Friday, March 11, 2005

Learn From Everyone

A number of my writer friends are preparing for writer’s conferences.  Several of my editorial colleagues have also mentioned getting ready to attend a writer’s conference.  Some terrific conferences exist around the country. I’m going to be teaching the continuing class about the nonfiction book at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference in Asheville, NC from April 17–21. Follow the link if you want to know more about this one.

It’s eye opening for many writers to come to a conference and learn how much more they need to learn about publishing and crafting their manuscript. Some people come to conferences because they have a book manuscript to sell or a magazine article or a children’s book. These people latch on to the editors because they have something to thrust into their hands. Please don’t be one of those people.  As an editor, I can tell you that I remember them forever—and in 99.9% of the cases, these people are not ready to be published and have come to the conference mostly to learn they have a lot to learn.

If you have decided to attend one of these conferences, here’s my encouragement. Learn from everyone at the conference.

Many years ago, I attended a small one-day conference at Chapman College in Southern California. I recall asking a woman who was also attending the conference, if she had a manuscript to show the editor. She proudly proclaimed, “I’m a published author.”  At the time, I was also a published author (probably way beyond the publishing experience of this author), yet I didn’t wear my credits on my shirt sleeve. I had decided ahead of time to learn from everyone.  Unpublished writers have amazing stories about their journey, their hopes and dreams. The published authors may not be able to actually contract your book manuscript or magazine article or children’s book. But you should be talking with them because you can learn from their experience in the business. They will sit up until the late hours in the night chatting with you. Networking is a common term to what I’m writing about. Follow this link and this one plus this third one to be fully prepared to attend.

Then go to the conference and see what happens. Be prepared for surprises. They are always around the corner.

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