The Great Scare – 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Writer’s Conference

My first big writer’s conference was the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Minneapolis. Talk about terrified. There were so many people. So much I didn’t know.

Now, I have been to several writer’s conferences and looking back there are a few things I know now that I wish I would have known back then.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Writer’s Conference:

1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself the first time. A lot of writers think they will come away with a contract offer, or at least an invitation to send their work.

Truth: Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t. It may be that your work isn’t ready. It might not be a good fit for editors/agents. Maybe you need to practice your pitching skills more.

2. Whatever happens, be happy with the part of the journey you are in. Don’t despise the different stages of the journey. All have their ups and downs. Take each moment to learn the lessons of your part of the journey.

3. Unless you plan to publish with a house that doesn’t require an agent, focus your pitching efforts on agents. This is more my personal opinion, but I wanted an agent. Still, I signed up to meet with editors as well. I think I could have spent my time more efficiently.

4. Appointments are cancelled and sometimes you can slot into that spot. If you didn’t get the appointments you were hoping to get, check in with the appointment desk to see if there were any cancellations. (This is specific to ACFW.)

5. Buy the Conference CDs to get the most out of the whole experience. Sometimes appointments are scheduled at a time when you would want to be in a class. Instructors are used to this, but if you purchase the CDs you won’t feel that you are missing anything. (Also, nerves and exhaustion often get in the way of concentration.)

If you are new to the conference scene, what questions do you have? If you are more experienced, what advice would you give?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “The Great Scare – 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Writer’s Conference

  1. Gabrielle Meyer says:

    Hey, Michelle! I’ve been searching the internet to see if there is a check list for what to bring to a writers conference, specifically the ACFW. These are some of the things I know I’m bringing: pitch sheet, book synopsis, first three chapters, business cards, gala event outfit, business casual clothing, camera, pens, pad of paper, three ring binder, bag…am I missing something that’s glaringly obvious? I don’t want to get down to Dallas and realize I’ve forgotten something important! Maybe you’ve posted a list like this – I’m not sure, but I’d really appreciate any help/advice you have!

    • Michelle Lim says:

      You’ve got the most important things listed here. I will be doing a post on what to pack next week. Another great resource is “The Truth About Conferences” Book by the MBT Staff. The trailer is in the left column of my blog. (The download is $3.99.) There is a chapter in there on what to bring to Conference. Also, I think it was yesterday at the Ponderers blog Beth did an article on what to pack.

  2. This is my 11th conference, some big, some small. The one thing I wish I’d known in the first 9 conferences–my writing career is in God’s hands. I can strive all I want to(and did), but to no avail. Let me take that back. Sometimes He means those editor and agent appointments to be opportunities to network and make friends. Over the years, I’ve made friends with at least 3 editors and a couple of agents…And in His timing, one of the agents signed me. Now for His timing on the editor.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      That is so true, Pat. I remember thinking the weight of being published was on my own shoulders at the first few conferences. Really, the preparation is my responsibility and God is in charge of the rest.

  3. I love the first one. I always put pressure on myself, and I’m anxious to do well…but I realize that my book might not be a good fit for the people I meet with, and it might not be ready.

    I’ve actually heard the opposite advice on #3. I’ve heard you should pitch to editors, because if they become interested in your work, it’s easier to get an agent then. I definitely want an agent, so I am just praying that God works it all out. 😛

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Well, #3 is my own opinion. I’m sure that I am not the last word on it. I’m glad you are trusting God to work it out. That is really the best. He knows better than anyone else the right path for your story.

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