While most of the country is reaching for lemonade and ice cream in these super hot temperatures (welcome to summer in Florida, by the way-bleh!) fall is around the corner. I promise. And that not only means cute sweaters and pumpkins, but also conference season! Huzzah!
If you're planning to attend the ACFW conference this year, did you realize it is almost exactly two months away? Is it just me, or is that really hard to believe?
So today I wanted to put together a list of some things you can do now to start preparing for the conference, and to keep you the dreaded panic that comes from waiting until the last minute.
- Research, research, research. Sometimes people spend a lot of money to attend conferences but not much time preparing. If you are going to meet with an editor or an agent, please take the time to find out what that person represents. If you write historical, you don't want to wind up pitching to someone who's only looking for YA, or vice versa. Many publishing houses have a very specific vibe that they specialize in. Take time to read books by prospective publishing houses, and see who's publishing work like yours. Then target those people. Impress editors and agents by being able to converse about their current authors. You'd be surprised by how few people do this, and it will give you the edge up.
- Start working on that one sheet. Don't wait until the last minute to get your materials ready. The sooner you get started, the more time you'll have to tweak. Your one sheet should give your title, your hook, a blurb about your story that leaves the editor/agent wanting to see more, and a bio about yourself. Our own Alley Cat Angie Dicken is offering an amazing deal on one sheet designs (only $40 per one sheet!) if you haven't already heard. You can see some examples of her work at this link: http://supamomthoughts.blogspot.com/p/cba-one-sheet-design-service.html
- Get that book ready! To pitch a project, it needs to be at least mostly done. With two months to go, you still have plenty of time to get it ready, but time's a 'ticken, so be sure you get serious about putting in that consistent word count so your project is pitch-worthy.
- Pray, pray, pray. Pray for God's favor, His appointments, His vision, and for Him to use you to minister to others. Pray for the editors and the agents and the publishing houses and the future of CBA. We
We so desperately need to stand up as the body of Christ--and especially as Christian writers--to pray for the future of Christian fiction. If we, who are already so passionate about this field, fail to seek God's council and favor, who will? God wants to do incredible things through all of us, and I have personally seen and experienced His presence in a deep way at the ACFW conference.
Think of it this way. Imagine if you had a relative or friend who wanted to give you something valuable, but they were waiting until you were ready, and until they could give it to you in person. They needed to know you were engaged, and that the moment was right. What if you never spoke to that person? What if you knew that gift was yours, and yet you never claimed it?
I wonder how often God is holding the gift-wrapped box out to us, hands outstretched, and waiting. How often His heart must be grieved when we close our fists and turn away.
Don't turn away. Believe He has great things for you, and seek His face until you find them.
- Leave your nerves behind. When we begin to prepare for something big in our lives, it's natural to start getting more and more nervous as the excitement builds. Everyone feels a little scared to get on that plane and take the next step. Don't let anxiety keep you from your dreams. Keep in nerves your check by reminding yourself of the vision God has cast in your life and your writing. And at the ACFW Conference in particular, people are so friendly. You'll feel like you belong there the moment you put on that ACFW lanyard and the front desk workers ask if you're a writer.
- Get those first three chapters polished! You may have a few people ask to see a writing sample if they like your story, so be sure your first three chapters are sparkling and ready to go. No time like the present to start passing those around to critique partners, moms, and best friends. Make them as good as they can be! You want to put forward the best possible reflection of yourself.
Hope this list gives you a good idea of ways you can start preparing for conference season. Are you attending any conferences this year? Do you have any tips to add to the list?
Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.