Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Conference Trail by Terry Burns

I can almost hear Willie Nelson singing "On the Road Again."

It's the time of year when we work a lot of conferences. For me, quite a number of years ago I went to a conference as a writer trying to decide how to use my faith in my writing. I took a test as part of the process designed to tell what my spiritual gifts are. They turned out to be writing, music, and the gift of encouragement. I work as an agent and particularly go to as many conferences as I can trying to use that gift of encouragement.

I'm also there to connect with writers and to find good projects that I can help get to market. And to make connections with editors that I can interface with to help make that happen. I work for my clients, but initially it is almost like I work for the editors. I work to try and find out what they are looking for then try to help them find it. I'm like a marriage broker, I find something an editor is looking for, I find a writer that has it, then I arrange an introduction. Sort of like Barbara Streisand did in "Yentl."

People ask me if I make money going to conferences and working. There have been a few that I have actually ended up in the black, but most of the time when expenses are paid I end up breaking even at best and some cost money . . . some a significant amount of money. I try not to do that too much.

I don't like to fly to conferences. Not that I mind flying, but I genuinely hate airports and the mess they have become. When possible I drive it, far less stress, and the trip itself can be nice particularly when Saundra goes with me. We have changed to a small class B van RV for a road car. It's small so it doesn't get bad gas mileage and it can save a couple of hotel stays on the road which offsets extra gas cost. It provides a nice break and thanks to technology I can still be online while on the road getting my work done while Saundra drives. It's like an office on wheels. At least we'll be back to doing that when she gets her cast off (she fell and broke her arm).

I really believe if a writer is serious about their writing they need to try to get to a conference or two each year to network with agents, editors, and other writers. That's a primary place where things can be learned to improve their writing skills and to start learning to increase their visibility necessary for book sales. If you are doing that perhaps we will meet out on the road.

I'll be the guy in the big hat.


Digging for Pearls said...

Praying for you as you travel, Terry.

I've been praying about attending a conference myself later this year. I've been seeking God for an answer since funds are tight. Your words were an encouragement.

Thank you.

JoyAveryMelville said...

Praying about whether or not it's good stewardship to attend the ACFW INDIANAPOLIS conference and I appreciated this post, Terry. Praying you'll be safe and the trips will be enjoyable for both you and Saundra - blessings - might just see you on the road or in a lobby. ';D
Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

I am just beginning a book. As it come to fruition, I will explore the world of conferences. It seems to be a tense, exciting opportunity.