And I'm back from the NC Writers' Conference! It was held in Greensboro, NC, on April 30 (today, in other words.)
Most of the sessions were for memoir, poetry, or publishing with regional (small) publishers. There was a lot of advice for aspiring poets looking to publish their work, and the exhibit hall had several small publishers advertising, as well as several poetry magazines. There was an open-mike reading at the end of the conference, and the key-note speakers were poets, who talked about how they'd gotten to be well-known and published. After lunch, there was an author reading, where the workshop readers got to read excerpts from their stories/poems. I especially enjoyed Ed Schubert's short story, a very humorous science fiction piece. There was also a chance to sign up to take the workshop readers to lunch.
On the other hand, lunch would have probably been more impressive, had it not been in the university cafeteria, and had the cafeteria realized there was a conference and thus had more stocked than the Chick-fil-a.
I would have gotten much more out of the conference, in fact, had I been a poet or a memoir writer. However, Edward Schubert's seminar in the morning was quite helpful, a small panel for marketing science fiction. And Angela Harwood's afternoon seminar on marketing yourself was useful. Although the small press for which she works only publishes one fiction novel a year (everything else is nonfiction), she made a point to try to address to fiction writers as well. I also took home some very pertinent ideas for e-marketing myself.
Point in fact: Blogs. She suggests that blog posts should be frequent, and short. Frequent posts keep your blog high on the list. Short blogs are more likely to be read. Harwood suggested 3-4 sentences at a time; she made the point that a blog shouldn't be a journal, but method for connecting with readers. Clearly, I need to update more: I'm thinking I may go to a 3-posts-a-week pattern. I might try for one long, informative post and two shorter tidbits. She also suggested that no more than 50% of either tweets or blog posts should be about your book - the rest is networking, drawing in a new audience and keeping your readers interested. All good advice.
Overall review: For a non-poet, a C. There were a limited number of seminars, and the options for fiction writers were minimal. Most of the focus was for small publishers or self-publishing, which isn't much help if you plan to write a novel and get a paycheck for it. Still, I did get some very helpful ideas, and I met a few people. I won't attend again until I have money to spare - I don't think I got quite enough out of it to pay for the cost of the conference ($165, and gas and food.) But, I did get something out of the conference, so I won't count it as a loss.
For a poet, an A. I'd recommend serious poets attend for the contacts and the publishing advice. If you're not planning to make money off writing, but can afford to do it only as a hobby, it's also worth attending. I found out about several small writing "boot camps," including one run by Orson Scott Card. They're very expensive, but include from one to six weeks of intensive writing seminar, including food and board. Would I go? No. I have neither the time nor the money.
If I could afford $600 (before hotel and travel), I would go to the RWA conference in New York. I can't. But StellarCon, RavenCon, and ConCarolinas are all within plausible distance and price, as is Moonlight and Magnolias. I can't help but think about the contacts I could make at a conference dedicated to my genre! Time for me to go digging for conference information... after a nap, that is. u.u-zzzzzz