Why AWP Should be on Your Conference List
Hey Everyone! As you all may know if you saw our Facebook page last week, Jenna and I attended AWP in Tampa. What an event it was. We went representing Running Wild Press but don't worry we also represented Writely Me!
AWP is short for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. They describe this conference as, "The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature. The conference features over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The bookfair hosted over 800 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world." Every year they hold this conference in different parts of the United States. Locations have already been picked for 2019 (Portland, Oregon), 2020 (San Antonio, Texas), 2021 (Kansas City, Missouri), and 2022 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).
The whole event was great and quite energizing. Our biggest take away from the whole event was NETWORKING!
We had the chance to meet a lot of new and amazing people while attending this event. Many different representations were there from literary presses, literary magazines, MFA programs, to non-profits, authors, etc. The atmosphere was great and everyone was getting to know each other and what everyone represents.
Because we were there with the co-founder of Running Wild Press: Lisa Kastner, who is a total boss babe, we had the opportunity to meet some friends of hers from her MFA program, some of which have also created their own indie press, Woodhall Press. We also attended two different book readings and a panel on female editors in publishing. One thing we learned from the conference was that every night someone is hosting readings, poetry slams, or some literary-centered event in which you can attend to show your support, learn, and network.
So how would attending AWP benefit you, as a writer?
Last year we did a post on 40 Writing Conferences you Should Attend this Year, in it we covered some of the most popular conferences in the United States. We dabbled a little bit into why going to conferences as a writer is beneficial, but if that wasn't enough to convince you we have more tips to share with you guys.
It helps your networking.
There is nothing more genuine than having a face-to-face conversation with someone. Sure emails and social media works as a form of communication, but they are no where as near effective as in person. Conferences are a time of building your connections. They bring together many different kinds of people with many different backgrounds. There are other writers, authors, editors, publishers, and literary agents. Conferences will always be a great start to getting your foot in the door. Some ways to prepare is by knowing your three second pitch, having business cards, and bringing a smile. We went to AWP with bookmarks we created that had our website on the back. A lot of people really liked them!
It educates you on the craft.
As a writer there is never a limit to how much you can learn. There is always something new to be taught or discovered. That is one of the best thing about conferences. They hold a ton of different workshops and panels on topics about writing, publishing, and more. They are also largely taught by editors, literary agents, and authors. One time we attended a class on the different sub-genres in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Did you know there is over 40?! A lot of these classes don't cost you anything extra either. When looking at your conference program you are able to pick and choose the ones you'd like to go to. AWP had a number of different panels, workshops, and classes. There were at least 3-4 different options during the same time, so it is important to come up with a plan ahead of time.
It increases your chances of getting published.
At AWP alone there were so many tables from small publishing house to literary magazines all open to talking about what they are looking for and their submission process. By meeting some face-to-face and discussing our work as writers we put ourselves that much closer to getting published. We traded business cards and pitched our stories and now we have a point of contact when we go to submit. It really is that simple. No, it doesn't guarantee your work will defnitely be published, but it already gets you further than just submitting through email would have. It also opens your eyes to the different outlet of publishing there are our there.