The Seattle skyline as seen from a ferry. Picture by Kate Ota 2015
I’m starting a new series of blog posts I’m calling: is it worth it? I’ll be telling you if various conferences, classes, and even craft books are worth the price/time. It’s all my opinion, so take my reviews with a grain of salt.
The Seattle Writing Workshop was planned to be a one-day event near Seattle, WA with five sessions and fifteen classes. Lunch was not included. For $69, the conference runner would critique your one-page query. For $89, another professional would critique your first ten pages. For $29 each, you could pitch to an agent, as many as you were willing to pay for. Attendance was $189. Due to COVID-19, the conference went online, without a change in prices. However, the schedule was changed to be three days, each with five sessions each, none over-lapping. This allowed conference attendees to attend all sessions, instead of just five. Attendees also got three free sessions later. All sessions were recorded and sent to attendees afterwards.
The Seattle Writing Workshop is part of a series of workshops, so if the Seattle part doesn’t apply to you, see if there is one in your area.
I really enjoyed a few sessions in particular: Creating Perfectly Imperfect Characters presented by Cody Luff, How to Apply the Five Most Powerful Methods of Story Creation for Your Novel presented by Jim Rubart, What Happens After Your Get an Agent presented by agent Britt Siess, and the first pages critique panel with five agents (Cate Hart, Hope Bolinger, Jacqui Lipton, Carlisle Webber, and Leslie Sabga.) I took away enough new information from each of these to feel like I benefited from watching.
A few sessions didn’t apply to me, like the ones focused on YA, MG, picture books, and non-fiction. Therefore, I didn’t watch these and can’t speak to their level of usefulness.
As with any conference, as few sessions didn’t work for me. Some speakers got lost in an unhelpful tangent or spent too long pitching us their books.
Speaking of pitching, I signed up to pitch some agents. Doing it over phone or zoom was a little awkward. Yes, more awkward than a face-to-face encounter. I felt like I was doing a sales call, rather than a personal pitch. However, any opportunity to have any connection with an agent is so tempting for me, that I might sign up for virtual pitches again if attending another online conference.
Is it Worth It?
As a virtual conference, I didn’t get my main objective: connection with fellow writers! I’m new to the area and wanted to meet a critique group, beta readers, or even just one critique partner. Alas, the virtual conference allowed for almost no contact with other attendees. There was a little-used hashtag and a Facebook group popped up afterward, but that’s not really what I wanted. If this conference happened again next year IN PERSON, I’d attend. I’d still want to meet other writers (and pitch in person if I’m still not represented.)
If this workshop was virtual again, I’d pass. Unless the price was dropped by at least half.
Did you “attend” the virtual Seattle Writing Workshop? Did you get any of the critiques offered and were they worth it? Let’s discuss in the comments!