Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing Conferences--Why Every Author Needs Them

I love being a mom. I love being an author. Sometimes the two worlds collide and sometimes they merge beautifully. This week presented me with a little of both kinds of experiences as I juggled each role and prepared for one of my favorite parts of being an author: going to a writer's conference. Writing conferences are to authors what Christmas is to children: wondrous, magical, exciting, and when done right … informative and mind blowing.  :)

My two favorite conferences are: Superstars Writing Seminars and LDStorymakers. Superstars is a nuts-and-bolts seminar to help the serious author learn how to make a living at writing while LDStorymakers concentrates more on perfecting the craft of writing. Both conferences offer opportunities to network with other authors … as well as with top-notch agents, editors, and publishers. Networking and exchanging helpful information is essential to navigate the ever-changing waters of traditional and indie publication.

Serious writers need to be around like-minded folks for encouragement, training, and networking: three vital parts in the recipe to successful writing careers.

Discovering LDStorymakers a few years ago helped change my dream of becoming an author into a reality. While attending LDStorymakers, I discovered an incredibly gifted, multi-award winning storyteller, David Farland. I loved what he had to say and his willingness to teach others what he has learned.  He has taught other New York Times bestselling authors such as Stephanie Meyers (Twilight), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time, Steelheart, and The Mistborn series), and Eric Flint (the 1632 series), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven).

I have attended two of David’s intense week-long writing workshops. While at those workshops, I went on to meet and become good friends with three very talented women, Tina Smith (AKA Tina Gower-winner of last year's Writer's Of The Future's Contest), Kary English and Diann Read, as well as others who were unable to attend Superstars this year. 

Through Diann, Dave, and Kary, I discovered Superstars Writing Seminars last year. It was a transforming experience in countless ways. I have just spent the last three days at Superstars doing my best to glean insights into what it takes to be a successful author, (in other words, learn how an author can make a living at what he/she loves to do.)

The leadership of Superstars is second-to-none. Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Dave Farland, Eric Flint, Brandon Sanderson, and James Artimus Owen are individually six of the most successful authors in the world. Together, they are an incredible think tank of AWESOME. What makes them even more amazing is their willingness to share with their fellow authors how they got where they are today. None of them took the same pathway to success, and none made the journey without overcoming many hardships.

It is inspiring and a great privilege to learn from these amazing instructors, as well as their guest speakers: Lisa Mangum, acquisition editor at Shadow Mountain, Mark Lefebvre, an executive with Kobo books, and Diana Gill, an editor at Harper Voyager. Both women gave great advice to authors who want to leap out of the slush pile and into the hands of an agent--a critical first step to becoming traditionally published. Mark did a great job showing us that Kobo is an author-friendly resource and a great way to get more exposure for your e-books. (and on a side note, all three are super nice people.)


My artist son and his friend were thrilled to tag along when I picked James Owens up from the airport. Since they had read James' book: Drawing Out The Dragon (in which he drew the dragon you see below), it was especially cool for my son to meet a successful artist.

Two of my daughters, and one of their boyfriends, wanted to meet David Farland and James Owen. Each man took time to talk with them, sign books, and answer questions. Then the three kids browsed the stacks of books for sale and found a few more they wanted. I introduced them to the authors of those books.

Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson graciously discussed a joint love of zombies, vampires, and Star Wars with my kids. Which in turn earned me great ‘mom points' for introducing my kids to the authors. Win/win on both the mommy and the author fronts.

Writing books is a pretty solitary endeavor—except for all of the characters in your head begging you to tell their story. (That part of being an author is phenomenal.) Things like trying to figure out how to improve your craft, market your books, and formatting an e-book can be exhausting and frustrating. 


Writing conferences like Superstars and LDStorymakers recharge an author’s creative batteries and sense of purpose. They give you hope, renew your focus, and validate what an author does—which many of the instructors emphasized as: "Being an author is the greatest job in the whole world."

I concur... and furiously scribbled notes of insight as they gave advice on how to make a living at my career of choice, so that one day, I too, can join the ranks of bestselling author and make a living doing what I love.

For those of you who couldn’t attend, here’s the main secrets: Write the best book you possibly can, have it read by several beta readers, get it professionally edited, make the changes that will turn it from a good book into an amazing book, send out queries or indie publish, and move on to the next book.

Keep multiple projects going so that you can be in several stages at once: querying for one book, writing another, doing edits on a third. If you just write one book and stay focused on that one until it sells, you are wasting a lot of time (and that could turn into years). Instead, write more books, perfect your craft, and tell the other stories in your head. 

Having multiple projects opens you up to more possibilities as well as opportunities. When you are a known producer of quality projects, other people get interested and may open doors you never dreamed of. And the truth is, when you find a reader who loves your book, they often want to buy another book. If you don't have one to offer them, they will go elsewhere.

It is equally important to network: learning from and sharing with like-minded individuals. At Superstars, the combined knowledge, resources, and talents of the attendees is mind blowing. We have lawyers who know how to read contracts, marketers who know how to navigate all the many avenues of social media, authors in all stages publication: indie, hybrid, and traditionally, all of which are willing to share the secrets to success and the pitfalls of each path.
  Superstars attendees range from unpublished newbies in the business to internationally bestselling authors who have been around for decades. 

Each has the same goal: to tell a great story and make a difference in the life of their reader. Writing conferences are a wonderful place to make that happen. (Oh, and they sure are a lot of fun!) 

Laugh lots ... love much ... write on!

by: Monique Bucheger

For information on next year's Superstars Writing Seminar (Feb 5-7, 2015) stay tuned here.
For information on this year's LDStorymakers Conference (April 24-26), click here. (You don't have to be LDS to attend. Orson Scott Card is the keynote speaker on Friday night.)


  1. Well-said, Monique. These events are more vital than ever for a serious writer, given how fast the industry is changing. It's imperative to have the support from professionals and fellow authors, and it's great to know there is such a massive pot of people out there rooting for you. Here's to seminars!

  2. Thanks,Raphyel, I couldn't agree more. I love getting to know other authors. It has been my experience that authors are willing to help one another. With the publishing industry in such flux, all authors, no matter what their experience, need each other and the goodwill that is generated when we help one another.

  3. Nice post, Monique. Every time I attend a conference, I come away on a high.

    1. I agree, Michelle. Writers conferences are a great way to get recharged. :-)

  4. Writers conferences always get me pumped up. Kathy and I went to the San Diego State University's 30th Anniversary conference the end of January, and it was awesome!

    Thanks for such an informative post, Monique.

  5. Great post, Monique, and it sounds like it was a great conference! Your kids getting to come and geek out was a nice bonus. Isn't it great when our kids share our interests?