Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 19, 2010

WriteOnCon 2010

When you’re a writer traveling back and forth between two states every two weeks and constantly having an infant in tow, getting to a writer’s conference is next to impossible. Thanks to WriteOnCon, I got my chance to attend a conference this year.

WriteOnCon was a free online conference focusing on “kidlit” – picture books, middle grade and YA. It took place August 10-12, running from 6 am until after 10 pm. Jam-packed days with classes and chats with agents, publishers, and authors. I did not get to participate in the live chats, as they conflicted with my daughter’s schedule, but since this was an online conference, it didn’t matter. All the chats, as well as all the classes, are posted on the website, like a blog, so we attendees could access them at our convenience. This is quite the boon for time-pressed individuals like me!

Perhaps the best part was the critique forums. You could post query letters, first 250 words, first five pages of completed manuscripts and/or first five pages of current WIP. You could post as many things as you wanted reviewed, with the stipulation that for every post you made, you critiqued five others. We were also instructed to look for posts that had the lowest number of critiques, so that everyone who posted would get a decent number of responses.

I liked this feature because at in-person conferences, you are often limited to how many things you can get critiqued. Also, it was great to get feedback from other “kidlit” writers. Some lucky people also got feedback from the industry professionals, who were browsing the forums as well. I was not lucky enough to get an industry pro to weigh in on my posts, but I did get a lot of insightful feedback that will help me refine my projects. This feedback alone was worth the time I spent critiquing other people.

I think that for people who cannot afford either the time or the money to get to an in-person conference, an online conference like WriteOnCon is a good substitute. However, I think in order to get the best networking experience, a face-to-face conference is essential. And an online conference simply cannot generate the kind of visceral buzz you get from being in the same physical space as other writers sharing their passion and creativity. But I found it a worthwhile endeavor and many of the other attendees felt the same.

One of my goals for next year is to attend at least one “real” conference, since I will not be traveling between states and my infant will be a toddler.

What are your thoughts on writers’ conferences, virtual or otherwise?

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Responses

  1. WriteOnCon sounds like a perfect solution for writers whose situations don’t allow them to attend live events.

    I’m a HUGE proponent of any gathering of writers, as you know, in fact, I credit the Philadelphia Writers Conference as one of the major kick-starts to my own professional writing career.

    Luckily for you, there is a great selection of excellent local choices for writers who want to rub elbows at live conferences.

    In addition to the PWC, there’s the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group’s “Write Stuff” conference, Philadelphia Stories’ “Push to Publish”, Montgomery County Community College’s Annual Writers Conference, and Pennwriters annual gig where [I think] our amigo Maberry will be the keynote speaker next year.

    If you can make the trip to NYC, the Backspace Writers Conference is another excellent, affordable con.

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  2. Don – Yes, I am very lucky to live in the area I do. I will be spoiled for choice when trying to decide what to attend in the coming year! I know that whatever conference I attend I will have a wonderful experience and learn a great deal.

    I look forward to “going live” next year!
    See you there!

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  3. This sounds fabulous. I wish I had known about it.

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  4. Carol – This was their first year. It seemed pretty successful, so I think they will try it again next year. I found out about it through QueryTracker.

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