Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Build Your Platform in Person (by attending live events)

The 2012 Writer's Digest Conference is just around the corner--January 20-22. While I'm not going to be working it this year, I have a few times in the past. New York City is always fun in and of itself, but beyond that, the panels and intensives always inspire me to accomplish great things and the Pitch Slam event (in which writers get to pitch literary agents face-to-face over a 3-hour period) is organized chaos that always seems to produce a success story or two each year. I'm sad to be missing it all.

My friend and Garden Gnome Attack expert, Chuck Sambuchino,
will be one of the presenters at the 2012 Writer's Digest Conference
in New York City January 20-22. Click here for more information.

However, I will be getting out and about a little in 2012, including a panel at AWP in Chicago (with Christina Katz, Jane Friedman, and Seth Harwood) and reading some poetry in Hickory, North Carolina. In fact, Tammy will be able to get out with me to both events (she'll be reading her poetry in Hickory too).

As shy as I can be, I'd be devastated to go a year without any events.

Here's the thing: Social networking online is all fine and dandy, but it's amplified when you actually do it in person. The advice is often better; the inspiration is even stronger; and the connections--the life force behind building a platform--are even deeper.

Personally, I think conferences give you the most bang for your buck. It's great if you can get to one close to home, but I believe taking a trip to hit a conference can really give you a unique vacation experience--that also helps your writing career! (Plus, if you're making money as a freelancer, this can be counted as a business expense for your freelance business.)

Here are some live events writers can attend:
  1. Writing conferences. As I mentioned above, these are my favorites. They often provide lots of information and networking opportunities. Plus, larger ones tend to have nice freebies, and even smaller ones can offer critique and feedback sessions.
  2. Workshops. These are different from conferences, because they are set up with the goal of workshopping your writing. This is a great opportunity, of course, and the smaller group size can help foster life-long connections.
  3. Literary festivals. A highlight of my calendar the past two years has been reading poetry with Tammy at our local Decatur Book Festival here in the Atlanta area. It gives us a chance to get out of the house, share our poems, and hear some other great local, regional and national work. Plus, like any good festival, there's a lot of tasty (and horrible for your health) food.
  4. Open mics. Popular with songwriters and poets alike, open mics afford writers a chance to test out their material and make local connections with other writers.
  5. Book readings and signings. Bookstores and colleges often provide these free events that are meant to sell books. As a father of however many children I have now (I have trouble counting past two), I don't get out to these as much as I used to, but they always inspired me as a college student.
By the way, if anyone can suggest some great Chicago dining establishments, Tammy and I would appreciate it for AWP.


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Jennifer Fromke said...

Skip lunch and get some popcorn from Garrett's. A couple diff. locations on Michigan Ave. The Chicago mix is best: cheese corn mixed with caramel corn. Don't worry, it's the best snack ever, and will fill you up like any meal. :-)

Unknown said...

I would add to this that you should not limit your in person platform building to specifically literary events and organizations. I'm an active member of our local arts organization and that has been a great platform builder for me as a 'literary artist' that connects me with a wide range of people. Involvement in other types of community groups have also led to opportunities to share about my writing. The broader your base the better.