Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The writers' conference

by Jane

Over the years, I have attended many writers' conferences, and no matter where or when they are, I have found them valuable--some more than others. I’ve always encouraged our agents to take advantage of the many invitations we receive to participate at these events and attend at least a couple of them every year.

So, it was with great pleasure that I agreed to attend The Geneva Writers’ Conference the weekend of February 4th through 7th. As the name implies, this conference is held in Geneva, Switzerland, every two years. Run by Susan M. Tiberghien and her incredible staff, all members of The Geneva Writers’Group, this conference attracts an incredibly eclectic and interesting group of participants from all over the world.

This year’s attendees included people from a number of countries in Asia and Africa; people from South America, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, England and the Scandinavian countries. Many were American ex-pats, people who were working for the United Nations and other international government organizations. For a large contingent, English was a second language.

The instructors, of which I was one, taught, gave lectures and held question and answer sessions. Many of us had read various writing samples prior to journeying to the conference and gave our feedback to those who had written them during several critique sessions.

In the end--and I find this is always true at these events--I believe we all learned things from each other.

The best writers' conferences are those at which writers come together to learn about their craft. Usually attended by published authors, sometimes bestselling published authors, editors, publishers and agents, these meetings can prove very valuable to prospective authors. Topics include developing book ideas, how to sell your work, how to write proposals, fiction writing skills, dealing with agents and publishers, and much more. For the most part these conferences can be very, very valuable.

I have found some of my most successful authors directly or indirectly at writers’ conferences and I know a number of our other staff members have as well. It is fertile ground for discovery.

Considering all of the incredibly interesting writers I met last weekend, it is my hope and expectation that I will again find that single idea and/or manuscript that I will be able to help turn into a book. Equally as important is that I have discovered new colleagues and friends.

If you are thinking about attending one of these conferences, I suggest you check with others who have previously gone. I encourage you to find one that is within your means and that covers topics you are interested in. As I mentioned, these conferences can provide a wealth of knowledge and contacts.

If you have already been a participant, I hope your experience has been as satisfying and valuable as mine have been. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity of taking part in a good conference for the world.


  1. Dear Jane,
    Would you trade Geneva for Arkansas? I'm thinkin' just around Sow Bug festival time, when all the fly tiers are in town showing off their trout flies... (bring your own electricity)!

    Be real easy, like, squirrels up a tree!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  2. Sow Bug festival is a real event... google it!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  3. I hope to attend my very first conference this year. There doesn't seem to be many around here in England, but so far I have managed to find one that has been going for 30 years, so should be good.

  4. I thought the Geneva writer's conference was terrific, so glad I was able to attend this year!

    For writers near or in Paris, these conferences are coming up: the Shakespeare & Co Festival - June 18th - 20th, 2010 (htpp://shakespeareandcompany.com) and the Paris Writers' Workshop - June 27th to July 2nd, 2010 (www.pariswritersworkshop.org).

  5. As one of the organizers of the Geneva Writers' Conference, I want to thank you Jane for all you offered us. Please bloggers, don't be blocked by the stereotype thinking of Switzerland. We're real writers, with more snow than Swiss francs in our pockets. But we are international and for all it's good points, internationalism is not always easy for writers to know who are their readers. We float out there in a more virtual world than other writers. So stay connected.

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