Are Writing Conferences Worth It?

I recently got home from a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles where I got to see so many amazing things like…









And Dobby!












And Central Perk!








And illuminated manuscripts from centuries ago!



But the main reason for my trip was to spend three days at an SCBWI conference (which stands for the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a great resource.) I took a long time deciding whether or not I wanted to spend the money—not just the registration fee, which was substantial, but also hotel, airfare, rental car and all the other incidentals that come with travel. Would it be worth it? Especially now that I already had both an agent and a book deal?

And along with those concerns, there was this: I would be going alone. To a conference with 1200 attendees.

But, after seeing the program guide packed with fantastic keynote speakers and interesting break-out sessions, I decided to take the plunge. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? (Um, you could be sitting like a loser alone in a room with 1200 people.)

Now that I’m home, I can say that I’m so glad I went. YES, it was worth the money. YES, it worked out just fine to go alone (I met so many great people!) and YES, it was valuable even though I already have an agent and an editor. In some ways, it was more valuable. I didn’t have to worry about pitching anything, I could just sit back and soak in the inspiration.

Because more than anything, that’s what a writing conference offers. The chance to feel inspired and reenergized. There’s something magical about sitting in a huge room full of people who care about books with the same passion that you do.

And as a wonderful bonus, I got to meet my agent for the first time face-to-face and she is just as marvelous in person as she is on the phone. It was wonderful to leave our dinner together feeling like I would have chosen her as a friend even if we weren’t working together.

So, as your budget allows, I would encourage you to find a writing conference, be brave and go. Be inspired!

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