Monday, December 14, 2015

Are You Ready for a Writers Conference?

Today's post is by Love Inspired and Revell author, Lynette Eason. Not only is she a multi-published, award-winning author, she is also a conference teacher and as of last year, a conference host. If you're looking for a small writer's conference, be sure to check out Weekend with the Writers. I've attended and will be assisting with registration this year, so I can vouch for how wonderful this conference is.

Conferences, conferences and more conferences. Christian and secular alike, they’re everywhere. So, how do you know which conference is for you?

First of all, you have to decide where you are in your writing. Are you a beginner and just getting your feet wet in the writing world? Or have you been writing a while, have entered a few contests and gotten some feedback? Maybe you're that advanced novelist who has tasted the joy—and depression—of “almost”?
The good news is, no matter your level, there’s a writers conference for you. It may take a bit of research on your part to find the one that most fits your needs, but I believe you'll find it’s well worth your effort to invest in the work.

Take a look at the line up of faculty. Who will be there? Are you just wanting to attend classes but aren’t ready to pitch to an agent or an editor? Then find a smaller conference with experienced faculty. Are you ready to pitch your stuff? Then you might want a slightly larger conference with more options and opportunities to meet with editors and agents.

Maybe you're thinking, Conferences are expensive.

Yes, some are. Especially if you have to fly to get there. The good news is, if you’re just writing because it’s something you enjoy and you’re not really seeking publication, then I don’t believe writers conferences are a must. If you have the funds, then go. Why not? Conferences are fun, you get to network with like-minded people, you make new friends, and you might pick up a few ideas about what to write next. But other than that, there’s no real need for a writers conference. On the other hand, if you’re actively seeking publication, then yes! Absolutely, you should go.

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My first writers conference was the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There was no way I could afford to go. At least that’s what I told myself. My husband is in ministry, and we were living at poverty level because I quit teaching to stay home with my children. A sacrifice that I’d do again in a heartbeat. So I told God if He wanted me there, He’d have to get me there. And He did! There were probably 400 attendees and forty staff. Truly, I can’t remember exactly. I do remember being slightly overwhelmed and undersmart! (I made that word up because it’s the perfect description.) Yes, that means I felt dumb occasionally. But that’s all right because not only do I have a really thick skin, I learned so much at that conference. I learned about agents and editors and the whole publishing process. I went to craft classes and learned how to hone my writing skills. I made contacts who were further along in the process than I who I would learn from in the future. My point is, I learned. I made an investment and that investment, that money that I’d saved and scrimped and horded, paid off in the long run.

So, what can you do to afford a conference that's out of your budget?

Start preparing ahead of time—at least a year out. Give yourself ten months to raise the money. I would say a year, but sometimes you have to register early to get the discounted rate. You definitely want to be prepared to do this.

Can you put away $15 a week? That’s $60 a month. In ten months, that’s $600. No, probably not enough for the conference, hotel and flight, but that’s probably about halfway there.

Ask for cash for birthday and Mother’s Day/Father's Day and any other day that you celebrate with gifts for you. Let them know WHY you’re wanting the cash and how they’re going to be helping you.

Designate your household change bucket for your conference – you would be shocked at how much change you will accumulate in ten months.

Do you have a special group that you meet with on a regular basis? A women’s Bible study, a couple’s small group, a group of close friends that you get together with on a weekly basis? First, ask for them to pray for God’s provision for this conference then (if you feel led) ask them if they would be willing to support you financially. Emphasize that no gift is too small and that it is a gift. Let people know your need. Give someone the opportunity to be a blessing to you.

Have a yard sale. You’ll be surprised what people will pay good money for.

Do you sew? Make crafts? Try selling your things on ebay.

Can you work a part time job? Just four or five hours a day while your kids are in school? Yes, I know some people homeschool, etc. This isn’t an option for everyone. But sometimes there are things you can do around your neighborhood. Can you dog sit? Cut your neighbor’s grass for $25? Can you clean someone’s house for $20 an hour? (I pay my lady $110 per visit to clean my house twice a month.) She drives a Jag, I drive a Chevy. :/

And finally, be sure to take down names and addresses of those people who support you. You want to be able to write thank you notes and tell them a little about what you learned at the conference.

Bottom line: If God wants you there, He will make a way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be willing to put forth the effort into getting there, too!

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Tweetable:

Are you ready for a writers conference? Some assistance via @LynetteEason {Click to Tweet}

Can't afford a writers conference? @LynetteEason shares tips on saving for this investment in your career. {Click to Tweet}


Lynette Eason is the award-winning, bestselling author of over thirty books. Lynette writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have finaled or won awards in contests such as The Maggies, Inspirational Readers Choice Award, The Carol, ECPA Book of the Year, The Selah, and others. Her most recent wins are the Carol Award in 2013 and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in 2014. She began her teaching career in the public school classroom and has since moved to teaching at conferences all over the country. Lynette often speaks at women’s conference and retreats, but finds her first love is teaching writing. In her spare time she can be found hanging out with her family, loving on her nieces and nephews, traveling, and…um…writing. Lynette and her husband Jack live in South Carolina with their two teenagers. Life is never boring, that’s for sure! Lynette can often be found online at www.lynetteeason.com

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