Tomorrow I head off to the Grand Hyatt in NYC for ThrillerFest, a gathering of fans, friends, and some of the best writers on the planet. Fellow Kill Zone blogmates Kathryn Lilley and John Gilstrap will be there along with soon-to-be-permanent Sunday Kill Zone blogger, James Scott Bell. There will be discussion panels, workshops, demonstrations (Amazon Kindle, ATF), parties, interviews, the Clive Cussler Roast, the debut authors’ breakfast, and the Thriller Awards Banquet among the events. A good time will be had by all.
If you’ve been to a writer’s conference such as Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Sleuthfest, ThrillerFest, and others, you know that it can be great fun and offers a ton of opportunities for authors at all stages of their careers. And if you haven’t attended one yet, move it to the top of your to-do list. You won’t regret it.
Here are some important reasons to attend conferences like ThrillerFest.
Inspiration. You’re sure to be inspired by the time you leave. Being surrounded by hundreds of writers creates electricity and excitement. And the inspiration is contagious. You’ll get support and encouragement from agents, editors, and other writers. And you’ll feel emboldened to go home and write with renewed enthusiasm.
Knowledge. Most conferences like ThrillerFest are built around panel discussions. You’ll find workshops and author panels covering topics from writing young adult novels to creating believable heroes and villains. No matter where you are in your writing career, you’ll always come away learning something valuable.
Networking. Publishing is about people. Meeting fellow writing professionals is invaluable in getting your name out into the marketplace.
Friendship. The potential for forming long-lasting friendships with your fellow authors is perhaps the best benefit you’ll receive from a conference. And those friendships come in handy when you need advice, a blurb, someone to brainstorm with, or just a word of encouragement later.
Fans. If you’re a published author, chances are you’re going to meet a fan or two at a conference. And trust me on this, there’s nothing more rewarding than to have a total stranger tell you that they enjoyed your book and ask you to sign a copy. The part of this experience that affects me the most is to hear a fan speak of my characters as if they were real. You can’t buy that feeling of fulfillment at any price.
Pitching. At ThrillerFest and other conferences, you get the opportunity to meet agents and editors. If your goal is to acquire a new agent or find a publisher, there’s no better place.
There are many great reasons to attend conferences like ThrillerFest, not the least of which is you’ll have a blast. For those that have attended, what memorable experiences can you share with us? Was it worth your while to travel to a distance city for a conference? Any other reasons to attend or tips to remember?