Sunday, September 05, 2010

Start Planning Now

Sometimes when you’re not involved in the planning for an event or class, it’s puzzling why the organizers did what they did. Why didn’t they choose a different subject? Why didn’t they do a panel discussion instead of a one person talk?

I know when I was the Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas, people would sometimes call and ask us to do a class on some specific topic. Since I was the one in charge of setting up all the classes and workshops and a lot of the retreats, I would try to arrange it. There were things to consider, though, like how long has it been since we did that subject? Did the class do well? Can I find an instructor? Should it be a half-day, full day, or weekend class? A lot of times, by the time someone called, the schedule of classes had already been set up months or even a year in advance. In that case, the suggestion might get relegated to the next year’s plan.

I’ve been involved with the planning for Texas Mystery Month (this used to be called Texas Mystery Week, but since events and presentations go on all month, we decided to change the name). Each year, early in the planning, the main topic of discussion is what to do during that month, May.

As with most “repeating” events, some things remain the same from year to year. But event organizers try to bring in new things, new subjects, new speakers, new ideas. For example, event coordinators may agree to focus on mini-workshops with some panel discussions. Then they come up with a beginning list of possible subjects, from writer’s block to dialogue, setting, and characterization, from putting humor or romance in a mystery to writing other things besides the novel, like plays or short stories. Then they have to find instructors. Not just any instructor – someone who’ll teach for free, if at all possible.

What this tells you is that planning for workshops or classes starts months or even a year in advance. If you have something you want to see or hear or even teach, get in on the planning. And do it early. Your input is wanted. Any organization that does education welcomes suggestions.

The organization or planners may seem to be focused on what they will do, who will teach, what venues will host these workshops, who will organize, who will do the work – the real mechanics of putting on any event or a month of events. But the real focus is on those the event is meant to benefit. That is, the authors who teach – the instructors hope they get exposure to new readers and maybe some book sales – and the people attending, most likely pre-published authors – they’re looking for valuable information and networking (even mentoring) with published authors.

But the only way to really get what you want is to get involved either by suggesting ideas or joining the committee, organization, or group. If your book comes out next Spring or next Summer, you need to be considering now what conventions you’d like to speak at and what you could add to the conference’s line-up. You need to be thinking about writers groups in your area that you could teach a class for and what would qualify you for that class. It seems a long way off, but it’s not.


  1. Conferences of take an incredible amount of planning, and when you're organising it you can't really relax until it's all over. A huge undertaking - goo dluck with yours!

    And this year is flying by so fast, a conference planned for next May seems just around the corner!!

  2. I'm no longer ED of WLT, but you're right, it is a lot of work. For an organization like WLT, you're setting up not just the yearly Agents conference, but the classes that go on year round.

    You're right, Judy, May is coming faster than we think.

  3. Event matter what the topic, involves a lot of forethought and incorporating lessons learned from previous years. I imagine with a writer's conference, it would also entail getting authors who not only write well, but ccan deliver orally...not an easy task I suppose.

  4. You're right, events like that require a tremendous amount of time and thought to layout and scheduling. Hopefully, your call-out here will produce a new batch of instructors!

  5. It was rather interesting for me to read this post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read more soon.

    Kate Smith

  6. If I wore a hat, it would go off to conference organizers. I'm not a process person, but I appreciate those who can hold committees together and see that all the weight gets pulled and the project is completed.

  7. Yes, planning a conference takes an awful amount of time. Right now I'm in the organizing committee for a summer research workshop (in geophysics), to be held i June or July 2011, probably in Montreal or Toronto. Planning started 3 months ago.

    For your conference some interesting topics could be new publishing trends in the computer world, like how to publish an e-book, and how to self publish ... for my conference, we will probably pick other topics, but some of them will be related to computers >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  8. I can't even imagine the stress of organizing a whole concert! So much work!

  9. I know conferences take a lot! I had to turn in the outline & proposal for my workshop and forum for this year's Muse Online Writers Conf. by the end of last year. Lea tries to nail all that down within two months of the conference's end.

  10. Many years ago, after you were a mermaid and I was a logger but still many years ago - I was a conference planner. For a job. Yikes. One would end which felt like a time to lie down and weep a little but NO back at it immediately. I never want to do it again. No.
    I'll organize myself getting to one though.
    Jan Morrison

  11. Cold, e-books and e-publishing would definitely be good topics, as well as Internet promotions.

    Jan, organize yourself to speak at one!

  12. I used to think I was extremely well organised till I organised my first conference - it was only a two day event, but phew!!!

    All the best.

  13. One day I will plan my book signing. I will have to ensure I make a space for my zimmerframe. ☺ LOL

    It takes a lot of thought and planning into large events. I have done a few in the past. It is keeping the subject flowing, and interesting for the regular annual followers that has to be carefully considered.

  14. Event planning! I can see how the time would fly by and nothing would be planned. I have trouble keeping to a schedule and keeping on top of networking and promoting.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...