I attend a few writers’ conferences in my area whenever they happen. Calvin’s Festival of Faith & Writing happens every other year. The Breathe Writers Conference happens yearly. The Jot Writers’ Conference happens twice a year (or whenever we manage to put one together). And I’ve seen enough to know that each conference has a specific clientele.
Attendees of the Festival of Faith & Writing are a diverse crowd. Their ages range from college student to retiree. Given the university backing, this conference always brings in big name speakers and draws attendees from all over the country, if not from all over the world. It is the conference to attend when you either want to learn about writing from authors you’ve read or when you have a finished book proposal that you’d like to pitch to the many publishers and agents that show up.
Breathe Conference attendees are less diverse. Though it is changing, the typical Breathe attendee is female, aged between 30 and 60, and has enough discretionary money and time to afford a yearly excursion into the world of publishing. Their speakers all know their stuff, but you may not have their books on your nightstand (for example, I’ve been a Breathe speaker before and I’m barely published at all). This is the conference to attend when you need to make some firm connections with other writers and publishers who live in the West Michigan area. Though some attendees come from further afield, most call West Michigan home.
Jot attendees are the best in the world. Since money isn’t a limiting factor to come to Jot, this conference appeals to people who want to dip their toe in the writing experience. That isn’t to say that accomplished writing professionals don’t also attend Jot, but you are going to see a greater percentage of average work-a-day fellows at Jot than you would at Calvin’s Festival of Faith & Writing or at Breathe. The speakers for Jot aren’t paid at all, so it is doubtful that you’ll see any millionaire authors headlining this conference, but that doesn’t make any difference to the people who come out for a free night of encouragement and education.
So which is the best West Michigan writers conference? Which one should you attend if you are interested in learning about the written word?
Attend them all and find out for yourself which is best. I can’t make that call for you.
(But I can tell you that Jot won’t cost you anything but your time and the next one is coming up soon – jotwritersconference.com)