Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lessons Learned from My First Writer's Conference - Part 2

In last Wednesday's post, Lessons Learned From My First Writer's Conference - Part 1,  I shared with you that the publishing industry is totally subjective, something that you may or may not have already known.

I'd also like to share is that it is really helpful to decide what exactly you want to get out of the conference before you go. Are you wanting to learn more about the craft of writing? Do you want to learn more about the publishing process? Do you want to gain a better understanding of the legal aspects of the business? Do you need to be inspired by other authors who have already established themselves?

I was completely torn when it came to the course offerings. There were one or two classes that I KNEW I wanted to take, so I did. As for the others, I was a little bit lost. I made the mistake of not really honing in on what I wanted to learn from the courses they offered, so I don't think I truly maximized my experience in that way.

I did, however, take advantage of the opportunity to network with other writers, which I feel like was the most rewarding experience. The writing community is incredibly supportive (which I already know because of so many of YOU!), but I was really struck by the unspoken bond between myself and all of these complete strangers. I met a few people (the lovely Angie Mizzell, for one) who I know are going to do great things, and it totally energized me.

I also took it upon myself to get in front of agents and editors that I really wanted to meet. On that note, I have to admit that my first "meeting" with the lovely Rachelle Gardner the bathroom! Now, I know you've heard the horror stories from agents about being pitched to in the bathroom, and I was WELL AWARE of that major faux pas, I assure you. I did not do that. What I did, however, was giggle when she came out of the stall...purely from the irony of it all. I'm sure she thought, "Who is this weird chick laughing to herself in the bathroom?" But I actually made a joke of it and told her I was absolutely NOT pitching to her in the bathroom. And you know what? She laughed. Who knew? AGENTS ARE REAL PEOPLE TOO!

Have you been to a conference? What lesson did you learn? Were you able to get what you wanted out of it?


  1. That's so funny! It made me laugh. I like to use humor when I'm uncomfortable and/or nervous, which I did when I first met Rachelle, as well. I'll have to share the story some time.

  2. Same thing happened to me with a different agent in the elevator. I had to laugh as I kept thinking to myself elevator pitch, elevator pitch. I refrained from pitching.

    I, however, also did not laugh out loud. Good for you!

    That is yet another reason why I must meet you in person. Man, we'd be trouble! ;)

    ~ Wendy

  3. Beth, you're so right about this. Several times I had to have a talk with myself about what I actually came for. It was a mix of learning, getting feedback and taking advantage of the opportunities to meet certain people. And meeting you was not by chance, I'm sure. When I think about how many split second decisions I made that led me to sit beside you... I think it was part of a divine plan.

  4. That is hilarious with your bathroom experience with Rachelle. I've been to two conferences now - both ACFW - and like you, I'm struck by how supportive and awesome the majority of writers are!

  5. oh my goodness that is hilarious and good for you for holding back.
    Considering how easily i go star crazy I am not sure I will be able to keep my composure if I ever meet Kristin Nelson or someone else like that.

  6. Lol--I had a bathroom experience at the conference I just went to, too. I think I giggled a little bit as well but it actually turned out to be an amazing thing.

    I think it's a great idea to know what you want from a conference before you go. It's hard for the very first one because you don't know what to expect but it helps to have an idea what classes and courses and networking will help you learn and grow.

  7. I had a bit of an epiphany in a plotting class. Now I'm working on my plot.