Today I have the opportunity to interview Nichole Giles. She is the author of The Sharp Edge of the Knife and Mormon Mishaps and Mischief. Wow, talk about versatility; she has written comedy and a real life thriller.
Nichole also has two blogs where she splits her time. The first covers writing concerns and with the second one she reviews books. Take some time and check both of them out.
I interviewed Nichole about Writing Conferences. Until an author has a couple of these under their belt, conferences can be a bit intimidating. If you’ve been contemplating whether you should attend one in your area, this interview should help you decide.
Randy: What is your favorite writing conference and why?
Nichole: That’s a hard question to answer, because each conference has a little different feel, a little different style, and for me, a different purpose. And in
(where I live) there are quite a lot of local conferences from which to choose every year. At least one every two months or so. The LDS Storymakers spring conference packs a whole lot of classes and workshops into two or three days of conferencing, and the price is phenomenal as compared to the benefits. That’s definitely one of my favorites. Also, this year I attended my first WorldCON. Definitely, absolutely worth my money, my time, and all the energy it required. I hope to make WorldCON a conference I attend every year. Utah
Randy: At what stage in an author’s career should they start attending writing conferences?
Nichole: As soon as you decide to start writing. There is so much to be learned from other authors, and nothing more empowering than connecting with other creators who understand the ins and outs of our creative sides.
Randy: Does the size of the conference have any impact on how worthwhile it is to attend? What are the advantages of a bigger or smaller conference?
Nichole: I think it depends on your individual purpose and where you are in the process. For instance, something like WorldCON might not be as beneficial for a beginning writer as it is for an advanced one, because while panels are interesting and informative, they don’t necessarily get into the nuts and bolts side of things the way a smaller conference or workshop environment might. However, the networking opportunities are incredible for an author on the verge of breaking in. And when you’re at that stage, networking is a key factor in career building.
There are definite benefits to smaller conferences as long as you choose them wisely. Smaller, more intimate settings better allow personalized face time with industry professionals who might otherwise be lost in the crowd of a larger conference. And if the small conferences also include workshops in which you get professional feedback on your work, all the more value.
Or, for a shorter answer, there are definite benefits to both small and large conferences. It’s all about the current needs of each individual.
Randy: What tips can you give to first time conference attendees?
Nichole: Don’t be afraid to talk to your favorite authors, or anyone else for that matter. We’re all there for the same purpose, even if we’re at different stages of progression. Talking to people is the single most important benefit writers get from in-person conferences. If you have an opportunity to make a personal connection with someone, don’t let it pass. You will regret it.
Randy: How would your conference tips to first time attendees differ from those you’d give to a published author? How is the focus and need on conferences differ between the two groups?
Nichole: I think first time attendees tend to get easily overwhelmed. It’s important to take what you can from each conference, and leave the rest for later processing. My suggestion is that you not try to cram in too much, even if you think you HAVE to get to every single class. Make sure you take a minute to breathe, get a snack, use the restroom, and talk to other attendees.
Toward the end of the day, some published authors who have been regular attendees at conferences can be found lingering in hallways. Not because we don’t need to keep learning (we totally do) but because we’ve been to enough conferences that we’ve found our personal limits—that place at which we risk burnout of the brain—and this is our way of preventing that.
As far as focus goes, I think there is a distinct difference in class / workshop needs between new writers and published authors. Again, though, it’s a personal call. For instance, someone who is just getting started might be better off attending writing-type classes, while published authors might attend marketing ones. Both types are necessary and important for each set of people, but sometimes it’s a matter of deciding what you need to know
NOW, rather than trying to cram in information you won’t need for a year or more.