5 Reasons a Memoir Conference is Good for Your Writing Life by Linda Joy Myers

5 Reasons a Memoir Conference is Good for Your Writing Life by Linda Joy Myers

5 Reasons A Memoir Conference is Good for Your Writing Life‘Tis the season for writing conferences! As you know, we writers tend to be solitary people—we have to be willing to slave at our desks alone for months and years while we write our book. Some writers are so dedicated to their writing they’re cautious about taking the time away and spending money, but sometimes we get a much needed dose of inspiration and input from taking the time to invest in ourselves as writers. However, there are doubts and questions about such a venture.

  • I already know how to write, so what will I get from a conference that I don’t already know?
  • A conference costs money—what value will it offer me?
  • Maybe going to a conference is just a distraction from my writing.
  • How will it help to get my book finished and published?

These are valid points, but as a veteran of dozens of different conferences, both as a participant and a presenter, I’d like to offer you some great reasons to consider a writing conference.

  1. You network with everyone, have fun, and build your platform

Yes, there is that term “platform” again! What it means is you’ll get to know people who will become your audience when your book is published. Networking is one of the best reasons to attend a conference. Just think—a whole room of people who are normally solitary get together to talk nonstop about writing, the current state of publishing, agents, social media preferences, where and how to use commas, and other geeky interests writers have.

  1. At a conference, you connect in person and build your community for outreach, endorsements, interviews, speaking engagements, and publicity in the future.

Virtual events are great and they help us broaden our outreach, but there’s nothing like shaking someone’s hand and looking into their eyes, cozying over to a corner to talk more about—your book, their book, their mentor, agent, or web designer radio shows and podcasts, and sharing yours. The best way to learn the path to successful published book is through networking with others and building trustworthy resources you can draw on when the time comes.

  1. Even if you’ve heard about writing craft, platform, or query letters before, there’s always the chance you will learn something new!

Every time I go to a conference, I hear experts talk about craft—writing scenes, character development, dialogue, language and description techniques, manuscript presentation—and each time I go, I hear something new and learn a new skill—and I have been going to conferences for 30 years. Though I’m already engaged with social media, I learn new stuff about Facebook, Twitter, and other ways to reach out, which are changing every day.  I find out more about the inner workings of these systems and how to use them more effectively. Publishing is changing rapidly as well, and there are always challenges, new practices, and technologies to learn more about.

  1. It feels good to connect with others who face the same kinds of emotional challenges you do—the niggling inner critic, worrying about family critiques, and writing the truth.

Every memoir writer struggles with the process of getting their truth on the page and standing by it. It’s daunting to dig deep inside our memory banks and come up with memories that were buried, some for good reason. But it’s been shown that writing helps to heal the past, and that getting your story out of your body allows you to move into a better present and future. When you write your story, you become a compassionate witness to the younger you who lived through the events in your story, and lived to tell about it!

  1. You will leave with new skills, connections, and excited energy about writing and publishing your memoir.

A conference chock full of information about craft, process, networking, social media, and publishing and the process of learning and connecting fills the room with a great energy of excitement and plans for the future. You leave with not only more skills, but with the feeling of being buoyed up and supported. You’ll have dozens of new friends, writing buddies, and social media connections to help you get your memoir finished and out into the world. It’s a great investment in yourself as an author. Wear that title now!

If you hurry, you can get the Early Bird Discount for the Magic of Memoir Conference in Oakland. CA Oct. 15-16. 

Publishing Wild West Show–Finding your Way as a Memoirist

As writers, we find ourselves involved in the publishing world–either happily or with frustration and stress. Today at the Free Roundtable discussion at NAMW, I’m going to speak with Madeline Sharples, author of Leave the Hall Light On, a powerful book about her the son who committed suicide, leaving the family in ashambles, how she recovered her sense of self and family in the aftermath of the tragedy. Though it is tragic, Sharples’ skillful handling of scenes, unfolding awarenesses, and the recovery process makes it a book we all can learn from. Her book did well, but suddenly a few months ago, her publisher went out of business. The discussion we’re having over at the National Association of Memoir Writers will address how she found a publisher for her book, which was not a new book, and what he looks for in memoirs.

We’ll be talking with Mike O’Mary, publisher and owner of Dream of Things. We will look at that state of the publishing industry today, and what authors need to know about publishing before they look for a publisher.

Next week self-publishing is the focus at the member teleseminar on Friday, September 21 with Linda Austin and Sonia Marsh. We will be addressing the practicalities of publishing through the different platform, why one might be better than another, depending on your needs, and how to find out what you need to know to make the best choices.

There is so much to know. As both a self-published and traditionally published author, I have to say both are appealing in different ways, and that I still have a lot to learn, as the industry is changing probably every day. Stay tuned to more about publishing in this wild west ride the industry is going through. And in the meantime, write the best book you can write.


What do you think about self-publishing–is it something you would consider?

Or do you think it’s best to find an agent and a traditional publisher–and why??