Saturday, May 17, 2008

WORD: Writing Conferences for WriTeens

by Gabrielle Linnell

Writing conferences as a WriTeen are usually awkward. You're much younger than every one else; people may ask you why you're not in school (on a Saturday.) Condescension and snobbery may be abundant. On the other hand, you can make some really cool car-owning writer friends and, more importantly, the Big People who come to conferences. Where are these confs? How should you go?

1. Google your local writing organization. The closest city to you probably has a writer's organization. If you can't find it through the internet, pick up Writer's Digest or The Writer and look in the back for an index of upcoming conferences (organized by state.) These are cheap!

2. Google your local WriTeen club. I know that in Virginia, the Virginia Writers' Club has a Young Writers division. This division usually has an annual conference just for WriTeens! Look around for these, because they'll have more young adult authors and kids just like you.

3. Prepare questions. When I went to the last conference, I asked a prominent literary agent for advice on getting into the business. Think about what you want to find out. Your youth may work in your favor with answers. If you have specific people you want to meet (editors, favorite authors, literary agents) check their websites for conferences they're attending.

4. College applications! Definitely put this on your application. List any famous authors or editors that were there, and the ones that you met. This proves to your school of choice that you're serious about what you love, and pretty darn good at doing it.

5. If you can go to BEA... Technically, I'm doing a European trip for graduation. But I really, really want to go to BEA Expo. This is the biggest industry conference in the States and you would not believe how many mind-blowing authors and editors go there. This is like Literary Super Bowl. If BEA is affordable/manageable, GO.

Gabrielle Linnell has been published about twenty-five times. She enjoys prom, prom and after-prom. Have fun, everyone!

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