The Author Community: Contests, Conferences & Collaboration

July 25, 2013

I'm excited.

After two years of trudging through the trenches of being an unpublished author alone, I'm realizing... I am not alone. In fact, there's a big ol' world out there of unpublished writers who, like me, are chasing their dream of becoming a self-supported, published author. A real author. 

This summer I've made an effort to connect to other authors online and I can't tell you how many wonderfully supportive people I've met through blogs and twitter. 

Yay for writer friends! 

(ummm... just for the record, I don't know anyone in this picture. I was trying to find a "friend" picture that also had books, and I found this totally realistic picture of some teen models hanging out in a library. Because, friends hang out in the library all the time. Anyway, let's move on...) 

I feel like I've stepped out from my dark, musty cave (AKA my house, where I lock myself away like a hermit to write) into a world of sunshine and rainbows with the kind of happy music you hear at Disneyland.

And I realized I'm ready for the next step. From what I can tell "the next step" consists of:
  •  joining critique groups
  • going to writer's conferences, and 
  • getting your work out there with different online contests. 
That's what all the cool kids (see picture above) are doing, anyway. :)

So, for the first time, this summer I've submitted my work to a few different blog contests where I could end up having a literary agent reading my ms if they like what they see (check out the contests here and here). It's a ridiculously small step, but it feels so refreshing to interact with other writers and be able to look at their work and collaborate a bit. 

My next goal is attending a writer's conference. They all seem to be a bit pricey, so I'm looking at a few different local ones (still pricey, but at least there's no air fare involved).

The Big Sur Writer's Conference is my first choice. It looks A.Ma.Zing. Now... anyone have an extra $775 they'd be willing to part with... 

How about you? Have you made an effort to connect with other authors or are you still flying solo? If so--how have you connected? Blogs? Critique Groups? What kind of contests have you entered (if any)? What Conferences have you been to (if any)?


  1. Hey! No one commented? 40 whacks with a wet noodle!

    I've found that good things started happening for me when I really put myself out there... joined a LIVE writing group (very scary for me) and several on-line groups. I also started taking my blogging seriously. I've met tons of people, and now have cyber-friends all over the world. So cool to be settling in for the night, and chatting with a friend on the other side of the world having her morning coffee.

    Anyway, Once I started acting like an author, everything else started falling in to place.

    By the way... I noticed you commented on most (if not all) the Mother Write Repeat entries... it brought me here. I love engaging with people who are as passionate about the art of writing as I am.

    Nice to meet you!

  2. Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! My blog is still really new, and I'm always excited to get new comments (no, really. I actually cheer. My husband thinks it's funny).

    I love what you said about acting like an author. That's what I've been finding this summer. For years, I've kind of gone at the writing thing alone, with the exception of a few beta-readers.

    But now, I've made a big effort get out there ("there" being online) and meet other writers, and it has been awe.some. It's seriously SO encouraging to know I'm not alone and no one understands the plight of an unpublished author like other aspiring writers.

    My next goal is to go to a conference (then I'll REALLY feel like a cool kid!).

    So I did a little searching on Mother.Writes and I'm guessing you're entry #12? :) If so, I LOVED your first 250 words! Talk about an awesome hook right away!

    By the way, what is a LIVE writing group? It sounds nerve-wracking (but probably exhilarating too).

  3. I'm good friends with an author, in fact I've illustrated two of her children's books that have been published, but being a nearly extreme introvert (even this post is hard for me and you'll be able to tell that I tend to ramble cause of nerves) it's not easy getting out there. Doesn't help living in Montana where the entire state population can fit into one east coast city with room to spare.

    So no conference (couldn't afford one anyway) and no real local writers groups. I do this alone as my friend is WAY busy with her promoting and the like. Being a father to a 14 and 9 year old boys, working full time, wife working full time, I have very little time. Friends and family are the only readers I can test on and at least they LOVE my book, but I feel they kinda have to, or at least pretend to.

    Anyway rambling a bit, I'm also doing this alone out here in no man's land and am finding little time to search online for anything.

  4. Jason,

    I think most writers could relate with you on the introvert thing. :) Are you on Twitter? I've found Twitter to be an easy way to connect with a LOT of writers, all from the safety and comfort from my own home. It's allowed me to connect with a small handful of authors which is helpful because writing can feel so lonely and it just really helps to know you're not alone!

    Also, sometimes people will post writing contests online. Different blogs have different contests that allow you to post your work and have people comment on it. Maybe this is something you'd like? Having our worked critiqued is definitely nerve-wracking, but it is really helpful! And because it's done on-line--as opposed to in person--it's a little less intimidating.

    Also, I don't know what your work schedule is like, but an online writer's conference on Aug 13 and 14th. It's completely FREE. You just sign up. Different authors and literary agents come and do video presentations and online chats. And if you do have to work that day, the whole thing is archived so you can just watch the videos/read the chats later. I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out:

  5. I am on Twitter and follow several agents, learning how to make a good query (and I've learned that there is no real way, everyone seems to want it a different way) and some writers, but I don't say much myself.

    I used to do co-op writing on several forums, but time with all of us was always a factor in their declines. I may have to search more for others when I get a chance. Write now a friend is grammar checking my first book, so I've been changing a few things and writing the second in the down time. Never seems to be enough time in a day.

    I'll have to check out the archive of that, as I do work those days. Thank you though, I hope it will help.
    It's nice talking with you, thank you.