Plus: which writing conferences you should actually attend.

Hi there,


Welcome to a new edition of Reedsy’s marketing newsletter! For most of us in the northern hemisphere, this wonderful time of year is marked by blooming flowers, chirping birds, and long, sunny evenings.


For me in particular, spring also marks the start of the “conference season,” where I get to travel here and there to meet authors in person through various writers’ conferences.


Which begs the question: how helpful are writing conferences in the first place? Are they worth attending — and when?


Well, first, we need to figure out what we mean by “writing conferences.” There are different types of conferences that authors may attend out there, and some are not helpful at all.

The book fairs

Perhaps most famous among publishing conferences are the book fairs: the London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, and the now defunct Book Expo America.


Outside of a few cases, I can say with confidence that attending book fairs will be a waste of time. Such book fairs are meant for agents, publishers, and booksellers to negotiate rights deals and distribution. It is not a place where you’ll be able to find an agent (or a publisher) for your book.


The exception is if you’re already a high-selling author with your own publishing company who’s looking to venture into foreign rights or merchandise licensing. But even then, you should already have meetings lined up before you attend the event.

Genre conferences

These conferences are usually organized by genre-specific writing organizations for their members (who are authors like yourself). The most famous one, for a while, was the Romance Writers of America conference. Other notable ones are the SFWA one (for science fiction and fantasy), or Thrillerfest (by International Thriller Writers).


The sessions at a genre conference will include a mix of writing craft and publishing advice. They might not all be relevant to you, but these events present a great opportunity to mingle and network with other authors in your genre — which might be the most valuable thing you can get out of a conference. And while traditionally published authors still dominate many of these organizations, indie authors are gaining more of a foothold.

Indie author conferences

These are similar to genre-specific conferences in that they’re author-centric, except they’re not restricted to any given genre. Instead, they focus on self-publishing first and foremost — and therefore include sessions both on craft, editing, distribution, and marketing.


Here are the four main ones I would recommend to anyone interested in indie publishing: 

  • 20BooksVegas: organized by the 20Booksto50k Facebook group, and hosted every year in Vegas, it is the world’s largest indie author conference — with over 2,000 authors expected in 2022. It welcomes writers of all kinds (from aspiring to six-figure authors), and is a perfect place to meet not only fellow authors, but also representatives from the industry (Kobo Writing Life, Google Play, Draft2Digital, BookFunnel, Reedsy, etc.).

Next: November 14-18, 2022


  • Self-Publishing Show Live: this one is in London, which is particularly helpful for European authors, considering that most of the other big conferences are in the US. The 2022 edition will be on June 28-29, and there are still a few tickets left! It’s similar to 20BooksVegas, but on a smaller scale, and it’s put together by the excellent Self Publishing Formula team.

Next: June 28-29, 2022


  • Inkers Con is a smaller conference that attracts a high caliber of speakers year after year. It’s known for its excellent and exhaustive online program, which includes not only the recorded sessions, but also live Q&As, roundtables, and office hours with industry representatives. It can be a solid option if you’re on a budget, and/or if you can’t justify the in-person attendance.

Next: July 16-31, 2022


  • NINC conference: while 20Books, SPS Live and Inkers Con are open to all kinds of authors, the NINC conference is really meant for NINC members. As an organization, NINC has strict criteria for membership (you need to earn a certain amount of money writing fiction), which raises the level of discussion at this particular conference. It’s a perfect one to consider if you’re already earning a small (or substantial) living from your writing.

Next: September 21-25, 2022


Unconferences

Perhaps my favorite kind of writer events, unconferences are small gatherings with roundtable discussions that are purely participant-led.


In other words, instead of sitting through several presentations every day, you sit in a circle and actively participate in guided discussions, in which everyone can share their relevant experience, and learn from each other. The smaller setting and the fact that anyone can jump in makes for a more lively, rich, and contrasted discussion.


My favorite one is the Indie Unconference Europe, held in Matera each year — one of the most stunning Italian villages I’ve seen — and you’re still in time to register for this year (June 9-12, 2022).


If you’re going to be at any of the above events in the coming months, please come and say hi! I always love to meet people in person, and that’s the main reason why I attend these events in the first place.


In the meantime, happy writing, and happy marketing,

Ricardo


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