Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Writers Conference Goals by Andy Scheer

I'm not counting on finding a great writer at the conference this week.

Don't get me wrong. I hope to find a great writer. And it won't surprise me if I do. It's happened at each of the conferences I've attended since joining the Hartline team. And that's generally been my experience since I began attending Christian writers conferences back in the late 1980s.

But finding writers is not my main reason to attend.

I'm going primarily because of the people—the unique opportunity at a writers conference to meet not only writers, but writing professionals: veteran writers, acquisitions editors, and agents. These are the people who've taught me much of what I know about writing and publishing.

And after more than thirty years in the publishing world, I still have a lot to learn.

At least I have an excuse: I'm aiming at an amazingly diverse, constantly changing target. And that change is coming faster than ever. If I hope to stay on track, I need all the information and advice I can get. So anytime conferees aren't trying to learn from me, I'll be trying to learn things from the other faculty members—and also from the conferees.

You never know when the person you meet at a conference will just happen to have information you really need. Like the two writers waiting in the lunch line, talking about their works in progress. One was saying she had a problem with her suspense novel, and she really needed a source in the FBI she could ask about a procedure. It turned out she was talking to the wife of an FBI agent.

I remember at my first conference meeting Les Stobbe, who was then with Here's Life Publishers. That was twenty-five years ago. Through various career moves we're still friends, and we continue to keep in touch about what's happening in the world of publishing.

In some ways, it's a small world. If you check the faculty roster of conferences held throughout the year, you'll see many of the same names. So for me, each conference presents an opportunity to renew old friendships, and cultivate new ones.

And if the rapport I develop with an acquisitions editor just happens to pave the way for my clients' proposals, I'm sure those clients won't begrudge me the time. Even if it's a future client I'll be meeting for the first time at that conference


Cheryl said...
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Cheryl said...

I like this post. I attend for the people too. I don't have a tremendous amount of support at home, so I depend upon it from my online connections and those I meet at conferences. It definitely encourages me when I am able to talk with other writers.

When I attended WriteAngles last fall, I knew the picture book manuscript I was pitching wasn't my strongest; but the best piece was with another agent and so I pitched my second best. The agent didn't ask for it, but she provided information on how I could improve it. That was worth attending.

Thanks for a wonderful post.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Absolutely, Andy. Writer's conferences are the place to meet people, get ideas, make friends, network for future projects ... and be encouraged. Some of my best investments have been registration fees for conferences.

Robin Bayne said...

I have met many great people at conferences over the years. Just being around other writers is great-- we all get it. We all love books--paper and electronic. The atmosphere is always wonderful.

Dr Mari said...

So what are some of the best Christian writer's conferences out there? Thanks!

Andy Scheer said...

What conferences are best? That's highly subjective, with factors including the location, time of year, topics, faculty, and expense. Some very good major conferences in the US still coming up this year, in rough chronological order, include Mount Hermon, Blue Ridge, Colorado, Write to Publish, Oregon, Philadelphia, and Ghost Ranch. And for fiction writers only, there's the ACFW conference. Plus there are some excellent smaller and shorter conferences--to name just a few: San Diego, Kansas City/HACWN, and Indianapolis.