Since the conference season is in full swing, you may have just returned from a beautiful event of learning and fellowship. Or you may be planning to go to a conference soon. With that in mind, consider a checklist of what to do upon your return.
1.) Rest. Give yourself at least a day after travel to refresh and relax. I realize very few authors take this advice, but I offer it all the same.
2.) Thank. After thanking the Lord for an uplifting conference, consider thanking those who have touched your heart. While I never expect any acknowledgment after conference appointments, I always appreciate being thought of by authors, whether or not they plan to follow up with a submission to me.
3.) Strategize. If you attended the conference pitching a devotional book, a romance novel, and a gift book, talking to industry professionals should have given you a pulse check on which projects you should pursue. Take time to strategize how you will follow up with agents and editors accordingly.
4.) Update. Feel free to update any agents and editors you plan to follow up with on the status of your submission. Rest assured that I don’t make a list with notes such as, “Author will submit full manuscript by May 1,” and then send harassing emails when they don’t. Rather, if I don’t hear from an author, I assume that the author may have any number of reasons for not following up with me. For instance, the author’s family situation may have become more demanding, or information learned at a conference can change an author’s plans. However, I don’t mind receiving an update from an author such as, “I learned so much at the conference and hope to submit my proposal and manuscript to you after the New Year.” Correspondence such as this keeps your name in front of me, which never hurts!
5.) Write. Enough said.
Thank you for supporting Christian publishing by attending conferences. I hope your time there leads to publishing success for you!
If I may, I’d like to extend the thought of a post-conference checklist.
The use of ‘marry’ in the 12th line carries the archaic English meaning, an expression of surprise.
As I come to my end of days,
I will go out in style
by looking back on all the ways
I worked to make you smile,
encouraging or making light
of writing and of death,
that hand in hand we see God’s might,
not counting every taken breath,
but learning rather that the sum
of things that we may carry
from here into the world to come
are the times when we cry ‘Marry!’
at miracles God sends to us each day
that simply take our breath away.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Great verse, Andrew!
Oh yes, Andrew!
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Tamela, though it had been a couple of years since I attended a writers’ conference (thank you, Covid), I found them to be an incredible font of knowledge. It was fun to meet you, albeit in the ladies’ room (no, I didn’t hand you a manuscript under the stall, like Steve mentioned having had done to him by one earnest writer, some time ago!), but it was great to put a name with a face. After attending years’ worth of scholarly conferences, the AFCW conferences were an absolute treasure trove in comparison.
When I attended my first writers conference I discovered two things: 1) these are my people, and 2) nobody looks like their Facebook photo. It was a fantastic environment for growing my craft. Years later, I still communicate with some of the attendees. We continue to cultivate our friendships. I am very grateful to the conference organizers for creating these opportunities.
I’d add to your excellent list “follow through” on submitting a proposal, manuscript, etc., to the editors or agents who requested them. They don’t ask to be “nice”–they ask because they actually want to see your work. So don’t let your post-conference jitters (you know–the ones that tell you you’re not a writer or that the editor/agent really didn’t mean to say send in your work) stop you from following through.
This is great, actionable advice that I will tuck away for ACFW this fall.
Question: Is sending a hand-written thank-you note to an agent or editor’s office acceptable or creepy?
Tamela Hancock Murray
Megan, since we provide our addresses on our business cards, and our address is listed in many places online, including here on our site, we’re easy to find. Certainly, people selling life insurance and car warranties for vehicles we don’t own can readily find us! So no, I don’t consider correspondence from lovely authors to be creepy.
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Attending a conference opened the solid core doors, double hung windows, French doors, escape hatches, ejection roofs, and parachutes into the writing world I thought I already knew. I did my homework as if studying for an exam. No passing a ms under doors, but I wound up walking across campus to lunch with my #1 agent and giving her my prepared “elevator pitch.” I was invited to submit a proposal or ms at every meeting I scheduled except one and followed your advice about after-conference contacts. I’m working on multiple agents’ advice to build a fiction platform for my novels (all prior publications and two books in progress have been non-fiction), and that’s going V.E.R.Y. slowly, but conference contacts instilled a lot of confidence and hope! I highly recommend the experience!
Patti Jo Moore
Excellent checklist, Tamela – – thank you for sharing. 🙂
The conferences I’ve attended over the years have been priceless – – not only in terms of what I’ve learned at each one, but the lasting friendships formed. Such a blessing! 🙂
Thanks for the great advice, Tamela.
Lisa Larsen Hill
Just returned from my first BRMCWC and your post is an excellent list.
On the plane home, I wrote my top10 ten learnings and top 10 actions to follow up.
But rest was essential to let all that we experienced soak in.
Thank you for sharing. Will keep for after attending other conferences.
Great list, Tamela. Especially resting. Resting allows us to process what we’ve learned.