I spent last week at the Historical Novel Society’s virtual conference (in place of its in-person conference). The HNS is for all authors of historical fiction–mysteries, romance, thrillers, mainstream fiction, adventure fiction–any fiction as long as it’s historical.
Because I’ve been helping my mom move, I didn’t get to “attend” all the sessions I wanted to so I will have to catch the recordings, but that’s fine.
I have been inspired by the sessions I did get to, including two master classes on historical fiction and publishing. So much great information, plus it gave me a lot of confidence in what I’m writing now plus ideas for new things in the future.
(Sometimes people are surprised that I go to conferences and attend sessions and classes, but there is always something new to learn. I don’t care how long you’ve been in your chosen field–the day you think you know it all is the day you truly don’t.)
I find that I’m enjoying virtual conferences. The HNS said that this one had more attendees than ever. I did a virtual master class in dollhouse miniatures in early May, and it was wonderful. The attendees for that one were so enthusiastic that the miniatures organization is contemplating more online workshops (please do! Sending out hopeful vibes …)
I do miss the in-person conversations, dinners and lunches out, just hanging around the lounge and chatting with my writing friends, but I find that I have better focus in the classes and absorb more of the information when I’m learning at home, plus there are “face to face” questions and discussions via Zoom.
What I don’t miss is the hours of flying, annoying connections, bad food, mediocre but expensive hotels, and the time zone changes (east coast conferences for me are a pain in the butt, because not only are the flights long, but I lose three hours, so I always have to travel a day or two beforehand.) Paying only for the conference and focusing only on the conference is wonderful.
I’m hearing that many others are enjoying the online virtual conference experience, so much so that many organizations are thinking about keeping them virtual or going “hybrid,” with some in-person attendees and others joining online.
In my opinion, the hybrid conference would be wonderful. I can’t always take the time to get away (as I said, flying in one-two days in advance), and it gets expensive–writers conferences in the U.S. can set you back $1-$2K, and if you fly in internationally that price sharply increases.
How wonderful to attend conferences around the world without having to spend tons of extra time and money on it. (Time zones can still be challenging–an 8 am session Eastern Time for me means getting up at 4 am, and those in Australia attend most of the sessions in the middle of the night).
That is not to say I’m never going to an in-person conference again. Meeting up with friends and talking face to face with my editor and others in the industry is awesome–nothing can take its place.
But virtual conferences allow me to learn, connect, and experience without having to say no because of the time and travel factor.
Have you done virtual conferences this year? Are you eager for more, or done with them?