When I recently heard the term “Christian writers conference,” I thought, What is that? I’m from New England, so the term was foreign to me. While it is apparent who attends a Christian writers conference, I didn’t know what was involved or the benefits—until last weekend.
While pitching a recent project to agents and publishers, one agent described the project as “on the bubble.” That’s a phrase coined by NCAA Basketball Tournament aficionados. It means the project has a chance to be accepted by a traditional publisher, but it’s not “a slam dunk.” He recommended I attend a Christian Writers Conference and report back to him.
Time and money immediately came to mind. Yet the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference outside of Memphis offered a one-day event at a very modest investment. And Debbie was out of town. Since the experience couldn’t hurt, I jumped in the car last weekend and headed west. Two days later, I was sold on the concept. Here is what aspiring Christian writers can gain from attending such a conference.
People at this conference actually answered me back and engaged with me! One of the facets of the publishing industry that is truly broken these days is the response rate from industry insiders to the people who are slaving to create meaningful content for them. After pitching many agents and publishers recently, I can tell you that not only is obtaining access to industry insiders difficult, but obtaining a timely–or any–response to your correspondence is too. It was refreshing to have peers and experts advise me. You can’t make good progress in any industry without connecting with people.
This old dog learned some new tricks. The instruction of others who have “been there, done that” can save you time and frustration. One expert presenter shared leads on free software helpful for writers and publishers. Another presenter shared about the value of developing a social media following. Somehow, I felt a strong toe in my hind end. We all need motivation like that from time to time.
When you’re stuck behind a computer screen for most of your work week, it’s helpful to find others who can relate to your challenges and dreams. I found plenty of kindred spirits at this writers conference. What’s more, the “Christian” in “Mid-South Christian Writers Conference” shone forth like a new day dawning. Not only did I find myself among committed believers with the giving spirits you expect from sinners saved by grace, I was reminded repeatedly of the purpose of a Christian writer.
God has given the Christian writer a desire to communicate truth to a world in need. He has called the writer to share that truth in whatever creative way He has impressed upon the writer to do it, and to be diligent and persistent even when the going gets tough. Debbie and I have been praying accordingly, but hearing it from others was an important reminder. So, thank you, Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.
Most profound, however, was seeing what can come from hard work. One such example is Pat Bradley. She got serious about writing and publishing novels at age 69. Now, several years later, she has eight traditionally published novels to her credit and more on the way. It’s never too late to realize a dream. Encouragement like that is worth the price of admission!
After attending this conference, I understand better the wisdom of that prospective agent’s advice. As he told me, “Many writers need the full exposure to a writers conference. I have yet to have one complain it was a useless exercise.” My eyes were opened to some new possibilities. I don’t think I’ll report back to that agent…just yet. I have some projects on my plate now. I got my time and money’s worth from that conference, and you can too.