Written by Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes

My first writer’s conference was the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. This experience was life-altering. I knew no one there and even less about the publishing industry. I was excited and scared but hungry to learn. I left even more excited, scared, and hungry to learn. Several years later, as a professional editor, book-coach freelancer, and traditionally published author, I still experience those same emotions, but they propel my determination to develop my faith and craft. 

A writer’s conference is an annual event that brings together literary professionals from all over the world. However, at a Christian writer’s conference, there are usually planned times for fellowship, prayer, and worship that adds an incredible dynamic secular conferences are unable to replicate. Whether choosing a secular or Christian conference, you’ll have opportunities to meet published and unpublished authors, editors, and literary agents. You can meet publishers and attend workshops, lectures, and manuscript critiques. You may also network during meals and downtime. 

If you want to advance your editing career, conferences might be exactly what you need. Whether you’re starting out or have been in the industry a while, attending a conference has many benefits.  

Here are nine reasons you should consider attending conferences: 

1. SHOW YOUR COMMITMENT TO YOUR CRAFT 

 Attending a conference can be an effective way to demonstrate your dedication and seriousness about your editing career. By investing your time and money in attending such events, you can acquire new skills and knowledge and network with other professionals in your field. Attending conferences is a tangible way to stay updated on the latest trends and practices. It also shows you are willing to take steps to improve your skills and stay relevant in an ever-changing industry. 

2. MEET POTENTIAL CLIENTS 

Conferences provide ample opportunities to promote your skill set and offer a perfect platform to meet potential clients in person, which can be more effective than online interactions.  

3. MEET WRITERS YOU’VE WORKED WITH   

Attending conferences is a great way to enhance your relationship with authors you’ve worked with by meeting them face-to-face. There’s nothing quite like having an inperson conversation. Writers tend to be more loyal to editors they’ve met face to face. When you sit across from someone and engage in a conversation, you build a personal connection that is hard to achieve through digital communication. Attending conferences allows you to interact with clients personally, showcase your expertise, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. 

Conferences can also help to solidify client loyalty. Meeting clients face to face can help you better understand their needs and preferences, which can help you provide better service and tailor your approach to their specific needs. 

4. CONNECT WITH THE MARKET  

Building and maintaining solid relationships with publishing industry professionals is essential in today’s complex and competitive market. When you develop rapport with a diverse group of industry professionals, you gain a broader perspective of the industry’s needs and can identify potential gaps you may be able to fill as an editor. Moreover, a strong network of professional connections increases the likelihood of receiving referrals, which can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, or job offers.

5. NETWORK WITH EDITORS 

The publishing industry tends to prioritize writers, but attending writing conferences can increase your chances of meeting and connecting with editors in the field. This is an excellent opportunity to establish relationships and build a strong community. 

6. DEVELOP YOUR CRAFT  

Conference attendees are presented with opportunities to enhance their writing skills, typically offering workshops, practicums, and classes focused on different writing levels and genres. Understanding the specific genre you work on is essential. Therefore, attending workshops concentrating on a particular genre, such as a devotional or a thriller, is beneficial. 

You’ll develop a hands-on, practical experience in your work by learning more about the writing process, the structure of a story, character development, and other elements of the craft. Furthermore, having a sound working knowledge of a particular genre can help you guide writers through the complexities of the publishing industry.  

7. PARTICIPATE IN CONTESTS 

Editing contests are an excellent way to showcase your skills and expertise. These competitions are typically centered on award-winning projects, allowing editors to demonstrate their ability to transform writing into a polished final product. By participating in these contests, you can gain recognition in the industry and open doors to new opportunities and collaborations. 

8. IDENTIFY LATEST TRENDS 

One of the primary goals of conferences is to provide the most up-to-date industry information. This includes information about emerging trends, popular genres, and changing reader preferences. Use this information to prepare for the type of work they expect and stay informed about what is selling and what is not. 

9. RECHARGE  

Editors typically work in isolation. Conferences provide opportunities to connect, build relationships, and learn from experts who share valuable insights and strategies. Often, there’s a spiritual aspect, such as corporate worship, biblical teaching, and motivational talks. Attending these events can revitalize your faith and business. Writing and editing conferences are a great ways to recharge your batteries and return to your work with renewed energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration. 

BOTTOM LINE 

If money is an issue, consider applying for a full or partial scholarship. Most conferences offer help to attendees whose only barrier to attendance is financial. Whether you earn a scholarship or have the funds, go! It’s a tax-deductible investment that can help you become more effective and provide better support to the writers you work with. You’ll also benefit from networking with other industry professionals, such as agents, publishers, and fellow editors. You can exchange ideas, share best practices, and learn from your colleague’s experiences. This can help you improve your skills, expand your knowledge, and build relationships that benefit your editing career. 


Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, EdD, is a writer/content editor. She works for Iron Stream Media as a book coach/editor. She’s a sensitivity reader for Sensitivity Between the Lines and an editor/contributor for Inkspirations. She is the board’s vice chair for the 540 Writers community. Her writing has been published in Guideposts.