As more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, Inkers Con – an annual conference based in Dallas, Texas – will offer writers the best of both in-person and remote panels and workshops in June 2021. “We’ll have the energy and excitement of the live conference in Texas, and we’ll steal all the best pieces from our digital conference in 2020,” explains founder and New York Times bestselling author Alessandra Torre. “We’ll have international speakers and an international audience, plus plenty of interactive opportunities online.”
The event features classes from notable authors and industry experts, designed to help writers improve both their craft and their book sales. Participants will learn how to build their brands and expand their readership bases through workshops on marketing and advertising.
What you’ll learn at Inkers Con
In 2021, the event kicks off with a two-day master class. “These are smaller groups – 50 attendees or fewer – in a workshop environment with master classes on craft in the morning and time in the afternoon to meet with editors one on one and participate in critique circles,” Torre explains. Students will study characterization, plot, storytelling, and editing techniques. Each evening, a mixer gives participants a chance to network informally in a fun and relaxed setting.
Those attending the main conference are met with a lively cocktail reception, followed by a weekend of live presentations by professional authors, agents, and editors. Marketing classes will focus on brand-building and social media – for example, authors will learn how to sell books on Instagram; an in-person prop room on site will allow them to easily and professionally photograph and post images of their books.
Writing classes cover various forms of outlining, character building, revision techniques, and how writing sprints can benefit a manuscript. Attendees will learn about foreign publishing, how to distribute a book through various channels, how to promote a backlist, how to plan for taxes and manage finances, and how to increase productivity. In addition, participants will learn to write ad hooks and text, and how to use the website BookBub to sell more books.
Staff members have designated various spaces in the hotel as casual mingling areas, and a Write-a-Thon room welcomes those who want to work on a creative project in the proximity of other writers.
Tex Thompson is a writing coach and author of the Children of the Drought fantasy Western series. “She’s one of our most popular presenters,” Torre notes. Thomson’s workshops include “Creating Dynamic Characters” and “Editing like a Boss.”
New York Times bestselling science fiction author Mal Cooper will share her expertise about Facebook advertising – topics include design and copy, placement, targeting, and click-through rates.
The digital conference launches on July 16 – video presentations include closed captioning, transcripts, and audio-only files, available to participants worldwide. “We’ll have a dozen recorded workshops, and attendees will have access to all 10 live presentations recorded professionally in high definition, packaged and included as part of the digital conference,” Torre notes.
Advice for first-time attendees
Those interested in meeting other participants remotely beforehand can follow #inkerscon on Twitter and find the conference and attendees on Facebook and Instagram, as well.
Torre describes herself as an introvert at heart and keeps Inkers Con small and intimate so participants can easily meet and network with one another. “People tell me, ‘I never meet anyone at these things, but this time, I’m leaving with five or six friends,’” she says. “One person even left with a co-author. My advice is to attend as many events as you can, and don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, what do you write?’”
She notes that it’s too easy for writers to purchase a ticket to the remote event and tell themselves they’ll watch the online classes another time. “And then, they forget. Take advantage of everything that’s included in the cost of the remote conference,” she says. “If you’re attending live, you’re setting aside a weekend to devote to the event, so give yourself a similar schedule if you’re there remotely.”
Some authors get together in their region and watch the presentations together. Others watch alone in their homes or office spaces, with a live video chat running so that they can talk about the presentations with friends and critique group members after they watch them. “Have an accountability partner who pushes you to take advantage of everything,” Torre suggests. “Treat the online conference as if it’s live and make an investment in yourself.”
—Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019). Twitter/Instagram: @WildMelissaHart