Having just returned from the Florida Christian Writers Conference I decided to share my top tips for writers who attend such conferences. I shared Part One, a few days ago. Check it out if you haven’t already done so, then read the rest of my top tips! And, don’t forget — make it a priority to find and attend a conference as soon as you can!
In my experience (and I’ve been to several) they’re worth every ounce of effort, every mile driven or flown, and every dollar spent. I’ve been to some of the best!
But before I get to my list, I want to tell you what surprised me at the 2018 FCWC conference…
I thought I was a long way from home, but Kansas was also represented by Tamara Clymer of CrossRiver Media Group (www.crossrivermedia.com). We visited a couple times during lunch. I met writers, editors, publishers, and agents from the east coast and the west coast. From the very young to the very old. From first time writers to accomplished authors. What really amazed me, however, was that Canada, Ireland, and Ghana, West Africa were represented! FCWC truly is an international writers conference.
Wow! So thankful I had that opportunity.
More conferences on my schedule for later this year, but 2018 is off to a GREAT start, and God’s blessings just keep on coming!
So……plan your next/first conference as soon as you check out the rest of my top tips (again, they’re in no particular order)…
Bring business cards and share them!
At my first few conferences, I didn’t have cards as I didn’t consider myself a writer yet, though I’d written – on the job – for decades. Some of us have a hard time calling ourselves writers until we’re published, but having business cards is very important for networking, and especially so for one-on-one appointments with publishing professionals. Your cards should include your name, email address, and phone number as well as any website or social media presence you have, and perhaps even a photograph of yourself. Be sure you bring enough business cards to freely share with others.
Take care of yourself!
One thing newbies don’t realize is that – when attending a multi-day conference – you’ll reach a point where you’re quite sure your brain cannot possibly absorb any more information. You’re on overload! Seasoned conferees suffer from this, too, and we all know the signs! It starts with glazed-over eyes and a diminished capacity to smile. When you reach that point, just know it’s time to take a break. Take a walk. Skip the next session, and find a quiet corner where you can kick your feet up for a few minutes. Go for a walk, or sit in a corner, rocking back and forth for a few minutes – LOL! Do whatever it takes to chill, then jump right back in, ready to learn even more!
Share about your writing, and listen as others share!
Whether you share at the lunch table, or during a workshop, share what you’re writing. If a presenter asks for someone to use as an example, speak up. You may get some invaluable input from like-minded people. I did. You may have a lunchtime conversation that could be life-changing. I did. (A new friend is looking for her birth family and I suggested someone who could help, so I can’t wait to hear the rest of THAT story!) Or you may find someone to collaborate with on a future book. Speak up, but also listen!
Find your ‘takeaway’ or ‘action step’ from each session.
This is something you may not be able to do adequately until you’re back home. It takes a while to digest everything. As I read my notes afterward, I usually highlight at least one thing – sometimes more – from each session that I plan to implement. With so many nuggets of truth being shared by successful writers, it’s easy to WANT to mimic everything, but that’s not a reasonable expectation. So pick and choose what works best for you, then just do it!
Write thank you notes!
If you met with editors or publishers or agents, write a quick email to each one, thanking them for their time, and showing appreciation for their input or advice or encouragement. This follow-up might be what it takes to get noticed, and could lead to opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Plus, it’s just good etiquette!
If you’re asked to do something, do it!
Many times, an editor or publisher or agent will ask you to revise something in your proposal, or rewrite something in your manuscript then resubmit it. Take good notes when meeting with professionals, and then do what they ask. It has been said that only 20% of the people follow up after one-on-one meetings. Be in that 20%!
And, always…if God opens a door, walk bravely and confidently through it!
And, continue to do so. There will be other doors. There will be other conferences. Continue to walk through the doors He opens and continue to go to conferences. Continue to learn, because of what Hemingway said:
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”