I’m often asked, by aspiring authors:
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer as we try to break into the publishing world?
I’m usually tempted to say, learn to speak in a British accent, (since it’s done wonders for me). But instead, my singular piece of advice for those who don’t have an agent is:
Attend a Writers’ Conference.
I personally never wanted to.
I’d heard about writers’ conferences before, but I didn’t need to go to one. I decided I could do this myself. The thought of attending a writers’ conference intimidated and overwhelmed me. I’d seen the photographs of packed stadiums, brimming with people and bustling with activity. I was shy. I didn’t need, or want, to network with lots of agents, publishers, or other writers.
But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that there were only two ways to get my manuscript into the hands of Zondervan ( which was my goal). I either needed an agent, or I had to attend a conference.
That’s when I felt God nudging me to look at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, taking place in Muskegon, on the picturesque shore of Lake Michigan.
Not only was this conference in a beautiful setting, but it appealed to me because of its size. Although described as the largest writers’ conference in West Michigan, it was ‘small enough to be personable,’ promised excellent faculty in attendance, and was able to offer individual attention to writers through consultations with agents and editors. I plucked up courage, prayed, and registered. It was a decision I would never, ever regret.
Maranatha really did have an impressive faculty list. As I prepared for the conference, I scanned through the names, and saw that a well-known children’s author would be attending, to offer workshops, and meet one on one with writers.
I checked out her website and noticed she also offered editing and critique services. So I contacted her and before we’d even met at Maranatha, she had critiqued and edited both my proposal and the entire manuscript. I signed up to attend her workshops, registered for individual consultations with several faculty, and printed off my newly edited proposal. God had been with me every step of the way.
I was ready to attend my first writers’ conference.
My experience at Maranatha was everything it promised to be. Not once did I feel intimidated or overwhelmed. I was welcomed with genuine warmth; found fellowship with new friends; attended life-changing, informative workshops; heard inspirational testimonies; walked barefoot on the beach; and prayed with a small group of writers on a wooden balcony overlooking Lake Michigan, as God’s voice whispered through the wind and the waves.
The children’s author who had edited my work agreed to endorse my book, and most importantly, I was able to meet one on one with an editor from Zonderkidz- a ten minute consultation that would forever change my life.
She went back to Zondervan carrying my proposal. I went back home carrying my dream—a dream that was about to become reality.
Little did I know that on a beautiful fall day, in that quiet, friendly, charming atmosphere of the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, a new chapter of my life would begin. Little did I know….but God knows it all.
God – the giver of the writing gift; the creator of dreams; the planter of seeds; God knows it all. Writers… pick up your pens, open yourselves to the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and register.
Next week on the blog: 5 Not-to-Miss Tips To Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile.