Redefining Success at the ACFW Conference

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by Beth K. Vogt

A writing friend of mine is attending the ACFW conference for the first time this year.
She is excited… and nervous. Right now, “nervous” rules the roller coaster ride of her emotions.

The biggest virtual hill she’s facing? The 15-minute appointments with editors and agents.

Writers alternately covet these appointments – the whole “Please, oh please, let me get an appointment with Editor A or Agent B” prayer. Or we dread the thought of those 900 seconds – the whole “I know I won’t remember a single word of my elevator pitch!” angst.

If you’ve ever attended the ACFW conference, you’ve ridden the same writer’s roller coaster as my friend because at one time, you were a conference-newbie too.

We’ve got a few more weeks until we descend on Dallas and I don’t want my friend worn out emotionally by a bunch of “what ifs” before she walks off the plane and into the waiting humidity. So I tossed her a lifeline.

Here’s what I told my friend: She’s already succeeded.

How can this be true when she’s barely practiced her pitch? When she’s still editing her one sheet? When she’s not even started packing for the conference?

My friend has succeeded because she is attending the convention for the first time.

Yep. That’s success if you define success – i.e achievement, accomplishment – as any sort of forward motion in your writing goals.

Last year, my friend wanted to go to ACFW, but she couldn’t. This year, it’s happening. Success.

And that’s not her only step forward.

Last year, her manuscript wasn’t complete.

This year? Finished. Oh, sure, she’ll need to polish it some more. We always do!

Last year, she had no opportunity to pitch her manuscript.

This year? She’ll have appointments – she just doesn’t know with whom yet. And even if she decides to decline those opportunities? There will be other people ready to fill those 15-minute slots, so they won’t go to waste.

Appointments or not, my friend will attend workshops, learning more about her craft.

Forward motion? Absolutely. And forward motion equals success.

During all of this, she’ll meet other writers, building relationships with people who “get” her, which is some of the best kind of forward motion (aka success) a writer can ever have.

What other successes happen at the ACFW conference outside of the 15-minute appointments?

Beth K. Vogt’s contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here (Howard Books), debuted this past May. Here next novel, Catch at Falling Star releases May 2013. She’s the Skills Coach for the My Book Therapy writing community and an established nonfiction author and editor. Join the conversation over at Beth’s blog, In Others’ Words, at

Comments 0

  1. Fabulous advice!

    While it’s terrifying to pitch to an editor or agent, remember they’re looking for great writers, not great salesman. They’re not going to turn down the next Gone with the Wind just because the author stumbled during her pitch. If God wants a book published, He’ll take care of the details.

  2. Wonderful post, Beth!

    Like Pat said above, I believe friendships are one of the best successes at a writers conference–and also, simply, the chance to network, to put industry names with faces.

  3. Last year, I got to meet Beth Vogt.

    What else do you need?


    Seriously, two of my very best friends in the world I didn’t know this time a year ago. We met, briefly, at conference, found each other on Facebook and discovered common interests and the rest, as they say, is history :).

    Love you, my beautiful friend! Wonderful blog!


  4. The greatest thing that happened to me was meeting soooooooo many people. And you KNOW I love to meet people, to hear their stories and find out what makes them tick. I had the opportunity to encourage so many writers. Pure Heaven!

  5. Fantastic article, Beth! One of the successes of conferences is the connections you make with individuals in the industry. No matter what, you will make connections. My connections at this conference five years ago forged an incredible beginning of craft partners and friendships.

    Another success is that you will be experienced at attending a writer’s conference after this first time. You will know the ropes and how to get the most out of your time.

  6. Beth,

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Forward motion = success!

    It is so very, true some of the advice I’ve received from fellow writers have been absolutely invalueable.

    I’m looking forward to ACFW!

    Alena T.

  7. In addition to all that’s been mentioned, building your craft through the workshops is a form of success. Any time I learn something new, I call that a success. And ACFW has the best seminars of any conference I’ve ever attended.

  8. The Conference is all that and more for me as well. I was in Radio as a Personality and Music Director in the late 1970s to the 1980s so lyrics, like words in a novel, lay heavy on my spirit and heart. The lyrics of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson from their LP and title cut TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARD resonates with me in this journey. I have no ego to check at the door, my confidence is low and I’m not sure what I will accomplish now other than being able to attand. Maybe that will be enough. That and hope there are good surprises yet to be revealed. I hope so.

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