My First Professional Writer’s Conference

The first weekend in August I attended my first Professional Writer’s Conference at Taylor University. The experience was genuinely helpful and extremely necessary. I am so grateful that a fellow Indiana-ACFW member recommended I attend. I walked through the doors with no idea what I might find, learn, or do, and climbed into my car at the end of Saturday with my head and bag stuffed with information, new faces, names, and opportunities.

The campus was beautiful with green space, trees, a stream, and well-designed buildings. I met two writers from Indiana-ACFW outside registration. They welcomed me and helped me feel at home. I drove to the residence hall where I would be spending the night, and found my room. What memories walking into that tiny space invoked! Once I settled in, made my bed with the linens provided, and checked my schedule, I walked across campus to the hall designated for classes and meetings. Sweat from the early August heat, dampened my forehead and made me glad for the air conditioned hall.

The twenty-four hours of keynotes, break-out sessions and fifteen minute appointments with industry professionals, broken by meals, and a few hours of sleep flew by. I had signed up for two appointments, but was able to meet with four people.

My first appointment was with Bob Russell, an agent from the Steve Laube Agency. He evaluated my one-sheet, pointing out the many novice mistakes I had made. His advice was kind, professional, and welcomed.

Next, I met with Jessie Stover from The Seymour Agency. I had so much fun brainstorming ideas for a fantasy story that’s in my brain. I felt like we really clicked, and looked forward to seeing her again in Nashville at the ACFW Conference.

I had an appointment with DiAnn Mills next. She was really helpful and interesting. When I met with Rachael O. Phillips we spoke about the ACFW Choir and a bit about her publishing journey. It was so cool to actually meet published authors and have the opportunity to speak with them one-on-one. They have so much knowledge and are willing to help newbies like me. What a fantastic experience!

Meals provided the opportunity to get to know other seekers like me. At one meal I sat by a young girl who is just getting started in her writing career. I really enjoyed meeting her and her mother. After the conference she sent me a chapter of her novel to read, and it was really good. I think she has an amazing career ahead of her.

One of the most beneficial parts of the conference for me was just getting a feel for what a writer’s conference is like–the nuts and bolts of it. The opportunity to pitch my story and meet with professionals gave me a leg up for the ‘big conference’ in September. I was much less nervous because of Taylor.

If you’re aspiring to become a published author, I definitely recommend attendance at writer’s conferences. Find a professional organization whether local or national and join it. Put yourself in the company of writing professionals and learn as much as you can. Take advantage of the experience others farther down the path are willing to share, and most of all, WRITE!

Share your comments, stories about your own experiences, and ask questions. I will be happy to share what I’ve learned so far. Can’t wait to hear from you!