Writer conferences are exciting. Being able to listen to an author give a talk or hear a panel of agents discuss the market, or even sit across from an editor at lunch and chit-chat about the wonderful time we're having made me aware of an often overlooked point in forums and blogs: despite the rejections and all the snarky comments we read about, people in publishing are some of the nicest people around! They truly are! I met nothing but highly enthusiastic, helpful people who wanted to find new authors and wanted to help. They want a great manuscript! They want one so bad that they spend endless hours of their free time reading through submissions in the hopes of finding one.
The afterglow of the New York conference lasted a long time, especially since a pitch session with a phenomenal editor led to my first full request (it was for that first book that should never have been queried/submitted in the first place...but still!). I know that we're "not in this business for rejections, glowing or otherwise," (Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire) but that was a pretty terrific letter, and it led me to understand where my voice truly lay.
If you have a polished, ready-to-submit manuscript, a conference is a fantastic place to make contacts, learn and have fun!