By Beth K. Vogt
We writers talk a lot about how to prepare for a writers conference, don’t we? We discuss our elevator pitches and our one sheets and how to polish our manuscripts, all the while planning our travel itineraries and our roommates and our wardrobes.
Hundreds of you attended the ACFW conference in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s time to talk about what you do after you’ve attended a writer’s conference. What you do after a conference is just as important as all your prep before you arrived and checked in at the conference registration table.
- Breathe. Resting is mandatory, not optional, after a writers conference. After several days of workshops, keynotes, meeting with editors and agents, not to mention nonstop conversation with friends, you’re going to return home flat-out exhausted. Forget all the things you need to do for a few days and rest.
- Reconnect with your real life. Friends, family, and yes, your job are all waiting for you after the conference. You’re going to be too tired to juggle competing time demands, so say hello to everyone who missed you, give them time and attention, and then get some sleep. (See #1 again.)
- Unpack your bags. I highly advocate unpacking your suitcase the day you get home because a neglected suitcase just weighs you down mentally. Next, unpack your conference bag. Toss the bits of trash and sort through the important stuff like:
- Your notebook – if possible, skim the pages and highlight any quotes you want to remember or pull out any website/blog addresses you want to check out. We often jot down things during a workshop and think, “I’ll check this out later” but they get lost in the notebook and never looked at again.
- Business cards you collected – Store these somewhere rather than dump them in a desk drawer. Take a photo with your phone or with an app like Evernote and then toss the cards. Or buy plastic business card pages and file them in a 3-ring binder. If there’s someone you want to email, do it now.
- Bookmarks – How about putting these by your To Be Read Pile? Novel idea, right? (No pun intended.)
- Write thank-you notes. Have fun with your thank you’s. Let the cards reflect your personality. The year I pitched my debut novel, Wish You Were Here, my thank you cards were postcards with the saying, “Wish You Were Here” on them
- Step through those open doors. I’ve heard over and over again about how editors have asked for manuscripts – and then never received them. Maybe someone thought, “Oh, it’s going to be a no. Why bother?” But what if it was going to be a yes? A year from now, be able to look back and know that you took advantage of all the opportunities God provided you.
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A Christy Award winner, as well as an ACFW Carol Award winner, Beth is the author of nine contemporary romance novels and novellas. Her first women’s fiction novel, Things I Never Told You, released May 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers.