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Conference Preparedness Series Introduction

Monday, August 11, 2008

As I’ve been promising, today kicks off a new series on the blog to help everyone get excited about and ready to attend a writers’ conference. Yes, I know not everyone here is going to the ACFW conference, but you should plan on attending some kind of writing conference—and soon! So even if this isn’t helpful to you right now, I hope that you might be able to pick up some pointers for when you do attend a conference (and as with all of my series, it will be indexed on the Writing Series Index page for future reference).

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be looking at different aspects of the conference, from why we go to how to prepare mentally and spiritually, to pitching, to getting over the nerves, to keeping the motivation going after the conference is over. I’ve got some fabulous guest bloggers who will be featured every day, so I hope you’ll check in often to see what people are saying about conferences.

Why do I attend conference?
At the MTCW meeting this weekend, the question was raised as to why published authors attend conferences, especially when the author is already agented. I’m in a kind of limbo place this year—I’m contracted and the first book is already available for preorder, but it hasn’t come out yet. So I don’t have a book to sign like other published authors. I’m not teaching any classes. Why am I so excited about attending.

1. Networking Opportunities. This is the one time a year when I am surrounded for three or four days by other writers and professionals who share the passion I hold for writing. It’s my chance to extend my circle of friends and acquaintances, as well as get to know the editors and agents in the industry better. And, it’s a way of building name recognition so that when my book does come out, people who were at that conference will pick up the book when they see it at the store because we met at conference.

2. Educational Opportunities. The past few years, I’ve been a little sad that I haven’t gotten as much out of attending the conference as I felt I could have. But that’s mainly because I hold an advanced degree in the subject and there wasn’t much offered for advanced-level writers who weren’t published. This year, I’ll be able to attend the classes for published authors and really start digging into what it means to have a writing career.

3. Opportunities with Editors. Yes, that’s right. Even though I’m “published,” I still have a list of editors (from my agent) that I need to talk to at the conference about future projects (my historical and my small-town series). As I said at our meeting Saturday, a published author is only as good as her next book contract. Plus it’s a way to find out where the industry is going, what kinds of stories are selling (and what aren’t), and which houses are looking for what I’m writing.

4. MOTIVATION. Just like Youth Week when I was a teenager, I look forward to the ACFW conference every year, because it’s the place where I go recharge and get excited about writing again. In addition to the opportunities I mentioned, conference gives me a boost spiritually, mentally, and emotionally and makes me want to go home and write until my fingers fall off.

If you’re still on the fence about attending the ACFW conference next month, I hope this series will help you decide (and don’t forget, this Friday is the deadline to register at the Standard Rate with no late fees). If you haven’t decided yet, what are the questions that are keeping you from making the decision?

If you are attending, what are your reasons for making the decision and the investment to go?

7 Comments
  1. Monday, August 11, 2008 11:20 am

    I’m even more excited to go than I was last year. Motivation is a huge factor for me too.

  2. Monday, August 11, 2008 11:32 am

    I like the experience of pitching. I’ve attended my New England SCBWI conference this year and last year and pitching has been helpful. I usually fine one or two classes that are interesting or helpful, though not so much, since like you I’ve got a Master in Writing and I tend to know most of what’s taught.

    I’m awful at networking. I’m sooooo shy. I just don’t do well in groups. Very very hard for me.

  3. Monday, August 11, 2008 11:51 am

    Not that I’ve ever tried, but I’m not sure conferences are my style, plus I don’t exactly have the personal funds to travel to such things right now anyway.

    Maybe when I get to the point that I’m a little better off financially, this is something I could look into – but obviously not the ACFW since my writing doesn’t fit that description because I generally keep my faith out of my fiction.

    I imagine it’s a very helpful thing for those that fit it though.

  4. Monday, August 11, 2008 1:57 pm

    You gave lots of great ideas, kaye. I am really looking forward to this series!

  5. Monday, August 11, 2008 7:44 pm

    I look forward to seeing people again, sitting in the classes and soaking up everything I can, meeting editors, seeing my agent, and laughing with my crit buddies until I hurt.

  6. Monday, August 11, 2008 8:45 pm

    This will be my first ACFW conference, and I am so excited!! I’ve been to conferences for business quite a bit, so it will be nice to attend a conference that will be for MY passion. Reason? Well, I’m unpublished, but all the reasons you listed are check marked for me. Obviously the opportunity to get my name and pitch infront of agents or editors is a big reason, but just to have that dedicated time to work on my craft and be with other writers is huge.

  7. Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:20 am

    There’s just nothing like hanging out with other writers who get you.

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