Today, Inspire’s President, Robynne Miller, continues our series on conference-going with her advice for those of you preparing to attend a writers’ conference for the first time . . . or maybe even the second, or third!
The west coast’s Christian writer’s conference season is upon us … from West Coast Christian Writers in February, right through to Oregon Christian Writers in August, we have several solid writing conferences to choose from on the west coast.
If you’ve yet to go to a writers’ conference or have attended one in a state resembling a deer caught in the headlights, here are three tips for making the most of your Christian writers’ conference experience.
If all you have is an idea for the Great American Novel, you shouldn’t worry too much about landing an agent or identifying a publisher at your first (or second, or third) conference. Use the many wonderful resources of each conference to take you to the next level, no matter what level you’re currently at. And that starts with a realistic assessment of where you are in the writing journey.
Brand new? Focus on learning craft. Already on your way to finishing a manuscript? Focus on making connections and learning about platform. Have a polished project nearly in hand? Learn all you can about proposals, one-sheets, and pitching. Ready to go? Identify appropriate agents, editors, and publishers … and make a point of connecting with them.
Do Your Research
No matter where you are on the journey, don’t assume every conference will meet your needs. Make sure the topics covered in workshops and tracks are appropriate, that attending editors, agents, and publishers represent the kind of projects you’re working on, and that the level of teaching is commensurate with your abilities.
For example, going to WCCW’s LIT conference (every other year in February) isn’t the right place if you’re just starting out as a writer. It’s an intermediate/advanced writer’s conference. Likewise, choosing a conference that caters to beginning authors probably isn’t the ideal place for established career writers. And if you’re a straight nonfiction author, going to a conference exclusively focused on fiction might be fun, but also probably a waste of time.
Don’t Try to Do Everything
It’s easy to burn out at a writer’s conference by trying to do everything and be everywhere. After all, you’re paying good money to attend, so surely you should squeeze out every possible drop of value, right? Not exactly. Many conferences have jam-packed days full of multiple options, starting before breakfast and ending late at night. If you do everything possible, you will exhaust yourself before the first day ends.
Instead, make sure you know what is available well before you arrive and prayerfully consider your priority workshops/events/gatherings. Thoughtfully build a schedule based around those priorities, making sure to build in time for rest, time for the relationships you will inevitably form, and, especially, time for appointments with agents, editors, and publishers. Remember: we take in and remember much more when we’re rested and focused than when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed.
If you follow these three tips, your conference experience will be far more beneficial and FAR more enjoyable!
NOTE: Want more information and practical help with preparing for writer’s conferences? Look out for Inspire’s Christian Writers Conference Season Bootcamp, coming in early March 2020. We’ll cover everything from conference etiquette to one-sheets to how to get the most out of your experience, and everything in between. Watch inspirewriters.com for information on the bootcamp.