Small Conferences vs. Large Conferences

I am truly bummed that I was unable to make the last RT Conference. It was held in New Orleans for God’s sake. A city that I love to visit. There’s really nothing like New Orleans. The rich history, the atmosphere, and of course the food. This is a foodies’ paradise.

I was hoping that my hip would be healed enough for me to make this conference, but no such luck. I mean, what’s the sense of going to The Big Easy when you can barely walk … or at least unable to travel long distances. Sure, I could have gotten a scooter, buB.fq.carriaget then, between the eating and the copious amounts of alcohol sure to be consumed by yours truly, I would be sure to lose control of the scooter and take out a gaggle of tourists. :shock: Also, with the numerous cobblestone streets and sidewalks, no doubt I’d rattle a few teeth loose.

I was planning on making the RWA National Conference which is being held in San Antonio this year, but since its only weeks away, I’m not holding my breath. This will be the second year that I’ll be missing the major cons and I really do miss them. I really hope to make the big cons next year … we’ll see where the health takes me. Fingers crossed.

writeTouchContestLogoI’m sure I’ve said this once or twice in the past … in fact I’m sure I have said it … but there are times when the smaller conferences are more beneficial. I had attended the WisRWA conference here in Wisconsin last weekend. It was held in Brookfield, which is something like a thirty minute drive for me. (You’d think I would have headed home on Friday and Saturday evening … but not a chance. Conferences are my “me” time to get away :wink: And believe me, I take full advantage of it).

The hotel was very nice and all of the rooms set aside for workshops and such was within easy walking (or hobbling) distance. Sure there were times when I got winded and had to take mid-journey breaks. Plus, by the time I finally headed home on Sunday, I was one sore puppy.

Smaller conferences are also a terrific place to catch up with people you only see a few times a year. The larger conferences such as the RT Conference and RWA’s National Conference can be overwhelming … particularly if this is your first major con. Yet, they also give you an opportunity to meet some of your favorite authors who would have been unable to attend your local conference. There are a good number of authors that I only see at the major cons, but whom I consider a friend. Okay … a writer friend, which is totally different from your “lives right around the corner” friend. But still, I take every advantage to catch up with these writer friends and pick their brains which I have the opportunity. Then there are my on-line crit partners. Karin Tabke lives in California, Jan Kenney is in Kansas and Maya Banks lives in Texas. This is the only chance I get to hang with these wonderful and talented writers … whom I do consider them “friends” as opposed to “writer friends”. Always a big difference.

So … what is your take on smaller conferences as opposed to the larger cons? Both have advantages and disadvantages. Tell me … as both a writer and a reader … what you get out of them. Enquiring minds want to know.

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
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12 Responses to Small Conferences vs. Large Conferences

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Smaller conferences were a whole different thing. The main reason I went to the WisRWA conference was to catch up with you in person and to talk to Amy. I could have driven in each day, too, but I knew I would have missed too much. Like you, me, Amy and our new friend (who wandered down to the bar and sat with us, though her name escapes me now, lol) talking for hours on Friday night. And I have to say that the editors and agents mingled more with the writers than in any other conference I’ve been at. I went there just to chat with friends and have fun, and that’s exactly what I did. I hope next year, you can make it to the bigger ones.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Yeah, I always enjoyed hanging in bars with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, Edie. (And I think that girl’s name was Gail).

      You do get to the point where you’ve pretty much heard it all when it comes to workshops, but I gotta admit that the workshops they had at the WisRWA conference were interesting and informative.

  2. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi Liz,
    It was good seeing you at the WisRWA Conference! I agree, I like the cozier setting and the chance to mingle more and catch up with friends. The bigger cons are great too to see folks you’ve made an online connection with and attend a choice of sessions. I haven’t been to a national writers con yet but hope to go when my symphony schedule lets me :)

    Like Edie, I hope you’re able to make the national conferences next year!
    Mary Hughes`s last blog was …3T Writing Tidbit

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Yeah, I’m really hopin’ to make next year’s big conferences. Despite being somewhat overwhelming, they are good fun, and you pick up the most wonderful gossip. (Oops, did I say that? I meant scuttlebutt :wink:)

      And, yes, it was terrific seeing you as well. I think this is pretty much the only opportunity I get to run into you … figuratively speaking, of course.

  3. I like the large cons like RT and RWA and the small cons too. Like you said, they both have advantages and disadvantages. But I agree that you have more time to talk and visit with folks at the smaller cons and that they generally have a more relaxed feel than the bigger cons.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Poison Promise first chapter online …

  4. Amy Remus says:

    I have only been to one conference – Barbara Vey’s – and it was a big conference to me and a little overwhelming. My favorite parts were the times I could sit down at a table with some authors an chat. I am such an introvert, that the bigger the event, the more I retreat internally. I like the small group chats. I am going to Penned Con in St. Louis in September, and have no idea what to expect, but it appears it will be a different atmosphere than BV’s. We’ll see!
    Amy Remus`s last blog was …Review: TAMING THE COUNTRY STAR by Margo Bond Collins

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Go for it, Amy. For an introvert, the smaller cons are ideal. Hope you have a terrific time.

      Don’t think I ran into you at Barbara’s luncheon. Mores the pity.

  5. Hi Liz! I really enjoy smaller conferences, too. Last year was the first SoCal Writers Conference and it was great (and close by!) I think there were 200 attendees and it was relaxing and just really a nice way to connect with other writers without feeling overwhelmed. I’ve never been to RT, but I am headed to RWA in a few short weeks and am very excited. I really enjoy the RWA conferences even though I’m an introvert – there’s just a vibe that makes me want to better my craft. I’m also a total fangirl, so seeing my favorite authors is a thrill. :)
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …One month until Veiled Target + Giveaways!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      I’m with you when it comes to those fangirl moments, Robin. Plus I totally love it when I’m hanging with fellow writers who “get it”. They understand when you’re talkin’ deadlines, edits, revision, or synopsises. Makes it all the more fun.

  6. I love this topic, and wished I had found it sooner. I LOVE smaller cons. While the large ones have a lot to offer, the smaller ones are where I get the most recognition and form lasting friendships. Those two things lead to sales and word of mouth. I was beyond thrilled when someone approached me at ConCarolinas and said, “I remember you. You were here about two years ago talking about your books. I loved your panel to pieces!” That comment from a fan sent me over the moon. :) I hit the sci-fi/fantasy cons because I’m always looking for the broader audience. And believe it or not, it doesn’t matter what I write as long as it’s good and juicy. Smaller cons rock!!

  7. Liz Kreger says:

    Thanx for chiming in, Marcia. That is really thrilling when someone comes up to you with such a lovely compliment. At WisRWA’s conference, someone came up to me (her names escapes me) and said she was going to read my books and which one would I recommend starting with? Even though my books have been out for several years, I loved it.

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