conference

A Publisher’s experience at a Writers’ Conference

Last month I had the honour of attending the second annual Windsor Writers Conference. For writers, a writers conference is a place to hone their writing skills by attending workshops, listening to guest speakers, approaching experts, and networking with other writers. For publishers, the experience and the goal of the conference is a little different.

Let me walk you through it. The conference began on Thursday with a ‘pre-conference day’ where some attendees were there specifically to meet with agents, publishers, and editors that they might like to work with or that they could simply get some advice and feedback from. After sitting on a panel where we introduced ourselves and talked about what kinds of books and authors we represented, I met with groups of three to five authors to read their work. At these round tables as we called them the writers not only received feedback from me, but also from the other writers at the table. My table tended to finish before the time was up, so we also had a chance to talk a little more about publishing in general and Mirror World in specific.

That night I was invited to a dinner with all the guest speakers, agents, and other publishers that had mostly come in from out of town. It was a great networking opportunity for me as I got to meet industry experts, including bloggers, marketers, syndicated columnists, novelists, and agents. Also, the Dim Sum was excellent!

Friday the conference began in earnest. I attended the guest speakers lectures where I could between meeting one on one with writers who had taken an interest in Mirror World and wanted to pitch to me, or learn more about what we do. The Windsor International Writers Conference is known for being a place where writers connect with agents and publishers and has a history of seeing contracts happen, so it was exciting to be a part of that tradition and to take a look at ‘submissions’ in person. And, in fact, I was able to find several very talented writers that I was able to ask to submit to us more formally, so hopefully we can have some good news on that front for next year’s line up of new releases.images

Saturday the one on one meetings continued, but the focus was primarily on the events of the conference. An aboriginal playwright came to give a talk and read a part of her play and we also had a mexican feast in addition to the guest speakers for that day.

Sunday morning was closing ceremonies and on this last day, I again sat on a panel with the experts I had come to know and we answered all sorts of questions about the publishing process from manuscript to agent to editor to publisher and finally to market. Come to think of it, that might be a great blog topic to cover later on. That’s all for now, though. If you have any questions or thoughts about Writers Conferences, please leave them in the comments below!

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Everything you need to know about Writers Conferences

This past weekend I attended the Windsor International Writers Conference – and what an experience that was! Not only was this my first time attending a writers conference, but it was also my first time attending that kind of event as a publisher, which as it turns out, adds a whole new perspective to the whole thing.

The biggest barriers to attending an event like this are fairly obvious. People often have the following misconceptions.:

  1. There aren’t any near me
  2. I won’t learn anything I don’t already know
  3. It’s not worth the expense

Well, first of all, there are A LOT of writers conferences and similar events. There are genre specific ones, and general ones. There are some that are members only and some that are for everybody. And, if you’re local to us there’s now one in Windsor, sowelcome-to-windsor you won’t have to travel very far. If you do have to travel, or the one you want to go to is further away, sometimes it is worth the trip anyways, even if you only go once. There were a number of people I met at the Windsor International Writers Conference who had come as far as Seattle, or Little Rock, Arkansas and these people brought a different perspective with them and were well worth meeting.

For the second point, it is simply untrue. Writing is an art and as such it is something that you should always be working at improving. It is also a very solitary undertaking most of the time, so it helps to get out of your head and meet people who get what it’s like to do what you do. And on the publishing side of things, there is always so much to learn. The industry is constantly evolving and if you are a writer who wants to see their books on the shelves, then you need to make connections within the industry or at the very least learn what it takes to bring your book to market as a self-publisher.

Lastly, the most common objection I hear is about the cost. The actual figures vary from conference to conference and I agree that on the surface they look a little high, but now having been to a conference I can tell you with no hesitation – you are getting your money’s worth.

Here’s an example of what registration (incl. Pre-conference and post-conference) covered at the 2016 Windsor International Writers Conference:

~2 roundtable intensive workshops with a publisher or agent.
~Optional 1 on 1 meetings with publishers or agents of your choice.
~Several Panels featuring publishers, agents, authors, and editors
~All meals and beverages during the official hours of the conference
~A welcome bag including pens, paper, and a program
~Guest speakers on various topics incl. Branding, blogging, researching, self-publishing, query letters, synopsis, perspective, and voice.
~Entertainment in the evenings incl. Music, theater, and a Mexican fiesta.
~Workshops, incl. Poetry and screenwriting.
~Contests for poetry, short story, opening paragraph, and descriptions. The winners of which were awarded free attendance to next year’s conference.

I hope that helps to clarify the value of a writers conference. If you’d like to know more, come back next week (or subscribe to this blog) for part two of this post when I share my experience as a publisher at this event.

coverrevealTNS copy

In the meantime, I would like to remind you all that the Cover Reveal for Elizabeth J. M. Walker’s This Night Sucks is this Friday, the 13th here on the blog and then next week Black Lightning by K.S. Jones goes live on May 17th! It’s not too late to pre-order this book. In fact, you can do so here.

Your Invite to the Windsor International Writers Conference

welcome-to-windsorPersonally, I love Windsor. The place has some history and the people here are the most down to earth and friendly of all the Canadian cities I’ve lived in. I attended University here and after three year stint in Ottawa, I decided to come back,settle down and eventually start Mirror World. I returned because I missed the laid back atmosphere, the vibrant art community and the ability to live in a city while still feeling like it’s okay to take your time and talk to the people you meet. The other thing that’s great about Windsor is the entrepreneurial spirit you’ll find here. Even when the economy was at its lowest, you still found small businesses popping up trying to make the best of it.

It is for these reasons that I am exceptional proud to be able to say that this year Windsor is hosting its second annual Windsor International Writers Conference from May 5th to 8th at the Holiday Inn on Huron Church Rd. Geared towards writers of all experience levels, the conference boasts a weekend full of guest speakers, workshops, networking, food, and exhibitors.

In addition to all that, there will be a number of publishers, agents and industry professionals there so you can make contacts, get advice and even sign up to have your manuscript critiqued. I’ll be there too, so if you’re looking to meet me now’s your chance!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an author-publisher in Windsor it’s that this city has a whole lot of talent. We’re bursting at the seams with creative people and writers in particular as evidenced by the overwhelming attendance at the Local Authors and Artists Festival last year and the Windsor-Essex Book Expo in the years before that. So if you are a writer in Windsor or  near enough to travel to us, I strongly recommend registering for the Windsor International Writers Conference this year before space runs out. That way you can meet me  along with the rest of what the Windsor writing community has to offer.

Justine Alley Dowsett