I was incredibly nervous to attend my first Writing Conference. I was going to be in the presence of many amazing and accomplished authors, not to mention my competition. It was a little overwhelming for me. I decided to do it anyway. My goals: learn a lot, approach at least one person and talk about my story, get out of my comfort zone, and improve my confidence. I was riding with a couple of said amazing writers who were kind enough to even come and pick me up.
I made an entrance to the Life The Universe and Everything Conference.
It started with a fall, flat on my back as I approached the car. Not what I had planned.
It was icy, and I was mortified.
It got much better from there. You see, when you start flat on your back, there really is only one way to look,and that’s up. So I started climbing to the light.
I embraced the conference and I learned the following things:
1: I may have been overdressed. It was a long climb up people. I am so used to business conferences and the idea of looking professional when presenting oneself to the world. My slacks and sweater were not the common apparel. I missed the boat on this when I chose not to wear my flashing eyes headband or tie dyed shirt and bathrobe. For me though, I was comfortable in myself and this helped my confidence.
2: Writers are very nice people. Conversations came easy and I found that I was enjoying meeting new people. People offered to read my book and query letter, just because they could and thought it might help me. People smiled and looked me in the eye as they said hello. For a bunch of covert home bodies who write in their basements, people skills overall, not too bad!
3: Query letters have only three parts, but are really really hard. I am still waiting for the day when I can say, “Nailed It” but for now, I go back to the drawing board to continue working on the shortest, but most difficult process of my entire book so far. Key takeaways: I have a book, not a series. I need to work on selling just one. Also, don’t ask questions in the query, make statements that bring emotion.
4: Be prepared with a pitch and a card. I didn’t have either, so I found myself floundering a little. Author cards were like pogs back in the day. Everyone was slapping them out on the table. I felt a little left out. Followed closely by my name, (and sometimes before, I was asked what my book was about. I was more used to getting to know people by what they do other than write, that this was a challenge for me. I am working on something though so I will be prepared next time. It’s that confidence piece I need to work on and be prepared. Writing is a business, not just finishing a manuscript. I am selling something after all.
5: Writing conferences are really really fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I came out of my shell and talked to people I didn’t know. I told a lot about my story and made connections with people who might actually be able to help me get my book published, at least by giving me feedback and ideas. I met some great people and took away so many notes.
If you have the chance to attend a conference, I highly recommend it. It is a great way to really get your feet into the world of writing and decide if it is something you are really committed to. I am and I am so happy that I didn’t just walk back into my house, but instead, I looked up, and I climbed my way out.