I had to go to part of the annual conference put on by the Writer’s League of Texas today. Blooming Tree had a small exhibit we were manning so local authors could learn about our press. I should have been helping out longer, but my cat is sick and I ended up having to leave after only an hour and a half to take her to the vet. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t much point in our having been there. No matter what we said, none of the authors seemed to believe that we were a traditional press that offered royalties and advances and not some sort of self-printing gimmick. It was depressing and tiresome.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to some tremendous conferences. The very first SCBWI one that I ever attended held in Roanoke, VA, did a fantastic job. The two editors who spoke at it were friendly, helpful people, and I’m not just saying that because I drove them around for the weekend and they not only inspired me to become an editor but also gave me pertinent advice on how to go about doing it. They also gave informative speeches at the actual conference and had useful advice and relevant answers to people’s questions. I came away inspired.

On the other hand, the Writer’s League of Texas conference that I spoke at last year was the most disorganized thing I ever saw. When I went to check in, I introduced myself as one of the editor’s speaking at the conference. After a frenzied moment of looking for my material, the girl found it in a second pile. She then assured me that I wasn’t “a real editor, just a speaker.” It was a gratifying moment that made me feel I had come far in my writing career. They had asked me to talk about how to get a children’s book published. I opened the program to discover I was giving a speech titled “The Dos and Donts of Children’s Book Publishing.” I admit that the two are similiar but not quite the same. I went home that night and reworked my speech and handouts. The next day, they moved my section to a different room without telling anyone, except apparently me and anyone who specifically asked. This did not include the person introducing me (one of my authors) who only strode in fifteen minutes with a small gaggle of people who had been waiting with her in the other room. I hadn’t even known someone was suppossed to introduce me, so I didn’t even realize anything was remiss before she stormed in. Hopefully, this year’s conference had been better organized, I wasn’t there long enough to be able to tell.

So my question is: What do you think of conferences? What have your experiences been like? If you could have any topic covered or see any speaker at your dream conference, what would it be? Use the comment link below to post. There are no right or wrong answers. I’d just like to know what others think.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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