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Counting Reasons to Attend Writers’ Conferences

By Becky Jacoby

Five years ago, if anyone would have asked me about attending a writers’ conference, I would have advised against it. Even though I dreamed bigger dreams and was working steadily, I thought, “Why spend money to learn things already available in a plethora of online resources or books? Just do some homework, keep working on writing skills and persevere.”

How naïve and narrow-minded I was. I finally relinquished my stubbornness and grumpy go-it-alone attitude and got smart. Since I changed my mind, I have attended four conferences and hope to attend more.

5 Reasons to attend writers’ conferences (especially Christian ones):

1. Writers’ conferences are about a lot more than information, homework and perseverance. At conferences, you learn interactively from professionals in the industry. These devoted individuals share valuable, experiential knowledge, offer guidance and answer questions—none of which you can glean from a search engine or the most comprehensive how-to book on writing.

2. The publishing business is built by people, and people are meant to connect with each other. If you want to work in the publishing business, it helps to meet and get to know these professionals face-to-face. It is much nicer (and usually more favorable) to relate to someone with whom you made a memorable impression. Someone who remains two-dimensional appears less appealing.

3. Like attracts like. People who attend writers’ conferences share similar goals. Friendships cemented at conferences with like-minded people can become life-long and benefit you in unimaginable ways. Who better than a writer friend to encourage you, offer an honest opinion, refer you to a contact or invite you to contribute to a project?

4. Not all news is published. Things change in the publishing business at lightning speed. News you hear from industry professionals at a conference tends to be current and may be particularly important if your goal is to submit a manuscript or a proposal. A fifteen-minute appointment with a prospective editor or agent might save you weeks in rewriting, or time in submitting to someone whose line of business or brand does not suit your project.

5. Perception is not indicative of fit. While it is natural to form an impression from an agent’s or editor’s biography, it is not the same as conversing with the real person. While some people just click, others, though polite, react more like oil and vinegar. Sure, we celebrate our differences, but each of us has a preference with whom we might choose to work. And so might an agent or editor.

Attending a writer’s conference can be expensive. Several Christian writers’ conferences offer scholarships. But whether you are a newbie or a veteran writer, the benefits of attending are priceless.

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Becky Jacoby writes for many online and print publications. She is completing her first suspense novel and two devotionals. She resides in coastal North Carolina with hubby Bob and two rescued dogs. Learn more at www.beckyjacoby.com

Editor’s Note: For more information about attending ACFW’s national conference in Dallas, Texas, September 20-23, please visit www.acfw.com/conference.

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One Response to Counting Reasons to Attend Writers’ Conferences

  1. Becky,
    Excellent advice. I would add that it’s important to deliberately put yourself in the way of people who can help you. I wouldn’t have my contract if I had not attended the Mt. Hermon Conference for five years first.