Reading through a few agent blogs, I notice that one or two mention the helpfulness of attending writer's conferences...how true is this?
I'm looking around and haven't found any in my area and even if they were, they are expensive. Is it worth several hundred dollars (plus hotels) in hope that an agent might recognize my query letter a few weeks later?
Writers' conferences are good for a lot of things - mainly, hearing agents talk. Generally, they will not be a huge help in getting you an agent unless you are exceptionally lucky. Seeing as how agents have live journals and web logs these days, I would say that it's not worth your money.
Of course, that's also because I find sitting in a room with a group of fellow unpublished, desperate writers to be the world's most depressing experience. The second is reading any issue of Writer's Digest.