Ooligan Press is hosting its annual writing conference, Write to Publish, and the question on everyone’s mind is, should I go? Or rather, will it be worth it?

We all know that there’s some negativity surrounding writing conferences. Some say it’s a waste of time, that the panels will go over things that you, as well-educated and well-researched writers and artists, already know. Others harp about how they didn’t snag an agent, so why go at all? I’m not proud to admit it, but I used to be one of the naysayers.

And the sad fact is those gripes are true, with a few caveats. Some writing conferences do tend to generate the same material. These conferences tend to be skewed to budding writers and not to the more advanced ones. It may seem like the speakers are just reiterating the basics and that can be frustrating for long-time writers.

Ooligan Press’s annual conference, Write to Publish, tries to remedy that. Our conference is more than a writing conference—it’s also a publishing conference. Our panels will not only talk about the craft of writing, but also how to actually get your work out there. The straight talk about contracts and rights, the how-to-fund-your-creative-project conversation, the professional platform discussion—these are all WtP panels intended to help you publish your work. They’re also designed to give you some insight into the (sometimes mysterious) publishing world.

But, even then, why go if you might not snag an agent? Maybe you have an amazing book or graphic novel—one you really believe in—but last time you went to a conference, you didn’t land an agent and felt like it was a wasted effort. Well, I’m here to deliver some cold, hard truth. Writing conferences aren’t a place for brokering big deals between agents and authors—they’re a chance to start a conversation between agents and authors. The Pitch Roundtable at Write to Publish probably won’t land you a seven-figure book deal and movie rights, but it is a chance to talk to agents and show them your work. Plus it makes a good conversation starter later on if you ever want to query them.

So, are writing conferences really a waste of time?

I don’t think so. I know now that conferences are more than a place to learn new aspects of the industry and hone a specific craft, they’re also a place to meet people and make connections. After all, you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals: authors, designers, publishers, editors, directors, agents. Talk to them! Learn from them. Network. Don’t be nervous about it, either. All the attendees and speakers are human—they won’t drop down from the ceiling and bite your head off. It really is the best time to talk with these people. You won’t have another opportunity like it and it might give you the “in” you’ll need later on.

Write to Publish is having a social hour at Rogue Hall here on PSU’s campus. Perhaps, in a more relaxed setting and with a drop of liquid courage, the networking task might not seem as daunting.

Should you go to Write to Publish this upcoming year? Yes.

Our panelists are coming from all over the United States. They are highly trained professionals in their respected fields, ranging from marketing, publishing, and art directing, to authors, editors, and cartoonists. You’ll be in the same room with them—it’s an amazing opportunity. Plus, it’s the biggest annual fundraiser for Ooligan Press, so you’ll be helping us out, too.

Check out Write to Publish for more information about our conference.

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