Making the Most of a Writing Conference

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Let’s face it. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have go it alone. You can always do what I do … attend a writing conference, and meet some of the other members of that tribe called writers.

On October 20, I plan to attend the Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University again, something I’ve done every fall for the eleven years it’s been in existence.

It’s a great conference. You’ll find loads of interesting workshops, access to agents and editors … and swarms of writers of various levels, all packaged neatly into a nice, affordable, single-day event.

Conferences like this are a great way to learn about all aspects of writing. You can attend a variety of workshops, gathering methods to turn your ideas into finished stories. You’ll also learn more about trends in the industry and the business side of writing.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on using social media tools like Twitter, and delve into making personal podcasts to develop your writing career and market your stories to readers.

I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction, but if you’re still thinking about traditional publishing, or have an interest in the non-fiction market, the Rochester Writers’ Conference will offer an opportunity to pitch to agents, and talk to a panel of editors.

That experience, in itself, is fabulous. If nothing else, talking directly to agents and editors let’s you examine your own work through a professional’s objective eye.

You might even get comfortable talking about your work – something you’ll definitely need to do when trying to sell someone on your proposals, or when marketing your books.

Even if the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you often need to look no further than those around you. Looking for a good editor? Thinking about arranging speaking engagements? Trying to find a cover or website designer?

Talking to, and connecting with, other writers can be one of the most valuable things about attending a writing conference.

Talk, be friendly, ask questions. You’re with your tribe, after all.

Make the Most of It
Here are some suggestions to ensure a productive experience. First, take a few minutes to plan for the workshops you want.

A word of warning … you probably won’t get to all of them, due to time constraints.

So, pick wisely among the sessions you know will give you the most help. But go beyond that. Challenge yourself and take at least one session on a topic outside your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re a beginning author, with more questions than answers, don’t fret. Most of the sessions are geared to accommodate you. Plus, you’ll find many experienced authors in attendance will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Remember – Elevator Pitch
If you plan to pitch your work to an agent, don’t worry if you’re nervous. Everybody is. Compensate by being over-prepared. Have at least a rough draft ready before you go.

Also, keep it short.

You usually only have sessions of about 15 minutes with an agent so, please, don’t fill your time with nervous apologies, or rambling, inconsequential details of your personal life.

Talk about your book. Give them your elevator pitch.

Tell what your character wants, why he wants it, and what keeps him from getting it. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds. Remind yourself it’s okay not to explain all the details or the final outcome. Stop at a moment of tension and wait.

Let the agent guide the discussion. Find out what’s caught their attention, or what piece is missing. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking, and the main reason you’re talking to them is to hear their feedback and reaction.

Not planning to pitch? Still be prepared to talk about your writing. Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave behind to give to agents, editors and other writers. I actually prefer a bookmark, because I can list my books, too. Besides, I’ve learned they’re harder to lose.

When you attend any conference, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. Not only with professionals in your industry, but a host of your peers. It’s okay to show your personality a little, because that can reflect your writing style.

Just make sure people think it’s a good one.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on Saturday, October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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7 Responses to “Making the Most of a Writing Conference”

  1. Mary Hackstock Says:

    Always love your posts…I think you could also do book covers…you are great at capturing the essence of the material written in picture or artistry. Are you going to be a one of the speakers…you should be! You know all of this so well. Have a wonderful day…enjoy your conference. Love

    Sent from my iSlate


    Liked by 1 person

  2. hellojenbug Says:

    This sounds great Ron. Wish I was at the point of having a rough draft. Getting there. Great information!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Wonnacott Says:

    Hi Ron,
    I’ll probably see you at the Books and Authors Event at Leon and Lulu at the end of the month. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ron Herron Says:

    I’ve never attended the DWW Conference, but know several members. I’m preparing to submit my application for membership for 2019 (found an old newspaper article of mine with a byline). The RWC is a good one. I’ve never failed to learn something new.

    If you get a chance, visit one of my book-signings this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bob Wonnacott Says:

    Great summary of the Rochester Writers Conference. Do you also attend the Detroit Working Writers Annual Conference in November? I have attended DWW for years, but have not gone to Rochester Writers Conference yet. Thanks for posting this review.

    Liked by 1 person

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