For many years I’ve attended conferences. At these events, I often have made profitable and important connections for my publishing work. These connections have resulted in requests for and publication of magazine articles, guest blog posts, and even books.
Attending conferences is a financial investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways to profit from a conference.
First, listen for opportunities. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher would be doing. I’ve written Bible studies in the past and enjoy this type of writing. I noticed the opportunity, and, therefore, made a point to email this editor to affirm my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said, at the right time, he would be in touch.
This type of follow-up work can lead to additional writing opportunities. However, you have to be listening for them.
Another editor I met at a conference had worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation, and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as for a new writing credit. I emailed the editor, and we are corresponding about some ideas that I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication.
Listen for opportunities, and then take action.
Advanced preparation before the event is a second way to profit from the conference. Study the faculty and see what they publish. Then write pitches and book proposals specifically for that publishing pro.
Several writers at a recent conference brought flash drives with electronic copies of their material. As a faculty member, I appreciated their efforts, and that preparation moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process.
In one case, I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board, and I’m hoping to get a publishing contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.
Consistent action of follow-up is the third way to profit from a conference. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information readily available online. And most conferences have a freebie table with magazines and writers guidelines. These publications are looking for freelance writers.
However, you have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines, then make your pitch, send your query or and generally follow-through. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then, when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.
At most conferences, I meet many people and come home with a large stack of business cards. I then follow-up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal or manuscript.
4. Take Action
Additionally, a few of the conference attendees reach out to me first. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention, and you will get publishing opportunities.
One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing and publishing world. But you must take action on these new skills. Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences.
It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply them to their writing life. They do something with the knowledge they bring home from a conference.
As writers, we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge leap forward for you if you look for opportunities, prepare, follow-up, and take action.
Have you found conferences to be helpful in your growth as a writer and author? Tell me in a comment below.
About the Author
W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor, lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.