Monday, January 14, 2013

Hunting the Wild Writing Conferences

Tracy Hickman's Killer Breakfast @ CONduit 2011
So you wanna bag a writing conference, but don't know where to start. Fortunately, writing conferences are everywhere. You can find them online and, I'd wager, in every major city. Most will present usable information, but it's up to you to sift through all the offerings to decide which ones right for you. Remember, these conferences are to help you perfect your craft and network in the industry.

Note: The conferences I discuss are the ones I'm aware of at the current time. I'm sure there are a host of others that are just as great that I'm not aware of. Basically... do your research.

I'll talk more about conference expenses next week, just know that a conference, workshop, or retreat can run anywhere from $25 to $1500. And that's not including airfare or accommodations. But more on that next week...

Recognize the Big Fish
There are a handful of conferences that are considered the staple of the conference scene. Depending on your writing, some will pertain to you while the others won't. If you go to these, be prepared to network your socks off (i.e. Have your business cards, logline, & pitch, ready--do NOT take manuscripts).
As I mentioned in last weeks blog, some of these conferences have varying degrees of fandom. Be sure to research the right one for you.

Applications Only
In addition to the big conferences, there are several instructional retreats that you have to submit applications to attend. These are the ones I know of:
I Recommend: LTUE
There are many smaller workshops that can provide excellent writing instruction in addition to a host of networking opportunities. One of my favorites is the Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE), symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's hosted annually in Utah and cashes in on the bevy of local writers including: David Farland, John Brown, Bree Despain, James Dashner, Jessica Day George, Tracy & Laura Hickman, Blake Casselman, Jeff Scott Savage, Michael R. Collings, Michaelbrent Collings, Larry Correia, Robison Wells, Brad R. Torgersen, Tristi Pinkston, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Brandon Sanderson. And that's not even the whole list! Some writers won't be available to attend based on their commitments, and some big names come in from out of state, but LTUE has the most writers I've ever seen in one place.

The best thing about LTUE? The price! Registration for LTUE is currently running at $30 for all three days. And if you have a student i.d. it's completely FREE! This makes LTUE an incredible deal for those that have to travel to the conference, because all you have to pay for is your living expenses (hotel, food, transportation). If you have a writing buddy who lives close to the Provo area, you can even cut your cost down more.

Meals are NOT provided at LTUE and there are no slotted 'meal' times. What that means is that you can attend presentations from 9am to 9pm. Usually I find a time slot where none of the presentations grab my interest, and I slip off to grab a bite.

Want some samples?
Lessons On Story From The Hunger Games - John Brown
Story Stucture [1 of 5] - Dan Wells
Hunting the Spectrum
There are a LOT more conferences out there. Watch for ads in writing magazines for ones you might be interested in. I have a short list of conferences on a blog page here, but the links below will point you in the direction of some of the more obscure offerings.
Good hunting!


  1. Tony!--You forgot to mention the conference that gave us our meager beginnings! Dave Wolverton's Death Camp!:)
    Great information--I had no idea LTUE was so cheap!

  2. I'm totally a conference junkie. And what's funny, is that I live in Utah, but haven't done any of the big Utah conferences. I need to get on that!

  3. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll always come away from a conference with a new nugget of knowledge.
    Oh, and you might run into Tony here.

  4. I want to go to a conference!! LTUE is the best one I've been to by far for panels. (WorldCon was best for networking, but I hear World Fantasy is better.)

    I want to go to a conference so badly this year, but I don't know if I'll make it. There certainly isn't anything good up here! :/


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