My general viewpoint on conferences is that they should be viewed as a working vacation. Part of this is because of what I write and what my expectations are.
The big conferences for Romance writers are RT (Romantic Times) and RWA National (Romance Writers of America). They serve different purposes.
RT is geared mostly towards readers, although they do have some writing classes. I’ve attended this conference as an aspiring author, published author and a reader. I’ve always viewed this particular conference as a working vacation. It was a chance to visit my author friends, Lyn Armstrong and Debbie Cairo. It was a chance to see a new city, visit friends and attend parties. I always attend writing classes there and go to publisher spotlights. I actually met both my publishers (Liquid Silver Books and Resplendence) at RT.
RWA is geared mostly to the business side of things. I’ve yet to attend this particular conference, even though I’m a member. I have attended regional RWA conferences including Midwest Fiction Writers and WisRWA. I found both beneficial to my writing career. Classes tend to revolve around business, craft, and publishing in general.
Some other conferences I’ve attended are Lori Foster’s RAGT (Reader and Author Get Together). This is also a reader geared Con, unlike RT it is much smaller and there are about ten readers for every published author. Lori keeps the author roster small so readers can interact. Maddy Barone introduced me to this Con and we’ve traveled the last two years together.
I’ve attended two local Sci-Fi con’s since I write Paranormal Romance. CoreCon and ValleyCon. I highly recommend if you write in a genre that falls into the genre of SFFP (Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal) that you consider attending a local or regional Con. It is a great way to meet readers and I find the communities, in general, to be very supportive of creatives.
There are also many Romance Reader Cons popping up. I ran across this website that might be helpful for those of you writing in the Romance Genre.
I usually attend RT when I can and if I can rope someone into going with me. RWA is still on my bucket list. I’ve attended Lori Foster’s RAGT the last two years. This year, due to my job loss, I’ve cut back on my conferences. I will likely only attend the local sci-fi cons and my annual writing retreat at the end of September.
Overall I love conferences and attend as many as my budget will allow. If nothing else I get a few classes in, meet a few new authors and network. That’s a win in my book.