Wednesday, September 23, 2009

After the Conference Ends: “What to do when the circus leaves town.”

Before I get into my blog let me take a moment to brag on one of my clients, Susan Miura, shown in the picture on the left. Susan won the runner up for the Genesis Award given by the American Christian Fiction Writers for the best new writer in the young adult genre. Congratulations to her.

And since the ACFW Conference just ended I'm going to turn my blog over today to another Client, Curt Iles, for a blog on how to get the most from the money that was spent on the conference with proper follow up:

After the Conference Ends: “What to do when the circus leaves town.”

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over.
They say all things must come to an end.”
-Willie Nelson

I’ve read many excellent articles about preparing for, and attending, writing conferences. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one on what to do after the conference.

What a writer does after the conference may be more important than what happened during the event. As an avid conferencegoer, I’ve thought about several items essential in the hours and days after the conference ends. Here are some thoughts:

1. Plan some time for introspection and reflection. Leaving a conference means returning to our busy worlds at home: family, phone calls, jobs, and responsibilities. If we don’t have a plan for both written and mental reflection, many of the things we’ve learned will fall through the cracks.
If you’re flying, take time to journal, set goals, and during your waiting and flight time.

2. Take time to follow up on the relationships you’ve started and continued. Being a professional writer involves building relationships with other authors, and industry doorkeepers (agents, and editors.) As soon as the conference ends is the perfect time to solidify these friendships by:

A. Follow-up up with emails or notes to all of the business cards you’ve collected. A good plan is to use a glue stick to attach the cards in your journal or event program. Jot notes of details about this person. Follow up with an E-mail, Facebook invitation, or Tweet. Adjust your email signature where it includes a small photo of you. This will allow recipients to remember who you are.

B. Building relationships is a privilege of being a Christian writer. It’s also one of our responsibilities. Networking is a key ingredient in building a writing career.

C. Don’t forget the power of a personal note. E-mail is great, but a hand-written personal note is one of the most cherished things you can send a speaker, conference host, or award winner.
Read my article, “The Power of a Personal Note.”

D. Send a thank you email/note even to professionals who may have turned down your proposal. This shows Christian grace and class and is the sign of a professional writer. Never burn a bridge on the road of life, especially with writing doorkeepers. As my mother reminded me, “You can’t have too many friends.”

3. Make time to follow up on all requests for proposals, book ideas, and requested information. I’ve heard agents and editors relate how many times they never receive requested materials from authors. Don’t miss the chance to walk through the door of opportunity.

4. Set written goals to send requested materials. A common disease after conferences is “WritersDoubtSyndrome.” You’ve gone to the conference with that next bestseller firmly in hand. After sitting in seminars on the craft of writing and receiving critique feedback, you feel the need to start all over on your novel or project.

Even if a doorkeeper requested a sample or proposal, the tendency is to rework it until we feel it is editor worthy. This is good unless it leads to never sending until we think it “is perfect.” Enlist the support of fellow writers and friends who will hold you accountable to update and submit your work by a certain date.

5. Make a folder of materials you brought home from the conference. If you attend the conference next year, it will be a valuable resource.

6. In this folder prepare a “L.B./N.T.” file. In a ministry I formerly led, we had a “Liked Best/Next Time” form. After each event, every employee wrote what they liked best about the event as well as what we’d do differently next time. It was an invaluable aid in planning and preparing for the future.

Going to a writing conference is a thrill and privilege for all authors. Our investment of time, travel, and money is worth it. By developing your own follow through plan after the conference, it will result in the greater benefits.

Copyright 2009 by Creekbank Stories Curt Iles
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Jeanette Levellie said...

Wow. You are right; I've not read any "after the conference" articles. This was very helpful, espcially the item about taking time for introspection.

Thanks for the wisdom,

Audience of ONE

Lisa Buffaloe said...

Very helpful information. Thank you, Curt. I enjoyed getting to visit with you at conference.

Thank you, Terry for posting Curt's article.

Anonymous said...

"Even if a doorkeeper requested a sample or proposal, the tendency is to rework it until we feel it is editor worthy. This is good unless it leads to never sending until we think it 'is perfect.'"
Hahaha. That's exactly how I've been feeling, but I just need to kick butt and get this sent in.
It was great to meet you at the conference. Hopefully we'll meet up in other places.

LynnRush said...

Great post. This is spot on. Thanks!

Jessica said...

Very helpful, since I just returned. :-) Thank you!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

This is great advice. I'm so thankful I stopped over here. I love the Liked Best/Next Time pointer. So true, to make the next conference even better, we really do need to ponder this when things are fresh in our mind.

Carrie Turansky said...

This is great advice! Thanks so much. That ought to keep me busy for quite a while!

Candee Fick said...

Thanks for passing along such great advice. Coming home with a brain crammed full of information and a to-do list a mile long, it helps to take a step back, pray, and prioritize.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

You rock Curt! Good job and in the right venue :-)