Friday, May 20, 2011

Our first internet writers conference

Last week we “attended” an online writers conference where presenters from around the country created the experience of attending a live conference by providing interesting presentations, discussion, and applicable materials. This was very different from the expensive travel and hotel costs to Oahu we incurred in 2009 to attend what turned out to be the last writer’s conference in Hawaii.

The conference subject was about e-publishing focusing on the complex technology and marketing issues of writing and selling e-books. Since the speakers were calling in from their homes or offices they were very relaxed, spontaneous and more technical than the typical professional conference speakers we have heard standing at a lectern above the attendees sitting in hard chairs in a crowded room. And, since the speakers did not have to take time from their busy schedules to fly to the conference, there was more variety in their expertise and backgrounds. We heard from publishers from both coasts, marketing professionals, and published writers making a living in remote parts of the US. We were mentally exhausted at the end of each day, just like regular conferences we have attended in the past.

We logged onto a voice cast of each speaker and moderator and during the sessions, we and the other attendees posted questions by typing them into a shared message board. Most speakers had a slide set that we could view online or print out. The speakers and conference hosts were located all over the country, in different time zones, yet they only had to call in for their hour presentation and question session.

The conference started at 9AM Pacific standard time and ended at 6PM, which meant we had to be up and ready to participate at 6AM. Conference participants in New Zealand (which is 22 hours ahead of Hawaii time) had to be up at 4AM in our tomorrow. The conference ended at 3PM for us which gave us plenty of time for our afternoon swim.

We are delighted to find that we can attend a conference from our couch in Kona and not disrupt our life in Hawaii. It saved us two roundtrip airfares to the mainland, a rental car, 4 days of hotel and food costs, and the hassle of travel. We look forward to relying on these types of conferences to learn new technologies, connect with others, and support our writing and publishing in Hawaii.

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