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Getting the Most from a Writers' Conference

Since I’m president of the Maryland Writers’ Conference, I am privy to all the factors that go into producing this annual event in Maryland. We want participants to get the most out of it and schedule the panels, workshops, keynote speakers, meals and receptions to help make that happen. But the planners are only half the equation. The other half is you, the participant. How can you get the most from this event? The best advice is to come early, stay late. Come early to get registered, scope out the layout, meet new people, grab a cup of coffee, and nail down a good seat for the opening session. Keynote speakers are chosen to provide broader insights or strategies into writing. There might be an especially meaningful nugget for you. Agents are the major gatekeepers to a successful writing career. Writing conferences usually schedule a number of agents to hear author pitches. Take advantage of the 10-minute time allotment to make your pitch. Agents will also probably take part in panels discussing what they’re looking for and how they’ll decide if your novel is one they’d pick. Listen up! Workshops offer the insights, experience, and tips on various aspects of writing by writers who’ve walked the talk and are sharing it with you. The breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, and receptions offer you an opportunity to share true life experiences, successes, failures, and the pitfalls. Then for the real skinny, hang around after the events of the day and join a group in the bar. Unwind and enjoy chatting with your fellow writers.

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