Since this month’s theme was about conferences and pitching, and I’ve never done the latter, I’m going to stick with conferences. I’m from the UK and haven’t yet made it to a US conference, it’s just sooo expensive for me to get there, which makes me sad on a huge scale. However, since I can’t afford to get to the US, I promised myself that I’d try to get to as many UK events as possible.
From what I can tell, they’re on a much smaller scale than the US conferences, and are much more “British” – that is, there are no parties, balls, fancy dress, etc. Or at least if they do have them, they’re not quite so lavish. The events are much more about panels, readings, seminars and networking.
I’ve had the good fortune to attend several different events, and have found them all useful in their own ways. A dedicated GLBTQ event gave me lots of information about the genres, and made me realise how much in the minority I was for writing lesbian fiction (though this is changing rapidly). It was also great for networking.
Another event focussed on romance, so again, as an erotica and erotic romance writer I was in the minority, but several publishers who publish erotica and erotic romance were there, so there was a small representation. I’m hoping more authors will attend the same event this year. It was at this event last year that I appeared on my first panel which was well-attended and had some great questions asked. It made me feel much more comfortable about appearing on panels and being around people that write mainstream romance, as opposed to erotic romance. Other writers tend to be much more open to the genre than non-writers, realising of course that there’s such a thing as imagination! I found this event very beneficial in terms of networking, and losing my fear of speaking in public, especially to non-erotic writing folk!
London hosted an event focussed on erotica in general, not just writing. One of my publishers had a great presence there and sponsored readings and panels, both of which I took part in. Again, this was a great experience. I was able to meet several readers, who asked me to sign some books, which was fab, and excellent for the ego. I enjoyed spending time with my fellow erotic writer buddies, and meeting some others for the first time.
Finally, I attended a conference aimed specifically at erotic writers and sex bloggers. I was actually there in my PR & Marketing capacity, doing a talk on promoting your work. Naturally, though, I chatted to people about writing, met some more readers, writers and sex bloggers that I’ve chatted with online over the years. Although the event was great in terms of networking and meeting new people, it did lean slightly more favourably towards the sex bloggers, and there were no dedicated events to promote published authors, i.e. readings.
A couple of the above conferences did have sessions available where writers could go and pitch to editors, but I didn’t partake. Mainly because I’m a wimp, and like to have finished a piece of work before sending it off. I think I’d go to pieces if I did the whole sending three chapters off, then finishing it if somebody wants it thing. Not to mention I could sell myself a lot more eloquently by email than face-to-face. I tend to talk rubbish if I’m nervous, so at least by email I can check I haven’t said something stupid. Having said that, I’m confident enough to go up and introduce myself to someone just for the sake of it. Whether it’s because I’ve worked with them but never met them face to face, or because I’d like to work with them. I can do that part, and have done several times in the past.
Overall, I definitely find conferences useful. I get to talk to fellow writers, publishers, readers, and establish relationships and friendships. Some have opportunity to hand out promotional materials, do readings and sell books, too. But even if they don’t, they’re still valuable in terms of talking to people who could help you in the future, and vice versa. Granted, these events won’t suit everyone, but as someone who’s happy to get out there and do readings, signings and network, they’re great. And until I can afford to get myself to one of the big US conferences, I’ll keep gaining the experiences I can from events I can afford to go to!
In the UK and interested in attending some events? I’m going to these:
And here’s a totally unnecessary photo of a hot guy: