700 writers in the same hotel. Being surrounded by others who "get" the voices in your head--paradise! Not to mention I will get to hug and hang out with some of my most favorite people.
This year will mark my 7th ACFW conference. So I'm definitely not a newbie, but I have made my fair share of mistakes, namely putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Too many times writers arrive at a conference with their baggage and expectations and leave with dirty laundry and discouragement.
If you're planning to attend ACFW next week, keep reading for some tips to help you battle that discouragement. If you're not attending, but may attend in the future, still read anyway.
- You are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone. Whether it's your first conference or seventh, it's easy to feel alone in a sea of people, especially if you hear buzz words like contract, representation, finalist. If you're feeling like those are foreign words in your career, come to the My Book Therapy table. We will encourage you, hug you, pray with you--whatever it takes to help you embrace this portion of your writing journey with a smile.
- Editors and Agents are Human. Yes, it's true. They may appear to be superhuman, but they need to eat and sleep like you and me. They become exhausted from listening to pitches, having to be "on" and participating in workshops. But, you know what? They enjoy meeting writers, especially hearing writers' stories. So when you sit down to pitch, take a deep breath and remember, they are human just like you. Dazzle them with your great pitch and let God do the rest.
- Harness Your Expectations. It's great to attend a conference with goals, but ensure they're reasonable goals. Arrive at the conference with no expectations, so you're surprised and blessed when God reveals himself in mighty ways. Having unrealistic expectations leads to disappointment. You will not sell your book at the conference. You will not sign with an agent at the conference. If you don't get the appointment you wanted, there are other reasonable ways of meeting a favored editor or agent. Also, be open to God's leading and unexpected open doors. Maybe there's a reason you didn't get scheduled with that editor or agent.
- Be a Blessing. I'm guest blogging at Michelle Lim's Thoughts on Plot blog today, and I'm talking about how to Be a Blessing. No matter if this is your first conference or not, you can be a blessing to someone else. Think of others before yourself. Be Jesus in the skin. Model His grace. Let His light shine through you. Be quick to smile. Offer to pray with someone who may need to hear a kind word. Honor God with your words and actions.
Be sure to check out My Book Therapy's The Truth About Conferences. You will find wonderful tips to help you to have a successful writers conference. Written by the MBT Staff, this book covers everything to budgeting for a conference to what to do after the conference.
Your Turn: If you've attended a conference in the past, what words of wisdom do you have to offer?