How to Get the Most out of a Writers’ Conference


Did you know there are several major Christian writers’ conferences around the nation?

Attending a conference in your area or traveling to a major conference holds many benefits. You will connect with other writers. You will learn more about the business and craft of writing. You may meet editors, agents, and publishers.

Today, I want to share 6 things to remember as you plan to attend a Christian writers’ conference.

1. Go with reasonable expectations

Some writers show up with the belief that a conference is successful only if you sell your book idea. Does that happen? Rarely. More often, a writer walks away with a better idea of how to refine their proposal or platform. They may receive an invitation to submit that proposal which is exciting, but not guaranteed.

Redefine those expectations. Go with the intent to meet other writers who love what you do. To learn more about your craft. When you do this, you are setting expectations that are just as valuable in the long run.

2. Do your research

Not all conferences are equal. That doesn’t mean that a smaller conference isn’t valuable. It may be exactly where you will gain the most benefit.

  • How many workshops are offered?
  • Who is teaching?
  • Will there be editors or agents?
  • Will there be opportunities to meet with those agents, editors or workshop speakers?
  • Is the information what you need at this stage?
3. Reach out before the conference

There’s nothing more fun that getting together with people who share a passion. If there is a hashtag or social media presence for the conference, check out who else is attending. If you introduce yourself to a couple of people beforehand, it makes it that easier to get to know even more people once you arrive.

4. Don’t fan-girl

Once you arrive, you’ll meet authors and publishers that you admire. Remember that they are human too. They write because they love it and it feels like a calling. They publish because it’s the want to place life-changing books in the hands of readers. While it’s great to admire them, get to know them as potential co-workers, team mates, and friends.

Don’t fan-girl. Don’t follow them into the bathroom to give your pitch. Don’t place them on a pedestal so high that you fall over your words.

Just be you. Let that person be themselves. It’s a great way to connect.

5. Make a plan

The first and most important function of a conference is knowledge. Rather than randomly choose classes or workshops, make a plan to take workshops that fit right where you are. (You can usually purchase recordings of workshops that you’d like to explore later.)

6. Know your stuff

It’s great to be prepared with a proposal, but most agents and editors don’t have the capability to lug home 20 proposals. You know the heart of your book idea. Be prepared to talk about your book, the target audience, and the value to the reader.

(You can always place a one-sheet or business card in their hands if they are interested.)

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Suzie Eller is a COMPEL mentor and Community Coordinator.

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