Saturday, April 15, 2006

Recapture the Conference

Last month, I spoke on the topic of Book Proposals That Sell at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton. This conference is every other year and has a maximum capacity. When registration opened earlier this year, it sold out in a matter of weeks. I had several people contact me who wanted to attend but could not.Ermabombeck

Yesterday’s mail brought an unusual package from this conference.  First, I received terrific feedback about my workshop and how it was received from the participants.  When I teach at a conference or workshop, I have a simple goal: that each participant feel like the information in my sessions gave them the value of the whole conference.  I understand it costs each person to attend a conference—and not just financial but time away from family and other responsibilities.  Over the years, I’ve been in some workshops which were a complete waste of my time. I never want anyone in my sessions to go away with that feeling.  It’s driven me to almost over prepare for these sessions and include detailed handouts (which contain information beyond what I cover orally).

With this background of how I prepare my workshops, it was encouraging to me when I received this type of feedback:

“I do believe I got the most out of this session than out of any other.” or “I came away with the real sense that editors are merely human beings just like the next guy you pass on the street, but the only difference is that he is in the book industry.” or “Terry’s information combined with the many handouts he offered to his class was exceptional!”

Besides this workshop feedback, the package included an unusual gift. I received an MP3 CD-ROM of the complete conference audio recordings.  If you’ve ever taught or participated in any of the behind the scenes work at these conferences, you know it’s almost impossible to attend any sessions (or at least all of the sessions that you would like to attend).  As a speaker, it marked a first for me to receive the recordings of my own session along with everyone else who taught. What a great idea for anyone who is a conference director!

If you missed this conference, you can purchase one of these complete audio recordings for a great value. Just follow this link. Listening to the audio isn’t the same as being in the actual session. You miss the networking and opportunity to get your questions answered on the spot—but it’s the next best thing from my view.

2 Comment:

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Bill Williams Left a note...

Excellent article!

If your workshops are as practical as your blog, they are quite worth the time.


At 8:33 AM, Blogger Heather Ivester Left a note...

That's a great idea for a conference planner to tape the whole conference. I always have such a hard time picking out which CDs to buy of the workshops I missed.

I'll also chime in to say I had the pleasure of attending Terry Whalin's four-day workshop on how to write non-fiction books at the 2004 Blue Ridge Christian Writer's conference. He gave us dozens of detailed handouts, which I came home and filed away, and I've referred to them many times. I also bought and read his book about how to write book proposals.

Is his class practical? Well, my first nonfiction book was released last month by Thomas Nelson -- a Mother's Day gift book, From a Daughter's Heart to Her Mom. You can see it on the Thomas Nelson gift books page here:


I've also coauthored or contributed to seven other nonfiction books since 2004. So, I have to say Terry Whalin's writing workshops go above and beyond others I've attended.

The biggest tip I came away with is the importance of building up long-term relationships in the publishing industry -- you don't want to push and annoy people for a one-shot deal; focus on long-term goals and be an easy writer to work with. And constantly work to improve your writing craft!


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