When several hundred writers converged on the Downtown Marriott in New York City for ASJA2019, they were joined by others whose contributions and participation are equally as imperative to the success of the event. Dozens of magazine and book editors, book agents and vendors also played roles in the conference, whether it was to discuss story ideas, network or sell their wares.
For Richard Eisenberg, managing editor of Next Avenue and senior web editor of its Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels, the most recent ASJA conference was his fourth. A member of ASJA, Eisenberg has also been a freelance writer, so he has participated from both sides of the work desk.
He said this year’s two-day assemblage stood out for several reasons and was especially “impressed by the homework people I’d met with had done before meeting with me about Next Avenue. This year, all the people I met with were familiar with us and had taken the time to learn who we are and what we do.” Because of that, Eisenberg didn’t have to cope with his pet peeve about writers: Not being knowledgeable about the publication they are pitching.
Because Next Avenue publishes new content Monday through Friday, the site needs a considerable number of articles to fill its virtual white space. Now in its seventh year, the web site aimed at readers over 50 seeking to live their best life has “covered countless ideas,” said Eisenberg. If a writer would invest the few minutes it takes to research the site to determine if a topic had been written about, when the story was published and what its premise was, they could easily determine whether their pitch was a new take on an old idea or simply a tired suggestion, he said.
Because he participated in three panel discussions and Client Connections, Eisenberg didn’t attend too many conference sessions. While he is sorry about that, he did enjoy his participation at ASJA2019.
For Eisenberg, an added benefit of participating in the ASJA’s annual conference is the opportunity to meet with some of his current writers. Some of the wordsmiths he spoke with during ASJA2019 don’t write for his sections but for those of his fellow editors. As managing editor of the site, Eisenberg likes establishing personal connections with its writers.
For Christopher Gillispie, chief strategist at Find a Way Media, ASJA2019 was his first such experience. Unsure of what to expect, Gillispie said he was “struck at how comfortable ASJA speakers seemed.”
In contrast to the countless speakers he has heard at the dozens of other writers’ conferences, where breakout sessions “are packed with self-promoters,” presenters at ASJA2019 were the opposite.
The ASJA conference is “crammed with grand masters hungry to hand out knowledge like it’ll go bad if they don’t,” said Gillispie. In fact, he said he witnessed presenters providing answers to “questions that only come from doing the work and really sitting down with their craft.”
Gillispie was also impressed by the quality of writers with whom he conversed during the two-day event. “As an editor for a B2B content agency, I’d feel great about calling upon” any number of the writers at ASJA, he said.
Overall, Gillispie thoroughly enjoyed ASJA2019, although he admits he didn’t know what to expect. “It was both a surprise and a bargain.”
He plans to return to ASJA2020.
Tami Kamin Meyer is the Marketing Chair of the ASJA. She tweets as @girlwithapen.
Did you miss the conference? You can “attend” many of the sessions by downloading conference recordings. Full packages and individual session recordings are available now.