If you are a writer...or want to be one...go to a conference!
Granted, not just any conference. A reasonably recognized one where they will have top-notch faculty is of course a better use of your time and money. But nowhere but the uncommon setting known as the writer's conference will you learn so much or have the chance ot rub elbows with so many great and influential people as you will on one of these sojourns.
At the ACFW conference this year, I had the chance to:
- Pitch my manuscript to three people who either would never take an unsolicited email from me, or else never would have found that email in the pile of messages that clamor for their attention. Two of these connections resulted in a solicitation of either a full or partial manuscript.
- Sit under the teaching of someone as awesome as Chip MacGregor and learn the world of fiction marketing in two short days. Jim Rubart, author of the fascinating sounding Rooms also provided insight. The two of them together had us rip-roaring in gales of laughter one minute, while feverishly scribbling notes the next.
- Participate in an awards banquet where pioneers of the industry came along side wide-eyed unpublished authors (like me.)
- Meet friends I've only ever known by screen names and avatars, and forge friendships I know will stand the test of time.
- Encourage others by offering a sympathetic ear, the gift of a well-timed prayer, or cheers and props when the weekend treated them well.
- Even after it was all said and done, I was able to ride the wave of inspiration and plot out my entire season of Windrider stories while I sat at the airport. That is nothing short of a miracle for this seat of the pantser.
And the list goes on. But I won't. (After all, the marketing class did say blog posts over 250 words are effectively talking to yourself. I'm hoping fiction is an exception. Ahem.)
But I do have to say, I don't know how anybody does more than a couple conferences a year. I was delirious with exhaustion by Sunday night. Like words slurring and coherent thought next to impossible exhausted. But would I trade the opportunities, the connections (or even the food) for a normal weekend of sleep? Not on your life. And for those of you who know my priority I put upon sleep, that's saying something.
So, if you want to be published some day...get thee to a conference. You won't regret it.