Monday, May 16, 2011

Three Tips for Monday

Mary Connealy and me at the 2008 ACFW Conference. She won a Book of the Year Award and I won a Genesis Contest Award.

Conference Registration is now open for the 2011 ACFW Conference and excitement is building. Have you been to a writer's conference before, or a professional conference of any kind? I love the ACFW Conference. Seeing friends, great classes, the awards banquet, inspiring keynote much fun.

This will be my fifth ACFW Conference and my sixth writer's conference. Each one has been different and amazing and educational and pivotal.

Conferences can be so overwhelming, and I surmise that for a lot of writers it is because our expectations are out of whack with reality. We all dream of sitting down with an editor who, upon reading our stuff in a 15 minute appointment, loves it so much she promptly offers you a seven figure deal and promises your work will be made into a movie that will become an iconic franchise in Americana. (I can't be the only one...can I? {crickets chirping.......} )

Anyway, with about 120 days until the ACFW Conference rolls around, how can we be preparing, realistically. Here are three tips:

1. Manage Expectations. Don't go to the conference expecting to receive a book contract. Don't make that your focus or your goal. No editor is going to offer you a contract based on a 15 minute meeting. They don't carry contracts around in their pocket. They don't have their pub board on speed dial, just waiting to call them with the next BIG DEAL. Instead, go to the conference planning to make connections, meet people, deepen your knowledge of the craft, and make some amazing memories. Lay the groundwork for the future.

2. Write. Don't spend the summer worrying about the conference. Write. Write the best proposal you can. Write the best story you can. Write because you are a writer. Don't spend your summer fretting, or sitting on your laurels. Already have a proposal polished up? Great! Now write the book. Already have a book finished that you want to pitch? Great! Write another one.

3. Meet people online and make plans to meet up at the conference. Become friends with people who will be attending, so you can have a support staff and be a support staff for the ups and downs of the conference. You'll want someone to sit with, to celebrate with, and to pray with. A 500+ person conference can be a lonely place. Don't isolate yourself and not take the opportunity to meet people before you show up in St. Louis. Follow blogs, comment, find folks on Twitter and Facebook. You can make friendships that will last well beyond the conference.

What's your favorite tip for prepping for a writer's conference?

Oh, and because the bloggaversary post got eaten by Blogger(!!!!) and I wasn't able to save the comments before Blogger blew them away, you have until midnight tonight to get your name back into the drawing for my first Seven books and a $10 gift card to an online bookstore.

Also, I'm blogging this week over at so please stop on by and say hello!


  1. Poor Blogger had a bad Friday 13th day. My Thor post got blown away too. Anyway, Congrats about your blogaversery! Time flies and occasionally so do Blogger posts.

  2. Smile often. Remind yourself you know your story better than anyone. Share the excitement of it.

    I shall see you there!
    ~ Wendy

  3. As someone that just registered for September's first one (Ahhhhhh!), I'm keeping my expectations very basic. Along the lines of: learn all I can, meet some other writers in person and don't walk around with food in my teeth. :)

  4. I'm headed to our local chapter of ACWA conference this friday. I'm really looking forward to meeting in person some of my on-line writing friends.
    If you're feeling awkward or lonely, chose someone else sitting/standing by themselves and ask them what they write. You'll make a new friends and be chatting in no time. :)

  5. I signed up for the conference last night. I'm excited about sharing the experience with my new writer friend, Lacie Nezbeth, who lives near me. I'm also excited about seeing my far away friends in person. I've got a hug ready for you, Erica. =)

  6. I signed up too! I can't wait! Have to call and register with the hotel!

  7. I'm all signed up and counting the days, hours, minutes, and seconds. :) I love your advice about making connections before you go. Last year's ACFW conference was my first, and I felt at home immediately when I met all my blogging buddies in person. I would have been scared spitless otherwise. :)

  8. I'm still praying about whether I can go or not. I'd love to, but some things have to happen first. :)

    I love your tips for going to a conference. I think going to learn and enjoy the fellowship with other writers is a GREAT goal to have!

  9. I SO wish I was going. I think for me the highlight would be meeting up with blogging buddies like you!