The Columbus Writer's Conference http://www.creativevista.com comes around near the end of the month. I'm always pretty active in the conference and enjoy other conferences as well, both as a participant and sometimes as a speaker. If you have designs on a writing career, an excellent conference, such as this one, is a good place to start. You'll meet other writers, hear workshops on craft and business, and have the opportunity to meet agents and editors. My agent and I met at a conference nearly 15 years ago, but didn't begin our author-agent relationship until 2003. Some things take time to develop.
While you may not place your book at a conference (although some people have), you make valuable contacts and begin to build a network not only of people who can help you, but also of people who have interests similar to yours. Writing can be a solitary life, and it helps to get out and rub elbows with those who are like you. These are the people who understand writer's block and rejection, and they can sympathize like no one else. And when you sell something, these are the people who are happiest for you.
If you're a neophyte writer, don't be afraid of coming to a conference for fear that everyone there is some well-known published author. Some attendees have published a lot, some have self-published, some have never published at all. It doesn't matter. You can ask any question you want to without looking foolish. People aren't there to judge you or your work. This is especially true of the professionals. They've heard every pitch, seen every kind of author, and read every kind of book, but they are usually very courteous and interested in what you have to say. Of course, they are honest about whatever your project is, but that's their function. If they aren't terribly encouraging, don't take it personally or get defensive. Use what they say to improve your book.
In short, go. You'll learn something and you'll probably have a great time.
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