I spent the bulk of today at the Jacob Javits Convention Center attending the Writers' Digest Writers Conference. I've been to and taught at many writers' conferences over the years, so this one day conference was no surprise to me. There were some nuances, however, that I believe other writers' conferences might want to think about including.
(1) It was a stroke of genius to include a one day writers conference PRE book convention (which begins on Friday, June 1). It just makes the connection to the industry side of writing that much more poignant and practical.
(2) The keynote speaker, Jodi Picoult, was a surefire hit! She was one of the few gifted authors I've had the pleasure of listening to who actually speaks as well as she writes. She's entertaining, encouraging, and educational. I never do this, but I bought one of her books and stood in line to have her sign it. I can't wait to read NINETEEN MINUTES.
(3) Feed people well. Our $199 conference fee included an incredible lunch served with elegance. I had the chance to meet writers from all over the world today. We all seem to share the same passions. It amazes me.
(4) Have the people writers want to meet there. There were at least 30 agents in attendance who took 3 minute "pitch" appointments from anyone who wanted to talk to them. It was well organized (not a feeding frenzy) and beneficial to many.
(5) Include workshops about the industry side of writing. There were two workshops in particular that were wonderful. One was led by someone in the sales end of things who explained what it takes to get our books actually placed in stores. It was an eye opener. The other was a mock pub board meeting. There were representatives from every arm of one publishing house who put an editorial pitch through the paces. It too helped make sense out of the things that usually go on behind closed doors.
Otherwise, it was a typical writers conferences.
In the evening we traveled to Staten Island to my aunt's house where many of my cousins gathered to welcome us and celebrate my birthday. My cousin, Louie (the one in the first blog entry about NY who grew up to become a NY firefighter) was there and we always have a good time when we're together. I'm having trouble uploading that photo, but hopefully I can figure it out soon. Check back later to see.
We took the Staten Island Ferry and a subway home and didn't arrive back at our hotel until 1 a.m. Quite exhausted, we fall asleep to the sounds of a city that never seems to sleep.