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Writers’ conferences are great venues for those who want to hone their skills and meet other industry insiders. But they can also be great resources for magazine publishers. Here are some tips for getting the most out of attending writer-focused events.

Writers’ conference basics and benefits

As you would expect, writers’ conferences are gathering places for writers — both published and wannabes — who want to learn about the craft, keep up with the latest trends, and network with agents, publishers, and fellow writers. The latter is also the most obvious reason for publishers to attend such conferences: to meet writers who may be interested in working for their magazines. But, as a publisher, these conferences can offer much more than the opportunity to meet with potential writers.

  • In addition to recruiting potential writers and brainstorming possible topics for your magazine at writers’ conferences, you can also learn about publishing from their perspectives. Pick their brains about their experiences, pet peeves, and ideas on how to improve publishing processes.
  • Educational opportunities are invaluable. At most writers’ conferences, sessions are available for attendees to learn about writing techniques, hot topics, and industry trends. Writers are there to learn about publishing, which means you can learn what other publishers are doing and what they’re asking of writers. Conferences frequently offer roundtable discussions with publishers, writers, and other industry leaders, which can be gold mines of valuable information. You can even promote your brand or publication by presenting, speaking, or participating in a session or panel.
  • Writing conferences often provide exposure for peripheral industries such as printing, digital technologies, shipping, and many more, offering great opportunities for talking to and networking with these service providers.

Make the most of your conference investments

To ensure you get the most benefit possible from writers’ conferences, you need to define your primary goal. Is it to meet and recruit writers? Network with editors and other publishers? Learn what’s new in writing and publishing? Once you know why you want to attend, choose the best conference for meeting your objectives. If education is your main goal, choose a conference by looking at the sessions and speakers. If you are looking to find new writers, attend a conference where they are likely to be in a relevant niche. If your goal is to promote your publication — and you are willing to spend a bit more — book booth space to introduce people to your publication and attract interested writers. You might also want to share your expertise by presenting at a relevant writers’ conference.

If you’re like most publishers, you have a limited budget for events in general. But don’t cut them out completely! Conferences can provide tremendous learning, networking, and marketing opportunities. Choose conferences most closely tied to your goals. Large publishing events provide myriad benefits, but so do smaller regional and niche-media conferences. You might consider industry conferences targeting your publication’s focus. These are excellent for introducing your magazine to a targeted audience, recruiting potential writers, and talking to relevant advertisers. But don’t discount writers’ conferences. They may be focused on the craft of writing but, as a publisher, so are you.