PubCrawl Podcast: Conferences and Festivals

The Thanksgiving holidays are over so we are back to a regular posting schedule! This week Kelly and JJ are discussing Conferences and Festivals: what they are, which ones are worth attending depending where you are in your career, etc.

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Show Notes

  • The different types of festivals and conferences
  • Before you are published, it would be more useful for you career and networking-wise to attend craft-based conferences, or reader-oriented ones as a fan
    • Most professional writing organizations have local chapters, and it is useful to join your local chapter and attend their local conference (the quality will vary depending on the chapter, of course)
    • Many of these conferences will have opportunities to pitch to agents, as well as attend for workshops to improve your skills
  • It is advisable that aspiring authors skip the industry-based ones; they’re for booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other publishing people, not bloggers or writers
    • When writers are sent to industry conferences, it is usually the publishing house who sends them with the intent to introduce them to the bookselling and librarian and school market communities, not the consumer
  • Reader-oriented festivals are useful after you have been published to meet your fans
    • Consumer-facing festivals are tricky to attend as an author when your book is not yet available; not to put too fine a point on it, if you don’t have a product to sell, it may not be worth the money
    • Timing is key for these
  • Who gets sent to reader festivals and who pays:
    • Both authors and publishers pitch themselves to different festivals. Depending on who books the event, the financial onus is on the one who initiates. If you are the author who has booked their own appearance, it doesn’t hurt to ask your publisher for financial assistance. The worst they can say is no, but they may be able to contribute a small traveling stipend, etc.
    • Prior to book publication, it is useful to schedule a call with your publishing team and come up with a list of festivals and conferences you would like them to pitch you to
    • If festivals are local (within a reasonable driving distance), it is probably worth your money to attend (you may be able to arrange other compensation, such as having your entrance fee waived or arranging book sales beforehand)
    • Your publicist should be able to assist in arranging these matters, even if the publisher isn’t paying for you to attend
  • Best practices for behavior as an aspiring writer:
    • DO have business cards (or something similar) with contact information like email, website, social media
    • DO respect people’s boundaries: pitch during professional sessions, not in a bathroom stall
  • Best practices for authors on panel:
    • DO be mindful of how much people are talking; if you’re the only one talking, then maybe sit back and let other people have the spotlight
    • DO try to maintain good group chemistry

What We’re Working On

  • Kelly crash-read two manuscripts and is hopefully making offers on both
  • JJ is working on her next book, but is searching for a first line

What We’re Reading

Off-Menu Recommendations

What You’re Saying

★★★★★
Good Show, 10/10 would listen…
—TheRealKatherine

Conversations about books and publishing that not everyone has access to, but now we do thanks to this podcast. The audio quality is really good. You will probably hear how they feel about the ending of the Harry Potter series.

Touché, TheRealKatherine. Touché. 😂

★★★★★
Essential for all writers…but especially…
—Potatoyakker

I LOVE THIS PODCAST. I feel like I hit the lottery finding this. One of my biggest qualms about writing advice is that a lot of it often comes from people that are impossible for me to identify with. I’m twenty-two, but I’ve been writing with the intent to be published since I was about sixteen, and I’m currently on my fifth manuscript. The typical “just write that first book!” advice lobbed at young people doesn’t work for me, because I wrote that first book, and the second, and so on. I need more than that. Yet for some reason there seems to be a dismissal towards young writers by practiced veterans. It seems like “serious” advice is often leveled towards older writers and COMES from older writers and industry professionals—most of them white and male. I can’t tell you how incredibly important it’s been for me to listen to two fabulous, younger, unapologetically feminist women discuss the industry and pick apart what works in books and media without framing it in a context that won’t work for a young artist. I really appreciate that they don’t use age as a qualifier in their advice. The only other podcast I’ve found to embody this is Sarah Enni from First Draft, but since her podcast is structured around interviews it doesn’t always have as much advice and analysis as I prefer…which is why Kelly and JJ are utter lifesavers.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but their respect for all writers regardless of age, gender, or race was something I picked up on immediately. I also really, really appreciate that Kelly and JJ speak openly and honestly about issues like sexism and racism in the industry. They manage to be unflinchingly honest but still incredibly kind. This kind of commentary makes them easy to listen to, and even easier to trust. I feel like I leave every podcast episode having learned something new.

It may sound corny, but it feels like Kelly and JJ are the super cool older sisters I never had who are willing to get real when it matters, but they’re never dismissive. I am so thankful they made this and are still making it. I’m not sure if you guys read reviews, but if you see this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me two more people to look up to.

Um, yes, we do read reviews, Potatoyakker, and thank you for being honest and for giving us your trust. ❤️

That’s all for this week! Next week we will be discussing So You’ve Published a Book, Now What?  So as always if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, send us an ask on Tumblr, or tweet using the hashtag #askpubcrawl!

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