Monday, April 24, 2017

Five Things To Do After a Writers' Conference

By Andrea Merrell

You’ve just returned from a writers' conference. You’ve invested your time, energy, and money. Your head is overflowing with information that needs to be processed. What should you do next?

After attending conferences for the past ten years, here are five things I’ve found most helpful.

Breathe
The first item on your agenda should be to stop, take a deep breath, and allow your mind and body to decompress. Writing conferences can be exhilarating and exhausting, especially when they’re longer than a couple of days. After attending my very first conference, my mind was spinning with information overload, and my body was spent. I had so many notes, handouts, and business cards, I didn’t know what to do with them. Treat yourself to a nap or a trip to Starbucks. Visit with a friend or fellow writer and share your experience with them. Taking a break will allow you time to get your thoughts in order before you tackle the tasks ahead of you.

Network
Go through the business cards you collected while names and faces are still fresh in your mind. Connect with these folks on social media. Visit their website or blog and leave a comment. Subscribe to their posts. E-mail someone you made a connection with, and keep in touch. Send a thank-you to those who were helpful and encouraging. Networking is all about establishing a relationship with others in the industry.

You never know when God will give you a kingdom connection, and you never know how it might come. He may surprise you with those He chooses to pour into your life and help you move forward. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

Study Your Notes
Writing is a lifelong learning process. Go over your notes and put what you learned into practice. Don’t file those notes away and forget about them. Think of it as continuing education for writers. If you have questions, brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes were recorded and you purchased the MP3s or digital downloads, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

Get Back to Work
Whatever you’re working on—devotion, article, essay, fiction, or nonfiction—get back to work while you’re still excited and motivated by what you gleaned from the conference. Once you’ve read through your notes or listened to the recorded classes, put that new information into action. Maybe you learned how to craft great dialogue or how to write with deep POV. Perhaps you picked up some unique marketing techniques or valuable resources. Be sure to take the time to check those out.

Follow-Up
If you met with an editor, agent, or publisher and they asked you to send them a proposal or a few chapters of your work in progress, do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for writing samples at a conference and never received them. Conferences are the best way to get your writing foot in the door. If the professional you met with was not interested in you and your project, they would not have asked you to send them a sample.

Bottom Line
Writing conferences are vital to your writing career. The best advice I ever received as a newbie was to “join a critique group, attend writers’ conferences, and network, network, network.” I took that advice and have never regretted it for one moment.

Whatever you do—before, during, and after the conference—be ready. Whenever you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

What about you? What have you found helpful after you return from a conference? We would love to hear from you.


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Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Light a Fire To Your Writing Career

by DiAnn Mills    @DiAnnMills


When writers realize the embers of their careers are dying, stomping out the few remaining flames is not the answer. Instead, effective writers look for new ways to promote themselves that explodes with ingenuity and creativity.

Is your career on the verge of smoldering? Try adding a spark to your marketing and promotion plan with these ideas.

1. Brainstorm with other writers about your brand and marketing and promotion efforts. Brainstorming is the best method I know to expand creativity from the writing process to branding and promotion.

2. A new professional photo. Invest in a good photographer who will not only create a great new look for media but will also snap a few candid and fun pics that can be used for social networking.

3. Update your website. Now may be the time to consider an exciting design that uses your brand as the focus. Your website is your calling card. It must reflect you, your writing, and your uniqueness.

4. Author bio. A writer uses his/her flair for words to enhance a bio that draws readers into your world. Make it personal and professional. Also develop a shorter version for those times when media has space for two or three sentences.

5. If you’re social media networking includes only Facebook or Twitter, stretch yourself. Dive into the advantages of Goodreads where a writer can communicate with readers. Take the time to read all the benefits of Goodreads for writers. Pinterest is addictive, and the many uses of images in marketing and promotion are endless. Don’t limit yourself! Are podcasts and Facebook Live in your future?

6. Use Buffer or Hootsuite to organize and simplify your social media posts. This relieves the stress of watching the clock and questioning when followers are online. Analytics provide information critical to posting and content. Other methods are available, but these are my favorites. https://bufferapp.com https://hootsuite.com.

7. Is blogging a part of your plan? A successful writer understands a blog is only as good as the subject matter and how the material is presented. Use images, videos, memes, and make it fun.

8. Commit to reading blogs and books about marketing and promotion for writers in your genre.

9. Are you taking care of yourself physically? A writer who’s not healthy or regularly exercising can’t expect the brain and heart to engage to maximum potential.

10.Are you ensuring each book is written better than the previous one? Are writing challenges met with determination by studying the craft, deepening skills, and evaluating your own work?

11. Prayer. This should be first. Seek God’s guidance for ways to glorify Him as we seek to entertain, inspire, and encourage readers.

Perhaps one of these eleven ideas have motivated you to add fire to your writing career. Determine today to light a match to one of them.

How are you igniting a fire in your writing? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Light a Fire To Your Writing Career via @DiAnnMills 

Is your writing career flickering? Light a fire under it!


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/diannmills, Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills or any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Be sure to check out DiAnn's newest release, Deep Extraction, available now.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Preparing for a Writers' Conference

Last week, Alycia shared some great tips on why you shouldattend a writers' conference. This week, let’s talk about how you can be prepared for the conference.


By Andrea Merrell

You’re getting ready to attend a writer’s conference. Maybe it’s your first one, and you’re not quite sure what to do. Here are a few tips to help you be prepared.

Clothing
Always check the weather (extended forecast) and pack accordingly. Even if you think you won’t need it, take a jacket or sweater. Layering is always a good idea. Most conferences are business casual, and comfortable shoes are a must if you will be doing a lot of walking. If there is to be a banquet or awards night, you might want to take something dressy.

Food
Some conference centers have restaurants, snack bars, and vending machines, but it’s always a good idea to take your favorite snacks for those in-between or late-night moments when food is not available. You can also pack a few bottles of water or your favorite soda. 

Be sure to keep mints with you at all times. 😊

Materials for the Conference
  • Business Card: Your first investment should be a business card with your name and pertinent information. Be sure to include a photo. You might think you will remember all the people you meet, but when you get home and go through all the cards you collected, you will be wracking your brain to remember people. Make it a point to exchange business cards throughout the conference. This is how you network.
  • One-Sheet: This is a single sheet of paper that contains the title of your project, genre, word count, your photo and bio, and a short synopsis of your story (think back cover blurb).
  • Bookmarks, postcards, or other materials that you use to promote your book or services. Most conferences have tables where they offer freebies.
  • Notebook, extra pens, conference schedule, and driving directions.
Other Important Items
Don’t forget your vitamins, prescription medications, and toiletry items (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razor, etc.). Many conferences are now fragrance free.

Most places will offer hairdryers and coffee pots in the room.

Be sure to bring your chargers for phones, tablets, and laptops, along with extra batteries. I always carry my earbuds and an extension cord just in case.

Last, but not least ... bring some cash. Besides snacks and vending machines, there are always books available to purchase.

Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember is to relax and make the most of your experience. It’s especially hard when you are a newbie, but we were all newbies at one time. Pray. Ask the Lord to show you which classes will be most beneficial and the right people to meet with. Believe for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help when you need it. Christian conferences are a special community of like-minded individuals who are more than ready to help each other.

What has your experience been in preparing for a conference? Are there other items you would add to the list?

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/jannoon028)


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