This time next week I'll be in Nashville for my fifth ever ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers') Conference. I'll be honest - I'm excited about the many hours I'm going to have planes that don't require entertaining little people, having small hands "helping" with my meals and being able to go to the bathroom alone!
Some people have asked my why I'm bothering going to a conference, especially one on the other side of the world with all the expense that entails, when I have "made it" as a published author.
There are more reasons than I can list here but these are the top three :)
No One Has Ever "Made It"
Sure authors hit the bestsellers lists and build up huge followings and the very very few make some very good money from their writing but even they are not immune to losing sales and readers if their storytelling doesn't continue to evolve and grow. No one in this industry can afford to be complacent. Conferences provide an amazing opportunity to grow in your craft and enjoy the teaching and insights of other writer and industry professionals.
Friends - Old and New!
This writing journey is often an isolated one. All of my best writing friends live in the US and while we are in contact every day virtually the conference allows us a once-a-year opportunity to be together in person. Spending four days in the company of fellow writers who have been on this journey with me for years now refreshes my soul like very little else. Then there's the endless opportunities to make new friends, encourage other writers and just be immersed in the company of other people who hear imaginary friends having arguments in their heads :)
Making/Strengthening Connections With Industry Professionals
As much as I am looking forward to seeing my writing sisters, I am just as much looking forward to seeing my amazing publishing team. This year it's even more of a win-win than usual because Howard Books is based in Nashville so I'll get to see the whole team. These are the people who made my crazy publishing dream come true, helped make the books better than I could have ever accomplished on my own, created the most gorgeous covers for Can't Help Falling and Close To You, worked tirelessly to get them into bookstores and in front of readers and love the stories almost as much as I do. I'll also be meeting with my agent, publicist and attending my first ever readers' retreat!
Before I was ever a writer I was an avid reader first and foremost. I still am. There is a long list of authors who I get giddy over their books let alone passing them in a hotel lobby! At ACFW many of them will be there. Taking the same classes as I am, sitting at the same table for meals, getting coffee in the lobby. You can bet I'll be hunting down a few autographs of my own!
What about you? Have you ever been to a writers' conference? What are your favourite parts?