The American Society of Journalists and Authors will host its 44th annual conference from April 30th to May 2nd in NYC. Writers from across the country will attend 50+ informative sessions; one-on-one meetings with editors, agents, and publishers; three pitch slams; networking events and a keynote speech by bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan. Laura Laing, a freelance writer, shares why the ASJA conference is a crucial investment in her career. This post was originally published on the ASJA website on February 18, 2015.
My family knows not to schedule anything for the last weekend in April each year. For the last five years, I’ve spent those days at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City at the ASJA annual conference.
It’s not easy to rearrange my work and family schedules. And I could spend the money on something else. But it’s worth it—every single time. These days I don’t even question the decision. And here’s why.
I Learn Something New
I’ve been a full-time freelancer for 10 years, and I’ve been in journalism for a lot longer than that. I have two books under my belt and written for some of the top publications and companies in the U.S. What more can I learn?
A few years ago, I learned how a blog can help me build my platform. Last year, I got insight on science markets. Then there were workshops on memoir and branding and social media. These were all skills that I could put to work immediately, keeping me ahead of the curve and in front of new trends in our industry.
I Feel Inspired
Working at home by myself, it’s easy for me to feel jaded. One rejection can dampen my mood for hours, and difficulty with a project can make me question why I’m a writer at all.
Conference sessions, speakers and fellow ASJA members give me a high that lasts for weeks and weeks. Each time I leave the conference feeling worlds better than I did when I arrived. I’m reminded that others are on a similar path, facing similar obstacles and triumphs, and I’ve got this.
I Meet New People—and See Old Friends
I do not know a lot of freelance writers in my neck of the woods. And the pull of everyday life often means that I put off hanging out with the handful that I do know. The ASJA conference is where I can really connect with other writers. We share stories and advice. We often take in a Broadway show or have dinner and drinks.
And those connections don’t end there. From my contacts at ASJA, I’ve gotten referrals to new work and learned about additional training opportunities. I probably email with someone from ASJA at least once a week. Plus, my ASJA friends are better at boosting my confidence than anyone else I know at home.
There are plenty of other reasons to attend this year’s conference, Connect for Success, including meeting agents or editors who are looking for terrific writers. (Rumor is the Client Connections session will be phenomenal this year! That’s when you can sign up to meet one-on-one with individual agents, magazine editors or other clients.) This year’s speaker, Jennifer Finny Boylan, is dynamite. And a few days away from the regular grind is not a bad deal.
Whatever you’re looking for, check out the conference schedule. I’ll bet you’ll find something amazing to look forward to. And don’t forget to sign up before March 27, to get the early-bird rate.
I’ll see you there! Make sure to introduce yourself. I’m sure we’ll teach each other something new, feel inspired and become old friends.
Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation’s professional organization of independent nonfiction writers. Our membership consists of more than 1,100 outstanding freelance writers of magazine articles, trade books, and many other forms of nonfiction writing, each of whom has met ASJA’s exacting standards of professional achievement. Connect with ASJA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About Laura Laing