What, Rachel? Don’t come to the conference? Why? What are you saying? Hmm? You want all of the editors and agents to yourself? Sit next to Angie Hunt during dinner? Win all the awards? (yeah, right… ) Sit in the first row for Mark Mynheir’s police procedure continuing session?
No! Please, I’m soooo over all of those things. I mean, if Angie Hunt asks me to dine with her, I won’t say not, but I’m not going to fight anyone for the chair next to her. Though, she is pretty amazing… hmm. I’ll have to rethink that one and get back to you.
Nevertheless, I selected my blog title for a reason. Not everyone is ready for conference. It doesn’t mean you can’t become ready, but there are a few mindsets that can make a conference difficult for people.
Here’s my list, and mine alone, of why you might not be ready for conference.
Do not come if you think you have the greatest manuscript, God-breathed and you want to pitch it as if an editor or agent would be crazy to turn it down.
Do not come if you think your manuscript is above change.
Do not come if you think you can surely write better than Rachel Hauck (I’m sure you can, but whatever…) or Susan May Warren or any one of “those Heartsong, Love Inspired authors.”
Do not come if you’re not prepared. Conference is an expensive way to just to hang out. Even if you’re not sure you want to write fiction, come prepared to learn. Meet with an editor and discuss a story idea. Come up with something! If you can’t meet with an editor or agent, sit with an author you like to read during dinner and discuss the world of publishing.
Do not come if you want to shop at Mall of America more than attend workshops.
Do not come if your heart is riding on your sleeve. You will be snubbed, ignored, walked away from, left sitting by yourself, feel alone among the crowd, and cry in your room at night. But you’ve got to get back up, get out there, and say, “Lord, you and me, let’s do it.”
Do not come if you’re expecting people to cater to you. It won’t happen. ACFW does an amazing job of welcoming everyone by providing a mentorship program for first time attendees, but ultimately, YOU are responsible for your conference success. Be prepared to walk up to strangers and say, “Hi, I’m so-n-so.”
Do not come if you’re not willing to hear from a critique session, or editor/agent appointment that your story needs work. Ask what you can do to fix it. Ask what they’d like to see in a story like yours. Think outside the box. My agent told me she loved ACFW’s conference last year, but felt so many of the proposals and pitches were the same. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little, okay?
Do not come with attitude, or expectation of being rejected or offended. I’ve seen this so many times. People are timid, scared, afraid, almost looking for a reason to be offended and by their very ‘tude, cause people to reject them. I know the conference can be hard, overwhelming and intimidating, but really go to the Lord if you struggle with rejection or social phobias and ask Him to make a way for you. He will.
Most of you’ve heard my testimony about the 2003 conference. I was the coordinator along with the amazing and hard-working Allison Wilson and I knew I’d be way too busy to connect with people. I also knew I had the talent of picking the wrong people to smooze. Yes, there is smoozing at a conference. It’s fine! Well and good! But I always picked people who just aren’t drawn to me. Go figger. So I said Lord, you’re my editor, agent and promoter. If you want to connect me with someone, you do it. I’ll mess it up if I try.” Enter Colleen Coble in my life, God’s gift to so many of us!
Even now, published with a great agent and fabulous editor, that is still my prayer. God, you are my editor, agent and promoter!
Come to the conference with expectation. See what God will do. Enjoy the worship times, the keynote speeches, the workshops and fellowship during dinner. Spend a half hour in the prayer room. Go to the late night chats.
Do NOT come to the conference expecting to sleep – oh no my friends – no sleeping!
Come, if God has put it on your heart. Come if you’re ready to learn and network. Come if you’re ready to have fun. And of course, come if you want to meet me cause I’m a hoot!
See you in September!