If you're just starting out, or if you're not a full-time writer, you might look at a writer's conference as an expensive gathering of the upper reaches of authordom. You couldn't be more wrong. Writer's conferences are fun gatherings for bestselling authors or self published authors and great stepping stones for beginners to move farther on their path to selling more books. They're not just about meeting authors and having them sign their books. That's probably the item you'll spend the smallest amount of time doing. On the other hand, going to the right writer's conference can improve your writing career in multiple ways:
All writer's conferences hold panels where experienced authors share their knowledge and experience. Want to know the tropes in science fiction romance? Looking for the future in thriller sales? Confused about outlining your novel? Panels are the place to learn about every aspect of writing.
Writers get ideas from all different places, but a writer's conference can stimulate your imagination, giving you ideas in directions you never even considered going.
There's nothing like hanging out with dozens or hundreds of people who are going through the exact same experiences you are. Knowing everyone around you has the same problems with saggy book middles, lackluster sales, or organizational skills is a great way to get yourself inspired. Just being in that writing environment can make you want to get out your laptop and start hitting keys.
Sure, you've got your network on social media, and maybe you're even in an online writer's group or two. That's nothing like meeting other writers in the flesh and getting to know each other. Some of your best book marketing ideas may come from these gatherings.
Meet Your Idols
Admit it. You've got your favorite bestselling authors that you'd love to meet. Everyone does. Writer's conferences are the place to meet them on an equal level instead of in the guise of a fan. It's a rare experience having drinks with someone whose books you've read for years.
A Change of Scenery
Everyone needs to change things up once in a while, and that doesn't mean moving your laptop to the nearest coffee shop. A different state, a different environment, will shake the cobwebs out of your mind and drag you out of your rut.
Carry around ARCs of your latest work in progress and hand them out to likely beta readers. Keep it to one or two chapters for responses at the conference, or give out copies of the entire book if you're willing to wait for feedback by email. It's great to get fresh eyes on your work.
No one's career is perfect, but it can give you a great feeling to find out that it's harder to get on Bookbub than anyone says, few people make enough money to live on right away, and almost everyone has a hard time with that first sentence. No, it's not just you.
Keep your receipts. Everything should be deductible, to a greater or lesser extent. Check with your tax accountant to be sure of the percentages, but with approval you could write off this event on your taxes.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be With You!