Fearless Leader: About the Ninc Conference

- by Laura Resnick

So, what (I hear you ask, your voice breathless with trembling anticipation) do writers do in Ninc?

Well, when not practicing The Secret Handshake—which we’ll never ever ever show anyone—we do things like:

* Attend the Ninc conference
* Read our excellent monthly newsletter, Nink (go download a complimentary sample copy at Ninc.com)
* Talk, network, commiserate, share news, ask questions, and get answers on Ninclink, our e-mail list, which collective mind has so far never been stumped by a research question
* Blog (right here!)
* Work on Ninc anthologies
* Maintain and administer the Ninc Legal Fund, which is a benefit offered to members
* Find, develop, and offer special discount programs to our members (such as the arrangement we’re currently making with Bookscan)
* Provide industry news, useful information, and special member services on the Members Only pages of our website
* Explore advocacy issues of importance to career novelists, such as battles against copyright infringement and plagiarism, the subject of used book sales, egregious clauses in publisher contracts or agency agreements, the protection of intellectual property in the digital age, and who has the clear moral obligation to buy the first drink at the bar

So we keep busy.

To break it down further, I’ll start with our national conference, which is specifically-and-only for Ninc members, industry professionals, and guest speakers.

Most writing conferences focus the bulk of their efforts on workshops and events for aspiring writers. Others devote their programming to promoting writers to readers and fans. Both of these kinds of conferences are valuable, and most Ninc members appear as speakers and program participants at such events.

The Ninc conference is quite different, however. All of the workshops, sessions, and discussion groups are aimed entirely at career novelists. (Check out Ninc.com to see our list of conference program participants in 2008; and keep an eye on Ninc.com for the 2009 conference program, which will be posted as plans firm up.)

Some of the sessions are casual roundtables among members interested in a common business or craft or “writing life” topic, which may be anything from how to resurrect your career after a crash, to how to keep your aching body from falling apart at the keyboard while typing 50 hours/week, to the pleasures and pitfalls members have experienced when switching genres partway through a career, to how to cope with the unforeseen stress of success and increased expectations from New York. Since only members attend such sessions, and since everyone present is an experienced pro—there are no fans to impress, no misguided aspiring writers saying they’d gladly pay someone to publish them—Nincers tend to be unusually frank and forthright in this setting.

Additionally, the conference offers formal workshops aimed at career novelists, such as panel discussions featuring majors editors and agents; industry sessions featuring art directors, or marketing VPs, or head-buyers for bookstore chains; librarians and booksellers talking about what readers in their venues want (as opposed to what New York fondly imagines readers in Flyover Country want); research workshops offered by FBI investigators, or fencing masters, or forensic psychologists; sessions led by literary lawyers discussing new contractual trends, or by creativity coaches discussing the challenge of maintaining your stride through your 20th, or 40th, or 90th book; and so on.

So a Ninc conference is where, for once, the working novelist gets to fill his or her well, in a multi-genre crowd of career writers, rather than filling everyone else’s well at the many conventions that target readers and aspiring writers.

The next Ninc conference, by the way, will be in St. Louis, October 1-4, 2009.

And in future blogs, I’ll talk a little about some of the other Ninc benefits and activities mentioned above.

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