Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Writers' Conferences

Have you ever been to a writers' conference?

I found the publisher for my first book through a direct contact at a writers' conference. I used to attend the Romance Writers of America Conference every year and I met Tracie Peterson (the former editor of Barbour Publishing's Heartsong Presents line). Although Tracie didn't offer me a contract for my story, when her former colleague, Stephen Reginald, was looking for an African American Christian Fiction author to write a novel for a special 3-in-1 collection for Crossings Book Club, he contacted Tracie for suggestions and she gave him my name. As a result, I landed the contract for Someone For Toni, my first book in the novel collection entitled Promises To Keep that was released back in 2002.

My second romance was sold through the direct contact at a conference hosted by a local Romance Writers of America Chapter (Washington Romance Writers). I met with a Harlequin editor who referred me to Krista Stroever, who was a new editor for Love Inspired at the time. I submitted and made a sale to Love Inspired three weeks later.

I now attend conferences sponsored by American Christian Fiction Writers. I've sold three more romance novels since I've begun fellowshipping with this wonderful group of writers and they have a conference each year that is totally awesome! I recommend attending this event if you're serious about pursuing commercial publication.

Also, at writers' conferences, you have the luxury of forming new friendships with fellow writers and you'll get to meet some best-selling authors that you may have admired for years, and meeting these authors is a treat!

So, have you been to a writers' conference before? Which one did you attend? Was it a positive experience? Tell us about it in the comments section!

~Cecelia Dowdy~


Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Cecelia!
I love going to the ACFW conference. It's the only one I've been to, but I've been to it five times! It's a great place to meet people, to pitch your story to editors and agents, and to learn.

I've made some wonderful friends at the conference, and that is really the greatest thing I've gotten out of it. I've had two agents, and I didn't get either one of them through a conference! I'm also published now, but I didn't get published through a conference, either. But attending the ACFW conferences has been such an incredible growth experience. God really shows up, meets you right where you are spiritually and emotionally, and uses the experience to mold you and teach you.

Plus you make wonderful friends. That's been my experience!

Molly Noble Bull said...

Good article, Cecelia. I love to go to writers' conferences, especially ACFW. If only they were free.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Hey, Melanie! I think it's great that you've found warmth, enthusiasm, and love at the ACFW Conference! Molly, I understand your concerns about the cost. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend ANY writers' conferences in 2011 - not sure if we can handle it financially!

Topazshell Norman said...

I have never gone to one. I'll bet it's really inspiring.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Topazshell, it's really inspiring. You should consider going to one, if it's in your budget. If it's too expensive, then you should try to find a local Christian writers' conference that won't put such a dent into your wallet!

Tracy Krauss said...

I've been to one small local conference but I really need to set aside the funds to attend one of the biggies!

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Tracy, thanks for stopping by Writers' Rest and commenting. Yes, writers' conferences can be expensive, and you must budget for them - especially when they're out of your area and you have to add in air fare to the cost of the conference.

by Pegg Thomas said...

I've attended the Maranatha Writer's Conference in Muskegon, MI, for the last two years. The experience has been incredible and well worth the time, cost, and effort to get there.

I picked Maranatha because it was fairly close to home, small, and I thought it would be a "safe" place to start my writing journey. After all, who would be there but locals... right?!

The first year I didn't know anything or anybody, but when I started looking up just "who" I'd been listening too, talking too, and rubbing elbows with... I was shocked. Last year one of those people was Jerry Jenkins. Yeah, I guess I couldn't have picked a "safer" place to grow my wings!

I know they are expensive, my hubby and I pull our old pop-up camper and stay at the State Park just a couple of miles down the road to make it affordable, but however you can get to one... get to one!

If you don't know where to go, Google Maranatha and Muskegon. I can now highly recommend them. :)

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. said...

Hey Cecelia, I met my new agent, Joyce Hart, at the Philly conference almost three years ago. She gave me such wonderful advice then that helped me focus on what path I needed to take. The ACFW conference last year was awesome. Got to see Joyce again and also made a bunch of new friends. The fellowship is the thing. Thanks for posting!

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Pegg, I met Jerry Jenkins myself at a writers' conference. It was the very first Christian writers' conference that I attended. No, it wasn't ACFW, it was called the Mid-Atlantic Christian Writers Conference. They guy who started that conference no longer does it because he lost money on the last one that he sponsored. I believe the conference was done for 3 years and I attended the first 2 years. I met Jerry at the first Mid-Atlantic Christian Writers Conference. He even signed his book, The Mark, for me. I believe I still have it around this messy house. This was a local conference and I want to encourage all to seek out local conferences if you're working on a strict budget.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Carrie, I'm glad you mentioned the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I attended that conference about four years ago. Great fellowship! They also have a nice lineup of authors, editors, and agents. It's great that you met your agent at this conference. It appears that it's proving to be a long and fruitful relationship. As a matter of fact, I met Joyce for the first time at the MidAtlantic local conference that I mentioned in an earlier comment. She's a nice lady and we talked for a long time.

Bernard said...

Hey Cecelia great discussion. I went to a writer's conference two years ago in Virginia Beach. It was a mixed conference because it had a joint emphasis on writing and self publishing. I loved it though. I may go to one later this year.

Cecelia said...

Hi, Bernard.

Thanks for stopping by Writers' Rest Blog and commenting. I've noticed that most Christian-based conferences, with the exception of ACFW, usually have a portion that focuses on self-publishing. It's a subject that a lot of published and aspiring authors are interested in and that's why it's included in the program. I usually don't attend self-publishing tracks at conferences BUT, that all could change soon! I've noticed that some commercially published authors are getting the rights back to earlier books and self publishing them and making some money doing this! Also, some commercially published authors have some books that publishers are rejecting. They want to get these books into the hands of their readers, so they self publish via e-publishing like on Smashwords and Kindle and Nook. I've heard some are making some good $$$$ and others aren't. I'll admit I've been toying with this idea myself lately.

Bernard said...

I plan on publishing two books this year. And I'm studying how to convert my novel into an e-book. The only problem I'm having in this business of self publishing is distribution. I've been turned down by a few major retailers, but I'm not giving up. I wish you the best Cecelia.