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February 22, 2012

            Throughout the country, there are many writer’s conferences. They vary in length from hours to several days. Some cost as little as free up to thousands of dollars. The little ones will have no featured guests while others have a vast array of high-powered big Kahunas to whet the appetite of any budding writer. Which ones are the best?

            I can only speak from my personal experience and anecdotal evidence. With that in mind, my biases are up front. Outside of that personal experience, what I’ve learned for comparison from talking to other people has opened my eyes. I am of the firm belief that what we have here in Las Vegas is one of the best writer’s conferences in the nation.

            I won’t list all the examples I’ve heard over the years, but I’ll name a few pointed ones that really stood out to me. One of our members, at great expense, flew out to New York to attend a writer’s conference. It was one of the biggies with lots of high-powered agents, publishers and writers. The cost of the conference let him know it too. To add insult to injury, on top of that, if he wanted to get his five minutes with an agent, he had to pay more money on top of that! Going with the flow, our budding writer paid the big bucks for the main event which was a few classes he could just as easily get here in Las Vegas at our conference. He then wanted to rub elbows with the big boys, which he did at the dinners and breaks between sessions. Finally, he wanted to pitch to an agent. He paid his extra money, I forget how much, to pitch to this one agent (by this time he couldn’t afford to pitch to any more), went into this hallway with several hundred other people waiting to pitch to their agents, and waited for hours to get into see him or her. When he finally did, the agent was tired, pissed off, bored and ready to go home. He gave his pitch, was told no thanks, and that was it. He’d blown his wad and didn’t have the inclination to try that mess again, besides the fact that all the other agents were fully booked. I think he spent over $1500 total for the trip and came away with little more than an empty wallet and bragging rights.

            On the other hand, I’ve heard directly from some pretty high-powered agents that we’ve had at our conferences that ours is one of the better organized and better prepared in the nation. Since I work on the staff each year as a volunteer, I get to listen to this stuff on a regular basis. To hear these comments from literary people every year says something. If it were just once in a while, I could say it was just the agent blowing smoke where the sun don’t shine. When I hear it year after year from many different agents, well… maybe, just maybe there’s something to it.

            Enough of that.

            I’ve always found the conferences well worth it because even though I’ve ultimately been turned down 90% of the time, I got more action from talking to an agent face-to-face than I ever did through the mail. That is just a plain fact. Remember in the last article where I mentioned 659 rejections? At these conferences I’ve only pitched to maybe 25 agents total. I got positive responses out of 15 of them. Of the 644 agents I sent letters to, I only got positive responses out of 25 agents in 17 years. Some of them with the exact same pitch letters!

            All I’m saying is it’s worth a shot at least once, if not to get an agent or a publisher, just for the experience alone. If you have to make payments or what have you, it’s a chance to really get to know this calling we call writing.

            I’m done.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2012 3:37 am


    I had a similar experience going to the worlds largest book expo in NYC last year. What a bomb. Even the agency representing my publisher told me to get away from my books where I wanted to leave a few cards….a no-no! I was supposed to be there three days but stayed one, and ended up going to my hometown a few miles down the road. I rented a car to visit many of my family and friends in the NY, Connecticut area, best decision I ever made. I spent a lot money for nothing but learned a lesson. I learned that I still hated New Yorkers.

    • February 23, 2012 1:25 am


      Wow, so you took the plunge and tried one of the big ones. I don’t know of many people that came away from them happy. Glad you at least got to see your family!

      Thanks for the comments and the confirmation!


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