Please join us to discuss everything literary (especially kid literary): good books, the writing life, the people and businesses who create books, controversies in book world, what's good to snack on while reading and writing, and anything else bookish. We welcome your thoughts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Writing Conferences, Workshops or Retreats. What Do You Expect from Them?


Dave Amaditz
If you're like me, I'm sure that at one time or another you've attended a professional writing conference, workshop or retreat. I'm sure as well that you've enjoyed some more than you've enjoyed others. I know I have. Because of that, I've listed a few things I believe that make attending a writing conference, workshop or retreat well worth it.
1.  Access to top-notch editors and agents, and preferably the ability to approach him/her to give a short pitch of your project. At the very least, you should have the option to meet with an editor or agent in a separate breakout session or one-on-one during a private critique.
2. Close to home if possible. Why travel long distances if you have a worthwhile event in your own backyard?
3. Well organized. It seems obvious, but you should expect to have a detailed plan of what services you'll receive for the duration of your time at the event. This should include but not be limited to:
a. The ability to attend many classes that will include a variety of discussion topics. They should be presented by professionals in the business…This could and should include the editors and agents listed above and published writers in your field.
b. Fantastic speakers to teach you something you did not know or enlighten you with a new technique for doing something you are already doing. A presenter or speaker who's speech will motivate you to continue working long after you've returned home from the event.
c. The ability to receive up-to-date knowledge about the business.
4. Expect to receive and to learn the latest information about the business. In part, it could include:
a. Who has moved to and/or from a particular publishing house?
b. What new literary agencies have been started?
c. What material a particular house is or is not accepting?
5. Access to other quality writers. Conferences, retreats and workshops are a perfect opportunity to network. Market yourself, but be receptive to others. Listen to what the other writers have been working on. Listen to their latest experiences with the industry.
Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list of what you might expect to receive at a conference, workshop or retreat.
Let me know if there is something I've missed or something you particularly look forward to accomplishing at a conference, workshop or retreat.
Let me know if there's a particular conference, workshop or retreat you would list as your favorite. Two of my favorites (I'll talk about why some other time): Rutgers One-On-One Plus Conference (follow link for more information here) http://www.ruccl.org/One-on-One_Plus_Conference.html  and Spring Writer's Retreat, Bethany, West Virginia (follow link for more information) http://www.wpascbwi.com/
I'd love to hear from you.


  1. I love conferences and I'm not shy about traveling if the speakers are worth the trip. I recently came back from the Florida SCBWI conference. It was worth every penny of the travel expenses. I also love the annual SCBWI conference in L.A., California. Yet I've never been to the Rutgers One-on-One (and I, ahem, live in NJ). : )

  2. Great speakers! Yes. I noticed Cheryl Klein attended the Florida SCBWI conference. Isn't she great?
    Jerry Spinell spoke at one conference I attended. I'll never forget when he pulled out a stack of rough drafts (probably about 10 revisions) of a novel he recently completed. It brought to life the reality of what was in store for me. Just what I needed at that time.