Memorize pitch. Check
One Sheets. Check.
Research Agents and Editors. Check.
And the list goes on as I make final preparations for my trip to this years ACFW Conference in Dallas. Last year was my first time attending the Conference as well as my first ever writer’s conference. Some people say I jumped into the deep end, and I felt like a deer in the headlights a few times. But it was a challenging experience. I went with low expectations since my book wasn’t finished, yet it was still harrowing to pitch my story for the first time to the people who held the keys to the industry.
There were cool moments, like when I met a writing mentor for the first time. There were embarrassing moments, like when an editor asked me pitch my story to him at a urinal. I think my favorite part was making new friends who were in the same boat as me. First time speculative writers with great stories who are trying to break into one of the hardest markets in the world (Christian Speculative Fiction). There were only a dozen of us among the multitide of writer’s and even fewer gatekeepers who were interested in meeting with one of our kind. But we banded together, prayed for each other, and commiserated/congratulated one another after each meeting took place. I’ve kept in touch with almost every one of those people I met, and look forward to seeing them again.
So, what about this year? I’ll be reunited with my roomates from last year, so I can’t wait for that. All of my critique partners are attending, so that will be way cool. A good friend is a finalist in the Genesis contest, which will make the award ceremony more exciting. Yes, my favorite part is the relationships I’ve formed. But what about my writing career?
This will be my third writer’s conference, so I hope the deer-in-the-headlights feeling won’t be there. There’s even fewer gatekeepers interested in speculative fiction this year, so my expectations for landing a deal aren’t too high. The classes are always good, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot.
I’m not sure what to expect. I like my pitch. It generates more interest than it did in the past. But my story is done and sent to the publisher who requested it, so it’s not going to be horrible if no one else wants my story.
Ultimately one concept more than ever permeates my mind. God is the One who truly holds the keys to my publishing career. It took me a good month or two to get over the disappointment from last year’s conference. But in the end, I became a better writer and learned a few important spiritual lessons. My hope for this year is that God opens new doors for me, but I want to stay humble, learn to be a better writer, and build more relationships. If the stars align and I land an agent or a publishing house wants my book, that would be the cherry on top. Either way, I want to work hard, put out my best effort, and trust that I’m in His loving hands.
So, are you going to the ACFW Conference? What do you look forward to most at a writer’s conference?