March 16, 2020

How to Choose a Writing Conference (Part 2)

DiAnn Mills @diannmills

"Expect An Adventure"

To refresh our memory, on March 2, I listed a few considerations in choosing a conference and why attend a writing conference.  Also how these events can benefit a writer's career. Here we will continue finding ways to benefit our careers as a writer. 

Types of Conferences

1. Face-to-Face conferences can be large or small. This involves travel, lodging, meals, and time away from home. But the interaction and meeting professionals face-to-face can mean a potential contract. Writers find critique partners and forge new relationships with those who share the same desire for learning the craft and seeking publication. One-on-one critiques are valuable for relationships and learning. The length of a conference can be from two days to nearly a week.

Large conferences are designed for writers who prefer a variety of agents, editors, and workshops. This setting offers an opportunity to mingle with more of the successful names in the industry. The larger conferences often include a pre-conference and/or post conference at an additional charge. The buzz and excitement are contagious.

Smaller conferences are for writers who are embarking on an adventure with writing. New writers may prefer a smaller number of people until they feel more comfortable in larger settings. A local or smaller conference may appeal to a writer’s budget.

2. Retreats are shorter, registration is limited to a smaller number of writers. The format is a lecture and hands-on learning, and often includes time for writers to practice what has been taught. Retreats create an atmosphere of mentoring/ and personal attention.

Some instructors will travel to a writer’s home for a personal retreat and work with that writer for a day or weekend.

3. Online conferences or webinars are exactly what the name implies. Presenters are streamed live or pre-recorded and scheduled through various platforms. Audio only are conducted through podcasts. Presenters are mindful of convenient viewing times for live presentations or offer recordings for on-demand viewing.

Writers can attend in the privacy of their own homes or with a small group. Some online conferences allow writers to pose questions and have them answered immediately. The online model is less costly and travel expenses, lodging, and meals are eliminated from the budget.

Online conferences are popular for specific niches in developing a writer’s craft, platform, social media, branding, marketing and promotion. They can also be instructional in demonstrating software applications that benefit from show and tell. In short, an online conference or webinar can be a valuable alternative to the busy writer, but the writer needs to be disciplined and not easily distracted.

Reputation is Everything

What do other—agents, editors, publicists, writers—say about the event? Who’s attended in the past? Are there endorsements? What classes are being offered? If the event is new, who is directing the conference? What is the caliber of the instructors? How is the event promoted? How will it benefit you?

Where can I Learn About Conferences?

·        Ask other writers for recommendations.
·        Search online.
·        Ask an agent or editor for recommendations.

Edie Melson and I direct The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference held at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, May 24-28, 2020 with a post conference on May 29. We deliver on our mission of Changing the world … one writer at a time. We believe in providing writers the various types of conferences and retreats to fill specific needs.

Jane Friedman has written an excellent article: Jane’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of a Writers Conference. She will be conducting our 2020 post-conference, The Art & Business of an Author Platform on May 29, 2020 at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

What tip can you offer to help writers choose a writing conference?


How to Choose a Writing Conference (Part 2) DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers
Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

Connect with DiAnn here:


  1. DiAnn, thank you for this article. Writers conferences are where editors can meet writers face to face. Editors are like every other consumer--we buy from people that we know, like and trust. A lot of that interaction happens at a writer's conference--and plays a huge important role in the process.

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    1. Thanks, Terry. The face to face meetings often root writers with agents, editors, and other writers.

  2. Thank you! Writing conferences have "personalities" and we need to select the one(s) that fit our genre and what we hope to accomplish.

  3. Thank you so much for this information DiAnn. It is so important for writers of all levels to attend conferences not just for the networking which is most important for a writer but also for the things you learn about writing at the conferences. It is like any profession, you need continuing eduation every year.

  4. Great article. Writers have many options today they didn't have years ago. I like the intimacy of smaller conference. But I also like the larger conferences where you have opportunity to meet more people.