Stepping out of our comfort zones: Writer’s Conferences

Raise your hand if you’re an introvert.

Reporter raising hand at US Army press conference
Come on don’t be shy, it’s the internet, no one can see you. Raise your hand if you’re so shy sitting in a room with 100, 200, 400 strangers scares the living daylights out of you. *nods* Yeah, me too. But in 24 days I’m going to do just that. Shy little me will be sitting with the 4 people I know in a sea of people I don’t know. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make my stomach churn. Despite my nerves, I’m looking forward to it. So much that I can tell you it’s only 24 sleeps away.

I’m going to the RWAus conference.

So why am I going to put myself through feeling uncomfortable? Well, there is so much to be gained from writer’s conferences. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a conference or seminar or festival, do it. I went to the Gold Coast for the RWAus conference last year and also the Speculative Fiction Festival in Sydney earlier this year. Both experiences were very different, but both were well worth my time. So, what does one get out of such an event?

  • Knowledge: The RWAus conference is 3 full days of panels, workshops, and plenary sessions. They usually run 3 or 4 sessions simultaneously which range in skill levels. Ie; for beginner, intermediate, advanced writers. I came away with a wealth of new knowledge last year. Some of this year’s sessions include; Effective Dialogue For Writers, Save The Cat (Blake Snyder’s system), Published Author Roundtable, Publishing Contracts. I should also say that these sessions are run by professionals. This year the speaker line up includes; Laura Bradford (lit agent), Alex Adsett (lit agent), Anne Gracie (author), Juliet Marillier (author) and the list goes on.
  • Networking: Even if you’re a wallflower like me, you’ll meet people. Everyone is so friendly at these things. Make sure you’re prepared to talk about your writing, the small talk icebreaker, “So, what do you write?” You’ll meet writers, bucket loads of them, industry professionals too. There are always lots of editors, agents, and best selling authors at these events. Be yourself, chat to as many people as you can. It really is worth it.
  • Pitch Sessions: Almost all writing events have pitch sessions. You need to register before the event and you will have 5 or 10 minutes of one on one time with an agent or editor of your choice. In that time you talk about your manuscript and maybe, if they think it’s something that they might like, they make a request.
  • Books, book, books: Where they are writers, there are books. Some free, some for sale. Many authors use these events as a promotion opportunity. There is usually a signing session as well, where you’ll find a room full of authors not only selling their books, but signing them too.
  • Fun: despite my being an introvert, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to have a weekend away with a few friends. At the speculative fiction festival earlier this year, I met fellow Aussie Owneders, Sharon and KA in person. That was beyond awesome. It was like we’d known each other forever because we were already ‘cyber friends’. At the RWAus conference they have events in the evenings which are way too much fun. Saturday night is the awards dinner. This year, one of the 4 friends I’m attending with is a finalist for the Emerald Award. I am beyond excited for her and every finger, toe and hair is crossed that they call her name out as the winner. The friday night is typically a fancy dress cocktail party sponsored by a publisher, last year it was Harlequin’s e-press, Escape. Although a little uncomfortable at the whole fancy dress thing, it was a great night

I’m looking forward to flying to Perth in 24 sleep’s time. I just have to figure out what to wear for the fancy dress cocktail party. The theme is nautical or nice. Any suggestions?

Stacey Nash (3) Stacey Nash is a self proclaimed introvert who occasionally forces herself out of her comfort zone.  She writes YA adventure stories in the scifi and fantasy genres. You can catch Stacey on twitter, facebook or at her blog.

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  1. That hand doesnt look like your hand Stace 😛
    You’re going to do great with your pitches at conference. And it helps to get you involved when you are surrounded by like minded souls 🙂
    Good luck in Freo 🙂



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