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March 16, 2015
By Betty Kelly Sargent
There is little question that writers’ conferences can provide a big boost for an indie author's career.

We are happy to report that self-publishing is alive and well on the West coast. In fact, it’s thriving. More than 500 editors, agents, designers, bloggers, and self-publishing experts attended the 12th San Francisco Writers’ Conference last month, and the majority of writers we spoke with said they were now, more than ever, excited about the possibility of becoming an indie author.

“[SFWC] is an unparalleled opportunity for writers to meet bestselling authors, literary agents, and editors, as well as many of the movers and shakers in the indie publishing world,” says Joel Friedlander, the publishing guru who runs the blog The Book Designer. “The interest in self-publishing has grown every year I’ve attended and this year it seemed that more and more authors are giving serious thought to what happens after they publish.”

For indie authors, conferences like SFWC provide significant networking opportunities -- and this is why it makes so much sense for self-publishers to attend writing conferences whenever they can.

“If you’re an author seeking a marketing advantage for your books, then a writing conference is one of the best long-term investments you can make,” says Jane Friedman, publishing veteran and author of Publishing 101. “There’s no replacement for beginning to build a relationship in person; once you make that connection, your later follow-ups, via email or social media, are much more likely to be successful.”

"Meeting people face to face matters, period."
“Meeting people face to face matters, period,” she adds. “It doesn’t matter who you are approaching -- successful indie authors, people who work at the major e-book retailers or distributors, or anyone in the publishing community. “

There is little question that writing conferences and events enable indie authors to meet key players in the self-publishing industry, network, get the word out about their books, and attend informative panel discussions. However, not all writing conferences are created equal. Some focus on how to become a better writer while others -- such as SFWC -- concentrate on publishing and marketing skills. So be sure to do some homework before signing up for any conference or event.

There are several ways to find out about conferences near you. Of the many online resources with information about conferences, you may want to check out Poets & Writers database of conferences or this directory of conferences from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. After that, you might want to look at this rundown of some of the key conferences and book fairs in 2015 from Publishers Weekly or try out a new app from Poets & Writers, called Poets and Writers Local, that lists and maps local literary events and even provides a database of the literary history for 17 cities.

So, when you stop to think about it, is there any better way to spread the word about your book than hooking up with like-minded book lovers in your very own hometown or nearby community? We can’t think of one.


Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.