Conference Gold Mines

by Andy ScheerAndy Scheer 2015 05 72 dpi 2 to 3

Where will you find your payoff?

Writers conferences offer more than informative classes, inspiring speakers, and one-on-ones with agents and editors. Having just come down from the mountain at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, I received fresh reminders of these other opportunities:

● Getting There & Back.
Whether carpooling to a nearby conference or sharing a ride from the airport, this time in transit lets you not only talk shop, but also get to know others. One conferee gave a ride to a pastor who just arrived from overseas. I detoured past the airport to pick up an editor from a major publishing house.

● Orienting First-Timers.
If you’re a veteran, can enjoy the privilege to direct newbies (scan the crowd for those looking puzzled). If you’re new and wondering where to find the registration desk and the classrooms, don’t fear. The person who comes to your rescue may eventually become your critique partner.

● Waiting in Line for Meals.
The longer the line, the more opportunity to meet those standing near you. In one meal line a few years ago, while discussing their works in progress, one conferee discovered a much-needed expert resource for her novel’s key scene.

● Eating with Strangers.
It’s tempting to sit with friends … but more adventurous to join a meal table with those you’ve not yet met. Should I ever need to write about hair-coloring, I now know an expert. And I got to tell some people from eastern Kansas about a great writers group in Kansas City.

● Hearing Affirmation.
After several years of rejections, this weekend a friend encountered a publishing professional who agreed his project had fabulous potential. He’d been ready to give up.

● Receiving Redirection.
I’d dreaded my final appointment—for a paid critique with a conferee who had a solid concept but had made some poor decisions in how to introduce the topic. I’m grateful he was open to an approach more likely to engage readers. Some writers get defensive, but this time I got lucky—and so will his future readers.

Where else have you struck gold at a conference?

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.
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