I am all for writers conferences. I’ve been attending them for about twenty-five years, and have co-chaired four and a half of them.
I participated in last week’s WriteOnCon — a free online conference for children’s writers. I am slowly catching up on day three because I was out of town for a week. During my absence, I thought of a few differences between online writers conferences and live writers conferences, and thought I’d share them.
1) Cost. WriteOnCon was free. Our 2-day fall SCBWI-MI conference — which I’m attending — costs between $235 and $285, plus attendees must arrange for our own overnight accommodations.
2) Information. Both forms make my head ache with overload of things to absorb. Both have things for new-to-the-business writers and seasoned, published writers. Online offered far more speakers, but live speakers can be approached.
3) Networking. This can work well for both types of conferences. Online can be a bit more difficult, but you can also meet people from around the world. On the live side, depending on your personality, meeting an editor for the first time in person can terrify some. An editor once told me the story of a face-to-face critique at a conference, where as soon as the writer sat down, she burst into tears from being so close to an actual editor.
4) Presentations. Live conferences have… well, live speakers, with question and answer times. Online conferences have YouTube videos, or live chats, or written talks (like a blog post).
5) Fashion. Spending a couple months deciding what to wear to a live conference (and usually changing my mind the night before) v.s. pajamas or grubs.
Personally, I appreciate both types of conferences. I appreciate the work which conference organizers put into making conferences dynamic and memorable information houses for willing-to-learn writers. I appreciate speakers willing to give of their time and knowledge, and to possibly pick up some new clients or authors or illustrators, which is, of course, every attendee’s hope. And I love meeting fellow writers who generally huddle together, us against the world.
Keep on learning. Keep on writing.