I have recently returned from GenreCon 2017, a three day conference the Queensland Writers Centre and the Australian Writers Marketplace put on, at the State Library of Queensland, to help genre writers and industry experts come together to learn and network.
I particularly enjoyed the workshops and panels at the conference. I was able to come and go as I pleased through the panel discussions between my pre-booked pitching session and workshops.
I had the opportunity to pitch my novel to renowned Australian literary agent, Alex Adsett. Whilst my pitch was turned down, because the novel was part of a self-published series, it had given me a deadline to finish writing the book. I’m sure I wouldn’t have written it this quickly otherwise. Alex was also very generous with her advice for indie authors. She gave me the name of a cheaper paperback distributer which has already saved me money in printing.
In the How to Write Fight Scenes for Women workshop I attended, Aiki Flinthart taught us the differences between how women and men fight and their emotional and physiological reactions to confrontations. She also gave plenty of tips on how to make my fight scenes realistic.
The other workshop I attended was Alex Adsett’s Top Ten Tricks and Traps of Publishing Contracts. She told us about some of the pitfalls in publishing contracts, including the sneaky ways some publishing houses try and secure the rights to an author’s work. The surprising lesson to me was how you could be caught out when entering writing competitions. If you don’t read the fine print you can lose all rights to your story, with nothing in return.
I met so many inspiring writers at the conference. The feature authors randomly wandered the halls ready to chat. Black & Write Fellowship-winning author, Claire Coleman, was super cool to talk to. I had seen articles about her and her book Terra Nullius before the conference but didn’t want to seem like a wanker by telling her that I wanted to read it. After hearing her amazing speech during one of her sessions, I found out Claire was more nervous to be at the conference than I was. That should have helped me build the courage to ask her and Emma Viskic to autograph their books for me. Alas, I chickened out!
As a crime writer I was surprised to learn that romance writers were some of the funniest and coolest people at the conference. I loved USA Today best-selling author Amy Andrews’ panel discussions. She was always blunt and hilarious. She’s even funnier in person. Jacquie Underdown was another hilarious Romance writer I met at the conference. I might just have to start reading their genre.
During the conference, I found new books and genres to interest me. For example, I’m not normally interested in anything post-apocalyptic but when I heard Daniel Findlay’s panel discussion about his experience while writing Year of the Orphan, I remembered I’d been interested in the nuclear waste dump in the middle of Australia. Daniel’s first-hand knowledge of that area is what has made be buy his book.
I found I could make the conference as interactive as I liked. As an introvert, I snuck into workshops and panel discussions with my head down and, when I was feeling brave enough, I was able to strike up conversations with randoms. Most people were there by themselves and were happy to have a chat and part with their knowledge of the industry.
So, are writers conferences worth it? They are expensive, but I’d definitely say they are worth it.
M. T. Ellis is a Brisbane-based crime thriller author. She got kicked out of high school in year 11 for non-attendance. She then went on to attempt a Business Management degree at University, but dropped out half-way through. Despite these failures, she managed to get a job and is currently driving boats for a living.
Her dogs, Opal, Zeus and Matilda, occupy a lot of her time. She would write books about their adventures if she thought people were even half as interested in them as she is.
M. T. Ellis is currently working on the second novel in her Detective Allira Rose Series.
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