Tuesday, May 1, 2007

So many conferences so little time

Todd and I returned on Saturday from the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention (in Houston this year) where his Novelist's Boot Camp was a huge success--standing room only. As often happens several of the attendees asked him to come to their neck of the woods and put on a boot camp for their particular writers group.

The irony is that we have limited time available to tour the country putting on boot camps because of our day jobs but we can't afford to quit our day jobs. Our day jobs come with perks we would not be able to replace as self-employed writers. The benefits that big business can provide - health coverage, retirement plans, paid vacations (to go to writer's conferences)- are too important to overlook. Ergo the saying - Don't quit your day job!

At the same time conferences can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars (depending on travel, hotel and registration fees) and often writers need a day job to fund their writing expenses. Another reason not to quit your day job.

Why go to conferences? This is an important question for writers to answer for themselves given the expense and time often involved. Promotional opportunities and book signing fairs are often the main reasons. Workshops are usually available on a variety of topics that are important to a writer's career - yes I said career!

For aspiring (and sometimes published) authors a main attraction of conferences and conventions is the opportunity to meet editors and agents face-to-face and to network with them in a way that will hopefully get their manuscript on an editors desk.

Over the years Todd and I have attended many conferences and conventions both local and far away and one thing that has resonated again and again is how many aspiring writers have not done the one thing that all editors and agents want - finish the book. An idea only gets a novice writer so far in this business.

Finishing and polishing the book is the central theme of Novelist's Boot Camp and some editors have specifically recommended Novelist's Boot Camp to aspiring writers, which makes us very happy. In fact, if it weren't for Novelist's Boot Camp I probably wouldn't have a completed first draft myself which I'm now polishing using many of the drills in Novelist's Boot Camp.

In addition to my completed first draft, I have ten beginning novels with anywhere from three to five chapters written and I would bug (probably annoy) Todd with my frustration that I couldn't seem to get past this point in my writing. I often tell people that he wrote the book because of me and all the questions I asked. Now he can just say - RTFB (my variation on geek speak for RTFM - Read the you-know-what Manual). Of course, Todd doesn't say this - he's too much of a professional and a gentleman - but I do read the pieces of Novelist's Boot Camp whenever I need them and I can honestly say that I'm glad that he wrote the you-know-what book!

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