Long ago, the annual Writer’s League of Texas conference was called the Agents & Editor’s Conference. It cost under $300 and featured about two dozen industry pros in a weekend setting. The current edition for 2011 is likely to sell out at $439 and includes few editors. Training in the craft has slipped away from the schedule of the Texas Agents Conference, but it’s still a great place to pitch a book and learn how to do that better. A $250 flight away, there’s a bigger and better alternative, it would appear.

The San Francisco Writer’s Conference is only $106 more than the Austin event, if you register by Aug. 31. The 2010 conference sold out, perhaps on the strength of 50 writing workshops during the three days of the event — plus an Ask a Pro session of the editors, Speed Dating pitches, four included meals and multiple keynotes. That’s craft, that’s contact with the trade professionals, that’s meals. I’ve found decent rooms in downtown SF for as little as $80 a night, including wifi. The SF event is scheduled for Feb 18-20, 2011. It seems like a long way off until you start looking at the time left to do your revisions and write your bang-up synopsis. Plenty of details online at www.sfwriters.org.

Having been to San Francisco in February many times, I can report that it’s one of the best respites from Austin’s cedar season, has great public transit and feels like a real break you deserve over a long weekend. Or you can see how it goes for you in the Austin heat of June during 2010, then try a different approach at a conference backed by the 38-year-old Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency. The agency’s website says that its agents “must find new writers to stay in business.” That’s refreshing. So many agencies are sticking with series deals from established clients.

To be fair, the next conference in Austin features a pre-conference seminar led by Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada. She’s here in Texas looking for those new writers, too. $60 to attend McLean’s seminar. Extra, on top of the $439. If only Macworld Expo could move its 2011 meeting into February, I could make it an extended week-long trip. I guess it’ll be two respites from the cedar for me. Darn, only one handkerchief for the weekend, instead of one per day.

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