5 Ways Writers Profit from a Conference
|I know it is June. I took this photo on May 19, 2017 in Estes Park, Colorado at a conference.|
For many years I’ve been attending conferences. My time at the recent Colorado Christian Writers Conference was unusual because in mid-May, we had over three feet of snow. It snowed for almost two solid days after we arrived at the event. Some faculty members who arrived late were stuck at the Denver airport. The snow made for an unusual and memorable event.
Some people wonder how I’ve published such a range of magazine articles and books. I’m not the best writer in the room but I am one of the most consistent. If I pitch an idea and an editor says, sounds good, send it to me. I make a little note, then go home, write the article or book and send it. Yes you have to write what the editor wants but overall I’ve found such a simple strategy works.
Just attending conferences is a financial investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways to profit from a conference.
First, listen for opportunities then take action. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher will be doing. I’ve written Bible studies in the past and enjoy this type of writing. I noticed the opportunity so I made a point to email this editor and affirm in writing my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said at the right time he would be in touch. This type of follow-up work leads to additional writing opportunities. You have to be listening for them.
Another editor at the conference has worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as a new writing credit. I’ve emailed the editor and we are corresponding about some ideas which I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication. You have to listen for the opportunities, then take action.
Advanced preparation before the event is a second way to profit from the conference. Study the faculty and see what they publish and then write pitches and book proposals. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information easily available online. Several writers at the recent conference brought flash drives with the electronic copy of their material. I appreciated the effort of these writers and it moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process. In one case I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board and I’m hoping to get a contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.
Most conferences have a freebie table with magazines and writers guidelines. These publications are looking for freelance writers. You have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines then make your pitch or query or follow-through. This consistent action of follow-up is the third way to profit from a conference. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.
At the conference, I met many people and came home with a large stack of business cards. I’ve been following up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal and/or manuscript. Yet few of them have reached out to me—and this type of situation is typical from my experience. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention and you will get publishing opportunities. This is the fourth way to profit from a conference.
One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing world. The fifth method to profit from a conference is to take action on these new skills. Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences.
It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply it to their writing life. At the Colorado event, I taught an early bird workshop about Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (my book). I worked hard on my handout which had many additional resources and links for those who used it. Here’s my handout for your reference: http://terrylinks.com/js I encourage you to download the handout, print it and follow the extra material to profit for your own writing life. I'll be at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference next month and other events this year. Check my speaking schedule link to connect and I hope our paths cross later this year and I can help you one on one.
As writers we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge growth area if you take action and follow-up.
Have I given you some ideas? If so, let me know in the comments below.
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