elevator pitch” originated from writer conferences. The premise is this—that during your stay at a conference and the hosting hotel, should you find yourself in an elevator with an agent or editor, you should have a punchy, one-line summary of your story ready to roll off your tongue. Sometimes this is where industry connections—and maybe even a book deal—come from.

Practice your elevator pitch and always have it ready to go!


Most writer conferences host mixers. Mixers are a great place to network but also a great place to see that agents and editors are people, too! During the mixer, you are allowed to approach agents and editors and make personal connections. Be considerate at mixers if you decide to use the time to get in front of agents and editors to give an elevator pitch. While this is okay and an acceptable practice, it is common courtesy to know what each agent represents and not waste time pitching to agents who do not represent your genre.


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PART 6: The Importance of Writers Conferences

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