Many people sign up for writing conferences hoping they’ll send a manuscript home with an editor, or even better, be offered a contract right there at the conference. Has that ever happened at a conference? Probably. But you’re much more likely to come home with a cold than a contract. Does this mean writing conferences aren’t worth your time and money? Not at all. It does mean that you need to know what you can expect to gain from a conference so you can prepare for all it has to offer.

When choosing a conference to attend, it’s easy to think “big” is “best.” Some writers start right out with one of the two big national conferences from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as their first. But these huge conferences can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to connect with other writers in the bustling conference atmosphere (unless you’ve preplanned to meet up with online friends) and virtually impossible to chat with any of the conference presenters (with the huge number of people in attendance, the conference often has to limit contact for the presenter’s welfare). You will receive a wealth of valuable information, but if it’s your first conference, your overall impression may be that you didn’t “do it right” because you didn’t talk to people much.

Smaller conferences can be better because you’ll get more of a chance to meet other conference attendees, and there is more of a chance to interact with presenters also. However, not all small conferences are created equal. It’s important to choose wisely. One way to do that is to “check out” certain things.

For more advice on how to pick the conference that’s right for you, listen to the whole episode!

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