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I Have to Stay Home from the Conference

By Tamela Hancock Murray

(Editor’s Note: ACFW congratulates Tamela on being named the 2017 Agent of the Year at our recent conference).

As I mentioned in several recent posts about conferences, sometimes your best decision is to stay home. For example, if you missed ACFW’s conference last week, not to worry! You can become a traditionally published author, or maintain your momentum, without attending a conference. Although I started writing books many years ago, I never went to a conference as an author. The first one I attended was an ACFW (then ACRW) conference, as a literary agent. This was years after I’d become a bestselling, award-winning author. And I didn’t have the advantages of email or social media, so your chances of succeeding with a similar path are even greater. Here are a few steps you might consider when attending conferences won’t work for you:

  • Join professional organizations such as RWA https://www.rwa.org/ and ACFW https://www.acfw.com/.  I am a member of both. Many other excellent professional organizations specialize in specific types of fiction and nonfiction. Do your research and see which ones are a good fit for you. Look for those that offer lots of ways for authors and other publishing professionals to interact online so you can minimize travel.
  • Follow agent blogs such as this one to learn about agencies and individual agents. When you interact with agents through their blogs, they become familiar with you and your name will mean something to them when you submit your proposal.
  • Interact with others on social media to forge and strengthen relationships. While professional friendship is your top priority, these relationships can grow and you may find that you feel comfortable offering published authors’ names for possible endorsement.
  • Find a mentor through your professional organizations. Many offer specific mentoring programs, meaning those who offer to be mentors expect to spend time nurturing new talent. This is a more linear and probably easier path than making friends with an author and hoping that author will have time to mentor
  • Join local chapters of your national organizations. Often those are much more low key and intimate than the national chapters can be. Some offer small conferences that might be realistic for you to attend. But even if you can’t, you can still make and keep connections.

Your turn:

What tips can you offer the author who can’t attend a conference?

What professional organizations do you recommend?

What is your favorite way to interact with publishing professionals online?

Tamela Hancock Murray is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency (www.stevelaube.com). Previously, her books appeared on bestseller lists and she won an RWA Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Tamela and her husband are the parents of two lovely daughters. Find Tamela on Facebook and Twitter @Tamela_Murray.

(Reprinted from the Steve Laube Agency blog dated July 6, 2017)

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9 Responses to I Have to Stay Home from the Conference

  1. Congratulations, Tamela, for winning 2017 Agent of the Year! I love all of these tips for still learning and growing as an author without attending ACFW.

    I like interacting with publishing professionals online by being a part of street teams for published authors as well as commenting on blogs. It’s fun to join in the excitement of a freshly published book!

  2. Barbara Fox says:

    Hi Tamara,
    Congratulations for you big win as Agent of the year. I enjoyed watching your acceptance via Youtube.

    I’ve done the ACFW At-Home Conference for two years and it’s another way to continuing the learning process for a writer’s journey.

    My favorite ways to stay connected are through all of the avenues in ACFW and through authors’s and agents’s blogs. I especially enjoy Seekerville. They originally pointed me to ACFW and they are a great source for direction.

    Thanks for you tips about staying connected.

  3. Tamela, thank you for your excellent post! In answer to your question, another option for an author who cannot attend a conference is to attend webinars. I have learned a lot from attending webinars on various aspects of writing and publishing. Most webinars also offer the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers.

    Many writers’ organizations offer webinars as part of their membership benefits. Also, many best-selling authors have produced their own webinars. I’m thinking particularly of our very own Susan May Warren’s Novel Academy (Novel.Academy) that provides excellent training in writing fiction. I’ve studied with Susan and learned a great deal about the elements of fiction-writing. Another excellent course is K.M. Weiland’s fiction-writing course available online at https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com.

    Still another option is the correspondence course. Writers can take correspondence courses via email and the Internet. For example, I offer a free, five-day email mini-course for beginning writers of fiction. It’s called “How to Write a Story” and provides subscribers basic tools to begin writing their own stories ( http://bit.ly/2hxLou9 ).

    Thanks again for your excellent suggestions, Tamela! I appreciate your taking the time to share your expertise with us.

    Many thanks and blessings!

    MaryAnn
    _________________________________________
    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    Author & Writing Coach
    http://www.maryanndiorio.com

  4. Great suggestions, Tamela! ACFW, RWA, and I like BRMCWC, too! When I wasn’t able to attend conferences I joined online conferences and teaching sessions. Most of these conferences hold some powerful teaching sessions via email for their members. It’s still a great way to be connected.

  5. Tamela Hancock Murray says:

    Thank you for the congrats, Barbara!

  6. Tamela Hancock Murray says:

    Barbara Fox, thank you for the suggestion about the ACFW at home conference!

  7. Tamela Hancock Murray says:

    Oh, and for your congrats as well! I thought I was going to have to ask someone else to read my speech because I was so choked up!

  8. Tamela Hancock Murray says:

    MaryAnn, thank you for the link and suggestions. I hope authors will see and heed!

  9. Tamela Hancock Murray says:

    Loretta, you are so right!