Today's post is from BILL GARRISON, who writes fiction with a twist of suspense. Bill says:
I've been to the 2007 and 2008 ACFW conferences and had a great time at both. The classes are great as are all the sessions. Some people buy the CDs of all the classes and learn from those. Others, like me, probably rarely even look at their notes once they go home.
I think the conferences are valuable because of the people you meet and the connections you make. I've heard it’s important for editors and agents to become familiar with you. They obviously can't remember every name and face, but most I talked to in 2008 remembered me from 2007. And, if you never become their client, you become their acquaintance and then friend.
Also, the conferences are great for agent/editor contacts. The conference costs a lot of money, but it is a venue respected by the industry and will get you a fresh look from an agent/editor that you might not get otherwise. Creating an agenda and having a plan is important, you might get lost otherwise. There is so much going on, and so many people you’ll want to meet and talk to. But, don’t be discouraged if you don’t talk to that one agent, or pitch to that one editor. Don’t let that discourage you or ruin the great experience you are sure to have.
Terry Burns is my agent and I pitched to him at the 2007 conference. He wasn't a scheduled appointment, but he had extra slots and I got the very last slot on the last day, and I'm sure he was exhausted because I know I was. But he listened, was super nice, and a few months later offered to represent me. Still haven't sold that novel, but am almost done with another one that is being critiqued by other clients of his in a critique group. So that is another positive of the conference. You can meet people who write the same novels you do, and develop friendships and critique groups. From the multi-pubbed authors to the first timers, everyone there wants to help everyone else. You get no sense of competition or jealousy in an industry that is extremely competitive.
Register for the conference at: http://www.acfw.com/conference