I recently attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (http://www.sfwriters.org) held February 12 – 14. Let me say just one word about this conference – AMAZING!
Well, actually I have a few more words than that to describe this fantastic gathering of editors, agents, writers and other folks within the publishing community. A lot more.
Let me start with saying I met some fascinating and talented people during the course of the conference. The variety of interests, backgrounds, and works of these professionals is astounding to this newcomer. It was like stepping into a bookstore – even though some had similar titles or maybe even similar areas of focus, each one was unique and full of surprises.
People are like books. They are walking stories filled with the scenes and chapters that make up their lives. Some fit in specific genres, others are crossovers, or slipstream, or whatever you may want to call it. And you never know what’s inside until you crack open the cover.
One person I met was a former military pilot. That’s all they said about their time in the military. But as conversations developed with this person, I started listening to the variety of places they’d been in, and realized this was no ordinary pilot. Moreover, it wasn’t what they said, but what they didn’t say, that made me realize the special ops background of this person. Talk about a rich palette of landscapes and experiences to draw from! But I also understood that it wasn’t all fun and adventure. You don’t walk away from that business without haunting memories of loss and regret. I felt fortunate to have met this person and wish them all the best (out of respect for them, I’ve used the genderless ‘they’ intentionally).
And that is really what the primary purpose of this conference is – to meet people, to network, to make connections. Agents and publishers come to these conferences to see old friends and find new talent. You are given opportunities to ask questions, have your writing reviewed, and even submit your work to professionals who normally don’t accept unsolicited material.
The seminars and workshops that take place throughout the day are filled with information on both the technical aspects of writing and how to navigate the rough waters of getting published. I gained insights from every one that I attended and regretted missing many of the others.
The conference schedule was quite impressive. There were five to six workshops every hour, along with other activities, beginning at 9:00am and ending at 7:00pm (or later). Many of the presenters only speak at one or two conferences per year, but this particular one seems to be favorite.
The Larson-Pomada Literary Agency ( http://www.larsen-pomada.com/lp/index.cfm ), is California’s oldest, and is the primary sponsor and host of the SF Writers Conference. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada put San Francisco on the publishing map when they moved from New York and established their agency over 40 years ago. Thanks to their efforts, San Francisco is the second largest publishing center in the country (New York is the first for those who are new to the biz).
So if you truly want to get published, then you need to make a point of attending writers’ conferences. They are held throughout the year and I strongly encourage you to invest in your writing career and attend one or more. Who knows – you may meet the person who can open the door that will allow you to see your book sitting on a shelf in your local bookstore.