April 10th, 2008


from the mixed up files of Agent Manners: finding conferences

Dear Miss Manners,

I've become increasingly convinced that the road to publishing requires networking and discussion with people in the industry. I would like to go to a writer's conference. I find such events daunting to say the least, but my social anxieties are beside the point.

My problem is finding conferences that would be beneficial to me. Trying to scour the internet for conferences in my area, around this time of year, concerned with my genre, and/or frequented by agents and publishers I respect seems an impossible task. I have plenty of people recommending that I go to a literary conference, but not how to find the right one. I have a day job and limited income, so taking a trip to New York would be difficult.

Do you know of any resources that provide listings of conferences for easy perusal? Should I bunker down and plan a trip to New York? Should I bring a friend so I don't feel like a small fish in an enormous publishing pond?

Addled in Atlanta

P.S. I write fantasy if that makes a difference.

Dear Addled:

Agent Manners recommends checking out http://writing.shawguides.com/ which has a searchable database by date and region.

Since you are a fantasy writer, you may want to consider saving your pennies for attendance of a World Fantasy Convention. It's about as good as you are going to do in terms of getting a lot of networking in one place. In 2008, it's in Calgary, Alberta, Canada: http://www.worldfantasy2008.org/. Also, DragonCon is in Atlanta every year and they do have a separate workshop and craft track.

That said, while networking may increase your chances of meeting people, getting referrals and so forth, the best way to get published is to write a book no one can put down. Not the agent. Not the editor. Not the B&N buyer. Not the readers. And then repeat. After all, Agent Manners currently represents authors she has never met in person, so obviously networking was not crucial in those cases.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Bear introduced me to Jay Lake, who in turn set up a meeting with Ken Scholes, and he recommended Mary Robinette Kowal, who became a new client of mine last month. (That makes it Mary's turn....) So, it certainly has its advantages. They still all had to write really, really, really, really ridiculously good books.