Last weekend I attended the first-ever WANACon – an interactive global conference for writers based solely online. Yup, you heard me right. The conference was fully online with a virtual classroom complete with audio, video, and chat capabilities – all that were used to maximum capacity. There was even a lobby where attendees could hang out in between seminars and chat.
WANA founder Kristen Lamb, her team at WANA International, and TechSurgeons (the genius behind all the technology) led the charge in this new and innovative approach at writing conference where you could simply log in from the comfort of your home and listen to top-notch presenters such as New York Times Bestselling author Allison Brennan, bestselling author Candace Havens, and the social media Jedi herself, Kristen Lamb.
You could even pitch to an agent while dressed in your pajamas, wearing a leopard-print slippers, and listening to “Eye of the Tiger” at your desk (and yes that’s exactly what I did, music and all).
There were no plane tickets to purchase, no convention centers to drive to, no hotel room costs. No downfalls whatsoever, and the only cost involved was the conference fee itself, which, let me just say was completely affordable and was well worth spending on the first day alone – much less the next day and half’s worth of seminars. 🙂
I ended up getting very sick on the 2nd night thanks to the dinner we ordered (for the record, food poisoning sucks!), but it was okay because I was still able to listen via conference phone. If that had happened at any other conference, I would’ve a) been totally embarrassed if the illness had happened in front of the attendees vs. the privacy of my own office, and b) wouldn’t have even been able to stick around and listen to the last presenter of the night <-- Which was publishing attorney Susan Spann, and she was incredible!
Still though, as sick as I was I couldn’t really take notes. So what did the fantastic moderator, Jami Gold, do? She put the word out to the other attendees requesting they share their notes from the presentation I missed – along with any other notes they’d like to share from the entire conference. How kind and thoughtful is that?
I haven’t been as involved in the WANA Tribe/Community as I’d like to be lately, and that’s mostly due to the revision hole I’ve dug myself into lately. But this conference, all of the amazing attendees, Kristen Lamb, the act of kindness by Jami and the attendees willingness to help another writer out when she was ill – all of it served as a reminder as to why I love the writing community as much as I do, why I love, love, love being on Twitter to connect with fellow artists, and why I absolutely should take the time out to continue to put myself out into the digital world more
WANACon is innovative, informative, exciting, fun, one-of-a-kind, and something I’d gladly do again and again. 🙂
But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the Storify stories Jami Gold put together that captures what WANACon attendees and WANACon presenters thought of the conference. And here’s another with quotes about WANACon from the blogosphere. If you’re up for it, go to the WANA Int’l site and register to receive updates on the next conference. Kristen’s looking at scheduling another soon – possibly in June – due to the ever-changing publishing industry and the need to keep writers informed and educated.
Your Turn: Would you attend an entirely digital writer’s conference? Does the thought of attending a writer’s conference in your pajamas interest you? What about the idea of learning from bestselling authors and industry professionals from the comfort of your own home? Do you think you may be interested in attended WANACon in the future?