Highschool Never Ends!

Highschool Never Ends!

A couple weeks ago, I was at a writing conference for Children’s Authors and I have to say that I’ve come away from it feeling enlightened and discouraged.

Sort of like my highschool experience.

I try to go to as many conferences and workshops as I can. I hope to connect with other writers, learn more craft to improve my writing, and mostly, I want to be inspired. So far, I haven’t been terribly disappointed and have always been able to take home something valuable.

A lot of these conferences are not cheap, but I feel the money spent on them has been well worth it. The only downside is that every conference like this so far has left me feeling just a little blah, filled with self-doubt and questioning myself why I keep going to them.

Why do I keep going to them you ask? Good question. I guess the enlightening conversations with other creators, the gathering of writing tools and overall inspiration for new material outweighs the negative.

This particular conference was no exception.

I arrived feeling ready to learn, with my computer and conference agenda handy. The day went pretty smooth. I heard great speakers and picked up some insightful tips about writing for kids. 

I chitty chatted with the occasional colleague at the coffee machine and listened to feedback during the Q and A session.

Was I really absorbed in the conference? Not really. Again, kind of like highschool.

I find I learn my most valuable lessons and have my most life changing experiences outside of the classroom. This time, it was in the hotel bar.

It was getting towards the end of the day and my husband and I had just gotten back to the hotel after dining. As we were passing by the bar, I recognized a fellow writer. She was sitting with some other conference attendees and welcomed us to join them.

I need to confess...I’m not a joiner. I like to coast through on the sidelines and observe.

I’m comfortable with this choice to be an introvert and my intentions at these conferences are more to focus on the learning of craft rather than to socialize.

But, something told me that I should get out of my box and join them. So I did.

Treading carefully, I casually immersed myself in the conversation. At first, it was all small talk about the conference, but before I knew it, we were all sharing our different views about the Kid Lit Publishing industry. It was awesome.

Gradually and one by one, people went off to bed, but my writer friend and I stuck it out till late into the night. Still awesome, right? Well...

It was right around this time that our conversation went off the rails. She told me that there were people at the conference who looked down on Indie Authors.

Looked down on me.

Our discussion had been about the differences in traditional publishing versus indie publishing. Because both of us follow different paths in this, it had been a really interesting conversation, until her comment. 

I let it fly. But I have to be honest, it did bother me. At first. How could it not?

And then I thought about it a little more.

Here's my take on this...

As far as I know, the organizations and their committees that hold these types of conferences, somewhat depend on funds and appearances by the traditional publishers, editors, and agents to keep the conferences running. I get this, it's expensive to hold them and they need professional talent to present at them.

What I definitely know is that the organizations also depend on the members (writers and illustrators) to pay their membership fees to the organization also to help keep the conferences running and to pay attendance to the conferences and to actually go to them.

What I try to remind everyone is that included (and therefore needed) in some of these groups of members (who contribute to the conferences by helping to pay for and going to them) are Indie Authors and Self-Publishers.

However you/me/we decide to publish or fit into this publishing industry, we all contribute and we all can have value and give value to each other. Because in the end, what matters is not necessarily where the books are coming from, but where these books are going…to the kids.

 I’m proud of the fact that I’m Indie. I’ve learned so much and grown so far because of who I am. 

I'm proud to say that I write all my own stuff and I’ve learned how to write better because I want and choose to. I’ve learned how to build a website and platform all by myself. I’ve learned how to search for an illustrator and editor. I’ve learned about different Print on Demand publishing routes and researched much about the Traditional ways to get some context. I’ve learned about marketing and advertising all on my own. I’ve learned a lot and some of it, the hard way, but I’ve learned it and... at least I’ve tried.  Honestly, it’s going to take a lot more than peer pressure or fear of being different to keep me away.

I hope to keep connecting with all types of other writers and creatives. I hope to keep learning more craft in order to improve my writing. Mostly, I hope to keep being inspired. Do I hope to be accepted by my peers? Maybe. Will not being accepted keep me from going to the next conference?

Absolutely not.

Tracy Bryan is an award-winning Indie Author. She writes whimsical books for kids ages 4-12. She likes to tackle important and diverse topics that affect kids and their families.

Tracy’s debut fiction picture book with illustrator David Barrow is called Put Away Your Phone!  and they just released their second picture book together called Too Many Things! 


  1. Cat Michaels says:

    Awww, Tracey, what a conundrum. As an Indie, I also feel like an outsider attending most writing conferences, where focus is usually on trad publishing… sending queries, getting agents, etc. Many trad-pub authors are astounded by the amount of marketing and social media we do as Indies, thinking their publisher will manage those aspects. Wrong! I also hustle to learn strategies to help my career path and find networking is the best part of the conference experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ( Love your blog graphics!)!

    1. Tracy Bryan says:

      Hi Cat! Just saw your comment and want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. So nice to know someone who “gets” it. I believe in karma, so hang in there my friend…all the good we do will eventually be enjoyed, appreciated and possibly respected by somebody(s). If not from the “academia” then atleast by the kids:) Great to have a support team though:)

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