The Benefits of Conventions and Conferences by Coco Ihle

What is the difference between conventions and conferences? My belief is that conventions are mainly for fans, but are also attended by writers, agents, editors, and publishers; whereas conferences are geared more toward the craft and business of the writing and publishing world.

I like to include both for a well-rounded perspective. My field is mystery and I classify what I write as traditional, maybe even cosy books. When deciding which to choose, my eye is open to how I can learn the most about my craft and whether or not I have the opportunity to meet other authors to ask what has and hasn’t worked for them. I also look for the chance to meet potential fans.

Another benefit to going to conventions and conferences is the infectious enthusiastic atmosphere that permeates every nook and cranny there. I started attending these events years before I had a book published,
and upon returning home, I couldn’t wait to get back to my writing in progress. I was refreshed and filled with the desire to exercise some of the ideas I had just learned, to try out a new approach with my characters or plot, or just bask in the delight of the new friendships I had made.

At first, smaller venues seemed to provide me with the most “bang for my buck” by the very fact that there were more opportunities and time to make the connections I wanted. The larger ones were good for showing me more of the whole picture and exposing me to more genres.

For beginners, I would suggest starting at smaller cons and conferences and work your way to larger ones. That way your experiences won’t be so overwhelming. Bouchercon, for instance, can seem a bit intimidating to a
newbie, although thrilling in its immenseness.

Everyone, these days, talks about the importance of networking. Cons and conferences are perfect occasions for this. Putting away your shy streak is tough, but necessary. Meet everyone you can. You’re most likely a reader, a fan. Start by complimenting a favorite author. If you don’t have one, you certainly will by the end of the event—probably several. Be brave, you’ll be so glad you were.

I’m off to Bouchercon next week. Wish me luck!


Filed under books, fiction, marketing, musings, writing

12 responses to “The Benefits of Conventions and Conferences by Coco Ihle

  1. Have a great time at B’Con, Coco–surely the king of ’em all! I hope to see you at either next year’s or next’s. This is a great profile on the subject. Such fun ways to focus on craft and meet some of the greats. I would add that for emerging writers–especially those who have a manuscript completed or near to completion–Pitch conferences specifically targeted to meeting agents and editors can be career-changing.

  2. Have fun at Bouchercon! That’s a really great one!

  3. Excellent advice, Coco. Best of luck at Buchercon.


  4. Brenda

    Have a happy & successful time! I’ll look forward to hearing all about this year’s Bouchercon

  5. Thanks, Brenda. I’m already worn out getting ready! Just kidding. It’ll be fun! I’ll write about it later.

  6. Thank you, Carol and Diane. And Jenny, you are so right! How could I leave that out?! Thanks for mentioning it!

  7. I love conventions! The energy and networking are fantastic. I’m missing Bouchercon this year for the first time since I started going, and it’s killing me. Next year. Have fun!

  8. Oh, I’ll miss you at B’con, LJ. Rats! I’ve been to a bunch myself, but this is the first time as an author. BTW, I love your reviews on Dorothyl!!!!!

  9. Good luck – hope it will be the best ever. Marie with ALMA

  10. Networking and continued learning is important–especially in this field and craft. Thanks for the advice!

    • You are very welcome, Christine. Sorry for the delay in my responce. I just returned from Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. It was fantastic!
      Good luck with your work!

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