By Tamela Hancock Murray
(Editor’s Note: ACFW congratulates Tamela on being named the 2017 Agent of the Year at our recent conference).
As I mentioned in several recent posts about conferences, sometimes your best decision is to stay home. For example, if you missed ACFW’s conference last week, not to worry! You can become a traditionally published author, or maintain your momentum, without attending a conference. Although I started writing books many years ago, I never went to a conference as an author. The first one I attended was an ACFW (then ACRW) conference, as a literary agent. This was years after I’d become a bestselling, award-winning author. And I didn’t have the advantages of email or social media, so your chances of succeeding with a similar path are even greater. Here are a few steps you might consider when attending conferences won’t work for you:
- Join professional organizations such as RWA https://www.rwa.org/ and ACFW https://www.acfw.com/. I am a member of both. Many other excellent professional organizations specialize in specific types of fiction and nonfiction. Do your research and see which ones are a good fit for you. Look for those that offer lots of ways for authors and other publishing professionals to interact online so you can minimize travel.
- Follow agent blogs such as this one to learn about agencies and individual agents. When you interact with agents through their blogs, they become familiar with you and your name will mean something to them when you submit your proposal.
- Interact with others on social media to forge and strengthen relationships. While professional friendship is your top priority, these relationships can grow and you may find that you feel comfortable offering published authors’ names for possible endorsement.
- Find a mentor through your professional organizations. Many offer specific mentoring programs, meaning those who offer to be mentors expect to spend time nurturing new talent. This is a more linear and probably easier path than making friends with an author and hoping that author will have time to mentor
- Join local chapters of your national organizations. Often those are much more low key and intimate than the national chapters can be. Some offer small conferences that might be realistic for you to attend. But even if you can’t, you can still make and keep connections.
What tips can you offer the author who can’t attend a conference?
What professional organizations do you recommend?
What is your favorite way to interact with publishing professionals online?
Tamela Hancock Murray is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency (www.stevelaube.com). Previously, her books appeared on bestseller lists and she won an RWA Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Tamela and her husband are the parents of two lovely daughters. Find Tamela on Facebook and Twitter @Tamela_Murray.
(Reprinted from the Steve Laube Agency blog dated July 6, 2017)