Fast-forward a few years, and I had a few published books to my name. Now, I was also giving workshops at these conferences, sharing what I knew about the craft. When I moved from Florida to Colorado, I had different "local" conferences to consider, and discovered reader-focused gatherings. I confess that when I went to my first Left Coast Crime, I expected it to be the equivalent of the Florida based SleuthFest I'd attended for years, and had to make a rapid shift in expectation.
What's the difference? At a writer's conference, such as RWA or any of its chapter conferences, or SleuthFest, which is mystery-based, it's about advancing a writing career. There are workshops or panels where published authors, editors, or agents share tips for moving forward in the industry. You don't have to be a published author to attend—these conferences are great places for networking with other authors and meeting the people in the industry. Normally, they'll have agents and editors in attendance who will listen to book pitches. They might have critique sessions. And they'll definitely have workshops that will teach you about writing and publishing.
However, whereas in a writer's conference a workshop on setting would tell you how important it is, and would give you a "lesson" in how to develop setting in your book. At a reader's conference, the panel will be a discussion of where each author sets his or her books, and why they chose that setting. Same goes for characters, or genre, or anything else. The goal is to entice readers to pick up the books, and also to let them know you're a real, live, person.
And, frankly, it takes a different mind-set when you attend a conference like this as an author. You're wearing a marketing hat, not a writing hat. I'm not very good at that, but I did have a great time.
|Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.|