Why Do You Go to Conferences?

A great question was sent the other day and thought it would help explain the other side of the table, so to speak.

Steve? Why do you go to conferences? You have big agency with a lot of clients already.

That is an excellent question and one that I get asked rather often, at conferences! (…Why are you here?)

1) Teaching
I enjoy teaching and the opportunity to train writers in how this industry works. Everybody has to start somewhere and the writers conference is a great place to learn.

2) Learning
I learned at conferences…while on faculty! When I started as an editor in 1992 I came from the retail side of the aisle. I knew nothing about writing or publishing or editors. But I knew books.

It was at conferences over they years where I learned the ropes. I took classes from other faculty. I sat with editors and listened to how they worked. I read the books everyone recommended. In short I learned.

3) Relationships
I’ve met thousands of writers over the years at conferences. Many are now successful authors and some of those are clients!

At conferences I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Working alongside other faculty members and writers has built a vast community of like-minded people with a like-minded vision.

4) A Successful Business
As mentioned, many of those relationships have developed into clients whose books are distributed far and wide.

Book ideas have come while sitting under a tree in a courtyard or walking along a lake. Books ideas have been sold to an editor too!

I see the writers conference as part of the fabric of what we do as an agency. We are out-and-about meeting people face-to-face.

I look forward to hearing new ideas from writers. You never know whose story or idea is going to click. And to hear the passion of writer behind the idea is invigorating.

Yes, we have a lot of clients already. But that does not prevent us from finding the next best writer. We are always on the lookout.

Your Turn

From your perspective, why would an agent go to a conference? Other than to meet you…

17 Responses to Why Do You Go to Conferences?

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton May 23, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    I go to conferences to meet people I’ve connected with online. I’ve been blessed to make many great friends since I began writing.

    I’ve also learned a lot at conferences. I’ve learned in classes, at meals, and during free time. Agents and publishers have taught me things I didn’t get from online communities.

    The first conference I got to hear you speak on a panel, and I thought you were so nice. When we left another lady thought you were scary, and I just laughed because I didn’t get that impression at all.

    • Avatar
      Jackie Layton May 23, 2016 at 5:41 am #

      Steve, I do have a question for you. I always heard to be ready with your elevator pitch in case you get that unplanned moment with an agent. I’ve never met an agent at a meal, but I’ve washed hands with one in the restroom, and I’ve waited on a bus with an agent early in the morning. It seemed inappropriate to pitch at these times. How do you feel about this?

      • Avatar
        Steve Laube May 23, 2016 at 6:22 am #

        Bathrooms are a no-no. Put youself in their shoes. Is that a place you’d like some one to corner you?

        But mutual waiting for a bus? Perfect. But avoid saying “Hi, would like to hear my book idea?” Better to have a nice conversation and IF the editor or agent asks ” What are working on?” Then ask “would you like to hear my sound bite? I’ve been practicing it!” Most likely they will smile and say “Sure!” After all it is one of the reasons they are attending.

    • Avatar
      Kim de Blecourt May 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      As a beginner, I knew I had (still have) a lot to learn. Where else can you meet agents and editors, face-to-face, and ask all your questions?
      I still attend now, to learn more and give back.

      By the way, I met my agent at a writer’s conference:-)

  2. Avatar
    Renee McBride May 23, 2016 at 5:50 am #

    This question is somewhat off topic, but related. I’m attending RWA National this year for the first time since 2007. I was looking forward to meeting one of you, but was disappointed to learn that none of your names were on the list for agent appointments.

    What conferences do you usually attend? Are there any regional Midwest conferences you typically go to?

    I’ve been following your blog for almost a year and was looking forward to meeting one of you this year.

  3. Avatar
    Lee Carver May 23, 2016 at 7:40 am #

    I go to the ACFW conference because I don’t know what I don’t know. Last year I learned so much relating to the Internet and marketing and digital maneuvers I’ve never tried. It’s frightening how much I need to learn to do. My favorite classes, though, are on the craft of writing. Writing is an endless word game with infinite possibilities of combinations.

  4. Avatar
    Laurie Lucking May 23, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    Thanks for this post, Steve! It’s nice to hear an agent’s perspective on conferences. I assumed agents attended conferences to stay integrated in the writing community, so everything you said about teaching, learning, and especially networking makes a lot of sense. I’m looking forward to meeting you at Realm Makers this summer!

  5. Avatar
    rochellino May 23, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    One of the main reasons I love to go to conferences is to meet creative, interesting, on the move people. Learn new things. Have fun.

    I am considering the ICRS 26-29 Jun 16. In reviewing the exhibitor list for 2016 I was surprised to not find either Gilead publishing or the Steve Laube agency listed as an exhibitor. Dan and Steve both indicate on the blog that they will be attending this year, have plans changed? Are you guy(s) going to simply attend or will you have some official capacity?

    I fully understand that ICRS is NOT a writers conference but is focused on (distribution) retail and retailers.


  6. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka May 23, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    I enjoy attending conferences. Over the years, I’ve had a chance to meet many online friends, and to meet with professionals. I enjoy the teaching, and just as much, the networking.

    I imagine agents go to conferences to meet with their clients face-to-face, to meet new people (loved meeting you last year), and to hear new ideas, in the hopes you’ll hear some that may eventually sell. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee May 23, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Steve:
    You mentioned many of the reasons I would go to a conference if I were an agent: learning, meeting others, renewing friendships. You never know when inspiration will strike, either. Who knows if you will get an idea for your next book from those you meet at a conference. I hope to meet you in Nashville in August!

  8. Avatar
    Natalie Monk May 23, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    I asked an agent that question last year at the ACFW conference. I can’t remember if it was Tamela or another agent. But she said conferences were really the only time she had face-time with her clients. I’d never thought about that before, and could more deeply appreciate the times an agent took time to speak to me at a conference.

  9. Avatar
    Georgiana Daniels May 25, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    I can only imagine how exhausted you all must be, with everyone trying to grab your attention for that many days!

  10. Avatar
    Georgianne Moisan May 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    I’ve only been to one conference several years ago in Indianapolis and I’m going to the one in Nashville in August. I appreciate the agents that take time out of their busy schedules to come to these conferences. They don’t have to. Like you said, Steve, you have plenty of business. But I believe most agents come because they have a servant’s heart. They want to provide a place where an unknown writer can have an opportunity they normally would not have. How else would I ever have the chance to talk to you face to face and pitch my novel? Thank you!


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