Cyber Conferences – A Growing Alternative to Costly “in-Person” Conferences?
by Jodie Renner, editor & author
(TKZ's beloved "den mother," Kathryn Lilley, is feeling under the weather today, so I volunteered to fill in for her. Get well soon, Kathryn!)
Live, in-person conferences -- stimulating and great for networking
Do you attend many writers' conferences and/or book festivals? Since I started editing books 7 years ago, I've been to a lot of writers' conferences (including Thrillerfest & Craftfest 4 times) and a few great book festivals (notably the Tucson Festival of Books). I've also presented workshops and participated in panels at several in the last few years.
Overall, I've found writers' conferences to be a stimulating and enriching experience, not to mention great for networking and selling books. And best of all, I've made some lasting connections that have turned into great Facebook and blog friends. And finally met up with other blog and social media friends in person!
For a detailed, comprehensive list of “real” in-person writers’ conferences in North America in 2014, click HERE.
But traveling to conferences and book festivals can be costly and time-consuming.
The down side is it can get really expensive flying across the country and continent to attend live conferences and book festivals! (I'm in Canada and an excellent one I attended was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.) Also, for a rather hyper, type-A introvert like me, all that stimulation can be exhausting! By the second or third day I end up missing great stuff to grab a nap!
So if your finances are tight or you just don’t have time to interrupt your paying job or writing schedule, cyber conferences might be the way to go. Now we just need more of them!
Advantages to attending an online conference:
Virtual conferences are a great way to get a lot of useful info and even interact with presenters without getting out of your sweats – or pyjamas! And more importantly, without spending big bucks on plane fares, conference registration, hotel costs, restaurant meals, etc. Not to mention the packing and traveling time.
Presenting a webinar - a learning curve.
Recently, Caralee Hubbard, the president of the Calgary Assoc. of Freelance Editors (CAFE) contacted me about presenting a webinar at an upcoming Cyber Symposium for Editors & Writers. The topic was a breeze – we quickly agreed on “Spark up Your Stories – Add Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue.” I’ve written lots of blog posts and a whole book (Writing a Killer Thriller) on this subject and knew I had lots of value to offer fiction writers and editors, so that was the easy part.
But I’d never presented a webinar, and with my busy schedule, have only viewed a few so far. In addition, their preferred format was PowerPoint for the main screen, with me smaller in the corner, speaking live. That sounded fine, except that I’d also never presented a PowerPoint before, so I had two new skills to learn on time for the conference on April 11. But I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, and I figured it was time I learned to do webinars and audio/video presentations anyway, as I could apply that skill to present short clips on my websites, blog, or YouTube on various topics to do with on writing compelling fiction or indie publishing.
So between editing, packing to move across the country, and doing income taxes, I've been learning
how to present a webinar and also PowerPoint, starting with getting the right equipment.
I think I've got the hang of it all now!
A few great virtual writers’ conferences I /we missed:
Too bad I didn't know about Indie ReCon’s FREE virtual conference, 2013, for indie authors. Events and presentations included costs of self-publishing, building a publishing team, and using social media. In 2014, they decided to go back to a live conference, held in February. It will be interesting to see what happens for 2015!
The 2013 Muse Online Writers Conference, Oct. 7-13, 2013
This one looked great! Missed it? Mark your calendar in advance for the 2014 Muse Online Writers Conference on Oct. 20-26.
WANACon International, February 21-22, 2014 - Kristen Lamb’s excellent WANAtribe conference - a recent one I'm kicking myself for missing.
Here’s the info from before the conference:
"Welcome to WANACon Feb 2014. The conference you
“Why spend your hard-earned money on plane tickets, overpriced food and hotels when you can have the conference experience right from the comfort of your own home? YES. WANA has made it that easy with live presentations in our state-of-the art virtual classrooms. This is as close to the conference experience as possible, only every seat is the BEST seat.
“WANACon is a truly interactive entirely-online Writer’s Conference. No Yahoo loops or text based online conferences here. You’ll be able to chat with the presenters, see most presenters via their webcam, see a slideshow or the presenter’s screen, type text questions if the pets or children are making noise, and of course, pass notes behind the moderator’s back.”
And if, like me, you missed this conference, you can still purchase recordings of the various excellent presentations. Check it out HERE.
Two notable upcoming online conferences:
Nonfiction Writers Conference, May 7-9, 2014. This is their 4th annual cyber conference, so these people really know what they’re doing! Looks like they’ve established an excellent model for other writers’ conferences to emulate.
Their brief description: “Once again we will feature 15 speakers over three days, all conducted via teleseminar. No travel required–attend from the comfort of your couch via phone or Skype! Recordings and transcripts are available, depending on your registration option.”
And I love this feature: You can choose your registration option, depending on whether you want to save money and just listen and view live on their schedule, ($99), have both live access and downloadable recordings of all the sessions ($199), or opt for live access plus recordings and Word doc transcripts to review at your leisure ($299).
Cyber Symposium, a PD Event for Editors & Writers, April 11-12, 2014. This online event, organized by the Editors’ Association of Canada - Prairie Provinces Branch (EAC-PPB) and the Calgary Association of Freelance Editors (CAFE), is the virtual conference where I’ll be presenting my webinar called “Spark up Your Story: Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue.”
Check it out here and scroll down for info on the webinars and presenters. Eight webinars are scheduled, on a variety of topics of interest to both writers and editors. As Caralee Hubbell, President of CAFE, says, “See you in cyberspace!”
Readers – do you know of any other good upcoming virtual conferences of interest to writers and/or self-publishers? Or have you had any experiences attending or presenting at cyber conferences? Please share in the comments below!
And by the way, I just found out that my editor's writing guide, FIRE UP YOUR FICTION (formerly titled Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), in addition to having won a Silver Medal from FAPA and an Honorable Mention from Writer's Digest, is now a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards and also just received a great review from IndieReader.