Sunday Style: Make the Most of A Conference

1159418_key_x_from_vintage_typewriterThe first session I attended at the Write On The Sound (WOTS) Writer’s Conference was about how to make the most of a writing conference. I thought it was a good choice for me as this conference was indeed my first. I was surprised by how helpful the session was;  I went in expecting it to be sort of boring — this is where you find the restrooms, please be sure to wear your name tag, etc. But it was none of that. I came away with good perspective and a few tools, a few of which I’d like to share in this Sunday Style installment.

Create a mission statement for the conference

The session started with the two presenters, Jennifer McCord and Roberta Trahen, asking us to write our personal mission statements for the conference. Working in a corporation with a powerful mission statement has made me a believer in mission statements. I’ve seen how they can work, but I don’t often think of making or creating them for myself, especially not in the setting of a conference. But I found this exercise very valuable. My statement?

I’m attending this conference to gather tools for my writing toolkit — fiction tips, non fiction and publishing insights and to connect with others in this writing community.

It’s a pretty simple statement. But, at the end of the two-day conference I looked at what I’d set out to do and it felt great to be able to say that I’d achieved my mission for the conference.

Be open to unexpected opportunities

Jennifer and Roberta couldn’t have been more right when they reminded me and the other 60 or so folks in the room to be open to unexpected opportunities. One of the best opportunities for me was meeting author Jennie Shortridge at the conference. I sat next to her in a session and then was a participant in a session she facilitated about asking questions and how that relates to writing. I immediately enjoyed connecting with Jennie and when I came home, I sent an e-mail and asked if I could host her at Motherlogue during her tour for her most recent novel, When She Flew.  She agreed! I’m so glad that I was open to the opportunity to connect.

Misconceptions About Publishing

In our session Roberta and Jennifer provided us with a list of ten misconceptions about publishing. I found all of them valuable, but picked three to share because they really resonated with me and will continue to serve as good reminders as I go forth in this writing journey:

  1. A rejection letter means it’s all over. (No it doesn’t, they reminded us that a rejection letter provides an opportunity to examine deeper and to look for the keys in the letter that might help you unlock something!)
  2. Publication = sales. (This is another reminder about the importance of having a platform and being able to market your writing.  It’s sad, but it’s true…just because your book gets published doesn’t mean it will sell.)
  3. She said yes, but she was just being polite. (Jennifer said that she met an editor who told her that only 10% of the people she spoke with at conferences ever sent her what they’d discussed and what she’d asked them to send. The other 90%? Never to be heard from again. They didn’t send her anything, possibly because they thought the editor was “just being nice”. The message I took from this was, editors don’t joke around about this type of thing. If they ask for it, send it.

This was a great session to kick off my conference experience. And the learning just continued. Tune in next Sunday for highlights from the second session I attended: Writing True Stories.

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4 Responses to Sunday Style: Make the Most of A Conference

  1. Stephanie says:

    Great words of wisdom, Liz! I think this is a great idea – posting about a little at a time. It will give us something manageable to think about, plus it helps you absorb it all! I’m glad it was a good experience for you.

    Looking forward to next week!

  2. Jan Udlock says:

    Thank you for the conference concentrate. Like, Stephanie, I’m looking forward to your next Sunday’s post.

  3. jesakalong says:

    Liz, I love how you’re re-visiting the conference and sharing what you learned with us. Great post! The idea of creating a mission statement for a conference is so good. Like you, I’ve seen what a strong mission statement can do. I’m definitely using this tip. Thanks again for sharing. I’m already looking forward to your next Sunday Style.

  4. Nice! Thanks for these little gems, Liz. I’ll just tuck those away in my own writer’s toolkit. 🙂

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