Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Conferencing--Now or Later

Howdy, BGs. A quick post before I hit bed, only to rise all too early tomorrow (that is Wednesday, as you're reading this) to catch a flight to Nashville. (I must go a day early in order to be there for board meetings starting Thursday morning.)

Some of you will be at the conference. Others won't--but plan on going to a conference at some other time. Here are a few thoughts about conference life:

1. The conference is about you. If you're a regular paying conference attendee, you're the person the conference is geared for. You are the important one. Not the teachers, nor the editors or agents.

2. The editors and agents do not walk on water. They are people just like you. No need to be intimidated or in awe. They wake up every morning and ask God to please help them through their day's work, which mostly likely is overwhelming and often more than they can handle. Therefore . . .

3. You really don't need to be scared as you meet with an editor/agent. Your meeting will not make or break your career. Yes, we'd all love to have that meeting where the editor falls at our feet and demands 5 of our manuscripts. Or at least have the editor say he/she wants to see your manuscript. If this happens, be no more than cautiously excited. You've managed only step one of a very long process toward getting a contract. If the editor isn't interested in your stuff, this should not be the end of the conference for you. There are plenty of other important things to get from a conference. Such as . . .

4. Make friends with published authors. These folks are your future network. They can give you pointers on your writing and introduce you to people (including editors and agents). Hanging out with the authors can be as important as hanging out with the editors.

5. DON'T be defensive about your writing. If you meet with an editor/agent and that person tells you he/she can't take your manuscript, and points out a few writing reasons why--listen.

6. Take time to pray each day and keep focused. God's got your career in His hands. Do you trust Him with it or not? If you trust Him with it--what's there to be anxious about?

7. Leave room in your suitcase to take home books. Most authors at conferences discount their books. (My personal policy is to make no money on my books, but sell them at my cost. I even lug the things in a suitcase rather than ship them, just to keep the cost down.) A conference is a great place to not only save money on a book, but get one signed as a Christmas present for Aunt Maddie, or a Father's Day gift for Dad. Not to mention a gift for your spouse. If you think ahead regarding gifts you'll have to buy anyway, you could save some money in the gift-giving process. Or you might have a friend who'd love to have a signed book from so-and-so author, and give you the money to pay for it.

8. The conference is not about you. This is not antithetical to #1. It's a way to help you survive any stress you might have. Look--if you're worried about meeting with an editor, so is someone else. If you feel out of place--so does someone else. If you feel too fat, too tall, too short, too skinny, too anything--so do a lot of other people. If you're hurting over personal issues, so are many other people. Pay attention to others. What can you do for that person who looks a little lost? Who can you reach out to?

Perhaps you've noticed a common thread among these points. They're all directed at helping you keep calm, avoid the jitters, and keep things in perspective.

Blessings, BGs. I'll post tomorrow from Nashville.


C.J. Darlington said...

Thanks, Brandilyn. Hope you're able to have some fun time at the conference, too! Looking forward to the updates since I can't be there myself.

Gina Holmes said...

Ain't that the truth! The best things to come out of previous conferences for me haven't been the contracts, (what contracts?) but meeting other writers who have become friends, mentors (and mentees), honing my craft (Ron Benray gave a class that turned a light bulb on for me and my writing will never be the same!) and having fun.

And the editors, well, I'm fairly certain they're more afraid of me then I am of them. (I get so excited about my demoniac stories that I foam at the mouth making others wonder if maybe they aren't based on my own experience :)
Can't wait to meet you.

ValMarie said...

Thanks for the pointers, Brandilyn. I couldn't go to the conference this September, but I'm hoping to go to Mt. Hermon in the Spring.

Hope everyone has a great time at the conference. :-)

cara putman said...


I'll be praying for you and the others at the board meetings tomorrow as I drive down to Nashville. Thanks for the tips. I'm so excited I think my husband is ready to fling me into the car and send me on my way just so I won't tell him how excited I am every 15 minutes. Looking forward to meeting you Thursday night at the late night chat. Safe travels!

Janet Sketchley said...

I saw a big spider skittering across the sidewalk this morning, and I thought of BC and the BG's heading for the conference. Hope you all have a wonderful and valuable time. I'm on the east coast of Canada, and it's a long, expensive commute to Nashville. Some year, I hope to get there. Right now, I'm working on getting to Write! Canada, our largest Christian writers' conference, for next June. Still not cheap, but hopefully a manageable investment. Thanks again for this blog, Brandilyn. It's an extra blessing to those of us in obscure places.