Writers’ Conference Tips Part 2: Learning

Writers’ conferences are expensive—concerning both time and money, so how can you make the most of yours? With the following tips! Consider this your guide to navigating the world of writers’ conferences. I’ll be breaking all of the tips into a series of posts. This week, we’ll be learning about…


Learning at Conferences

(And yes, I know that’s redundant.)


Tip #1: Purchase Recordings

Not all conferences offer recordings, but if they do (like ACFW), then buy them. The information is so valuable, and you not only get the classes you attended, but the ones you missed. This way, if you have to leave a class for an appointment, you don’t have to worry about missing out on any key material.


Tip #2: Chose the Classes You Need

You know what stage of writing you’re in, and you know what you need to learn. Take whichever classes resonate with you, the ones that sound fun. Choose the ones that you’d gain the most from experiencing first-hand. And if you purchase the recordings, it’ll free you up to choose the classes you want and need most.


“Make sure to know the schedule beforehand and decide on what classes/talks you’re going to attend. Bring a laptop or notepad to take notes, and focus on writing down facts, numbers, and links rather than motivational snippets that won’t help you when you refer back to them.”

Jamie Foley

Author of the Sentinel Trilogy and Emberhawk


Tip #3: Contests

If you can, try to enter a few contests (even if they’re not associated with the conference) to polish up your manuscript and learn a bit more about writing. A few I’ve entered are First Impressions and The Genesis Contest.


Tip #4: Hand-Written Notes

So maybe your handwriting is bad or perhaps you just don’t like writing things when you can type them. Nevertheless, I’d encourage you to have hand-written notes. According to a study, students who write notes by hand learn more than those that type their notes on a laptop. No matter the conference you’ve selected, it’s probably costed you a small fortune. You need to make the most of it.


Tip #5: Participate

There will be agent panels, opportunities to read your writing aloud, and chances to ask questions. Don’t miss these. Participation adds a whole new dimension to conferences. Even if your heart is rattling inside of your ribcage, just do it. It may be terrifying at first, but you won’t regret it later.


“If there are opportunities to do critique groups, take things to read and volunteer to read. At WTP, the critique times are run by publishers and agents so it’s a great chance to get them to hear something you’ve written. Accept the critiques graciously. Editors want to see that you’re easy to work with. They also want to see your enthusiasm about your work. More and more publishers are relying on the author to sell the books so if you can “sell” people on your book, more books will get sold and everyone will be happy.”

D. Read,

Genesis Semi-Finalist and Finalist

Writers’ Conference Tips Part 1: Agents

Writers’ Conference Tips Part 2: Learning

Writers’ Conference Tips Part 3: Network

Writers’ Conference Tips Part 4: Miscellaneous


What classes do you want to take at writers’ conferences? What do you want to learn? If you could teach a class at a writers’ conference, what would it be on?

Recent Comments

  • Hannah
    April 25, 2016 - 2:24 pm · Reply

    These posts on conferences are fantastic. I would love to go to one sometime when my book is almost finished, so these will be very handy to have for reference.

    I would mostly be interested in teaching about plot structure. It isn’t what I have researched the most, but it is definitely what I am best at. I love plot, and if I can help others with it, that would be fantastic.

    • Elizabeth Newsom
      May 7, 2016 - 12:34 pm · Reply

      You’d be great at teaching plot structure! You’ve already really helped with mine 🙂

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