There are many good reasons to attend a conference like Killer Nashville, the popular writers’ conference held this past weekend.
Of course there are the opportunities to learn. There were workshops on everything from coming up with an idea to rewriting and editing your manuscript to how to write a query and synopsis to managing your career and pretty much everything in between. One of the reasons I’ve always been high on KN is because it offers so many different options, with the opportunity to mix and match at will. Most of the time there were six sessions going on at any one time, so something for everyone. And while it seems to be mystery genre specific, many of the sessions are applicable to any genre of writing. We had romance, middle grade, young adult, non-fiction and other categories in attendance.
KN is unique from other conferences I’ve seen in they offer multiple tracks: Writing, Publishing, Career Management & Promotion, Forensic and even a Fan Track. There were a truckload of authors there willing to sign books, even for folks not attending the conference.
They did have a few “large group” meetings where everyone gathered. The opening session was a lecture by Dr. Bill Bass, the Forensic Anthropologist and creator of “The Body Farm.” Next Monday’s post will be about that session. Other group sessions included interviews with the guests of honor Heywood Gould, Peter Straub, and C. J. Box. Author, screenwriter and musician Clay Stafford, the creator of KN, moderated these sessions where the guests shared stories of both their success and struggles.
In years past, KN has offered the opportunity for participants to spend ten minutes with an agent to pitch their books. It was awfully long days for the agents–they were stuck in a room, talking one-on-one to writer after writer not really making a connection with anyone. Most of the writers were nervous and paced the hall before their pitch and found it hard to concentrate on the sessions. This year the conference organizers tried something different and I think it was a resounding success.
They had four agents and two editors. (One agent had an emergency and had to cancel at the last minute.) A roundtable format was set-up where each writer brought fifteen copies of the first two pages of his or her manuscript. Twelve writers, two agents and/or editors and a reader met for an hour and a half. This way everyone got to benefit from the feedback on everyone else’s work. In some cases the writer read his own work, with the reader only reading if the writer didn’t want to read. In other sessions, the reader read everything. After each piece was read, the professionals spent the rest of that individual’s time giving constructive feedback. If they liked someone’s work they could request more so there was the potential for participants to find an agent. The group setting seemed not to intimidate quite as much as the one-on-one sessions. The agents were still sitting in a room, but were interfacing with a group of people at a time which freed them to circulate more than in years past.
As always, it was a place to see old friends and make new ones. Clay set the conference up to have a “family” feel. He wanted the newby writer to feel free to chat with New York Times best selling authors. He wanted agents and editors to mix and mingle amongst the attendees. He wanted it real, and he succeeded.
Why don’t you mark your calendar for the third weekend in August next year? Come join the family.