Your Post-Conference Strategy

Over 600 writers recently attended the annual ACFW conference, held this past weekend in Dallas. Many have gone home and are asking, “Now what?”

What do you do when you return from a writers conference? Tell in the comments below. Meanwhile I’ll share some thoughts.

Re-entry Blues

Coming down from the high of a retreat or a conference can be a jolt. Especially when the daily routines kick in. Make sure to avoid resenting the routine. Work, family, marriage, and other responsibilities have their priority.

Re-read Your Notes

A week or so after the conference pull out all the notes you took during the presentations. Even consider re-copying them into another notebook so that you can decipher your hieroglyphics while they still might be translatable.

Please don’t toss the material in the drawer to be forgotten. Even if your experience what disappointing in some way, there is gold in those notes.

The Advantage of Audio

If you spend time alone in the car or exercising, consider using some of that time to listen to the classes you took again. Or listen to the audio of the classes you missed.

Set Your Expectations

This one is key. If you got a “hit” at the conference with an editor or an agent make sure you truly grasp how much of a “hit” is was. If they said “send it to me” don’t run home and press the send button on your email. Make sure what you send is ready! You might have learned a few tricks that can make your manuscript that much better.

Just because an editor or an agent says “send it” doesn’t mean they are sitting at their desk in rapt anticipation of its arrival. Instead see their comment as an open door to approach them with your best work.

I had one writer beg me to become her agent because she knew she was going to be getting a contract right after the conference. She was wrong. The editor, in the hallway busily said, “send it to me” … nothing more. The writer thought she heard “I love it, I’m sending you a contract next week.” Don’t make that mistake.

But, if they said “send it.” Send it. You’d be amazed how many people never follow up on the opportunity I give them. It doesn’t mean a guarantee of success if I do see it, but at least I see it. If it is never sent, you can guarantee I’ll never see it… (!!!)

Your Turn

What are the things you do when you get home from a conference…besides the laundry?

18 Responses to Your Post-Conference Strategy

  1. Chris Storm September 21, 2015 at 5:19 am #

    Here’s one: Don’t toss all those business cards you collected. Add some new friends to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and stay connected and in the loop all year long.

  2. Jeanne Takenaka September 21, 2015 at 5:50 am #

    As a mom with two boys and a husband who travels, it’s easy to come home from conference and get caught up in real life family stuff. My goal this year is to continue to be purposeful in setting a daily appointment for writing time on my calendar so I can take suggestions I learned and use them.

    One other tip I would add is take a few minutes to write and send thank you notes to agents, editors, mentors, critiques and others you met with. It’s a courtesy-thing.

    • Morgan Tarpley September 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Yes, definitely great idea to write thank you or send emails to those who encouraged you and gave advice! I’ll be doing that this week too!

      And P.S. it was great to finally meet you there Jeanne!!

      • Morgan Tarpley September 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

        P.S.S. 🙂 Could y’all please tell me how to have my photo pop up by my name with my comments? Thanks!!

        • Steve Laube September 22, 2015 at 5:09 am #

          It is called a gravatar.

          But be careful to use a unique password because google has warned that the gravatar site may have been hacked.

          I have a seperate email address I use for signups like this (like newsletters) to prevent potential spammers from getting my private address.


          • Morgan Tarpley September 22, 2015 at 6:49 am #

            Thank you so much for this info and warning, Steve!! Much appreciated!

  3. Jackie Layton September 21, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    Hi Steve,

    I made a list while waiting for my plane. In past years, I think I responded too quickly to requests. This year I’m looking over my material one more time before hitting send.

    When the requests were made, I said a prayer of thanks. Now I’m praying for wisdom and grace before acting.

    Chris, I thought I’d make online contacts while watching the news or something so I can focus on the requests while closed up in my office.

    Jeanne, I love your idea of writing on my calendar times to write.

    Have a great day everybody!

  4. Tracey Solomon September 21, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    New contact follow up. I think it’s important to connect with a thank you for meetings or a note to virtually connect with those I had conversations with. I try to do this while the adrenaline is still flowing and while people still remember who they talked to;) Usually within the first 24 hours.

    *I scribble notes about meetings convos on the business cards I collect- so I can follow up.

  5. Janet Ann Collins September 21, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    I’m still listening to CDs from the Mount Hermon conference in my car. That conference was months ago, and, since I don’t have any long commutes, I’m only now listening to the last one. They not only remind me of what I learned and let me hear the talks I missed, they inspire me and help me feel connected with other writers again.

  6. Nick Kording September 21, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Love this post because it’s exactly what I was thinking… only mid-day Saturday at the conference. While I was excited about the interest in my manuscript this year (no longer writing about a redeemed demon), sometime after lunch, after the amazingly powerful worship, I sat alone and thought I want to send better than I have. Sure, I still love my story and characters but if I’m saying yes to God, I want it to be my best yes. So, I’m taking your advice and taking some time to sit with my story, some new ideas to make it better and just to hear more from God before sending it to the agents that requested my manuscript.

    Here’s a question I have. Should a writer touch base with the agents/editors and thank them and let them know they will be sending the requested materials, or just send them when the writer is ready?

    • Jessica Berg September 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

      I had the same question to, Nick, about thank you emails or just waiting until the manuscript is ready to send…

    • Steve Laube September 22, 2015 at 5:12 am #

      No need to tell an editor or agent that stuff is coming. We sort of assume that if we requested the info.

      But if you mention it in a thank you note, like others have mentioned, it is okay.


  7. Morgan Tarpley September 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    After attending the ACFW conference for the first time, I’m so pumped to get back to the re-write of my novel with a plan to have it completely finished, professionally edited, and polished, so I can pitch it at next year’s conference.

    I also want to do more research on agencies and publishing houses that I think would be interested in my novel/s. It’s interesting to have your perspectives change on who you think your ideal agent/publisher is when you meet them in person and they don’t seem as interested in your novel as you thought they might be. It just shows that I need to be more open-minded with where I think my novel fits. I’m trudging forward. 🙂

  8. Davalynn Spencer September 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    I’m grateful for new connections and enjoying – again – the ’round-the-table conversations with industry folk. Particularly those involving well-crafted proposals by questionable authors and stories of stilts and termites. Hawaii will forever have a different feel!

  9. Jenny Leo September 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Adding my voice to those who appreciate conference audios for later review. I’ve listened (and listened and listened!) to past workshops and lectures on audio while I’m driving or exercising. Topics that might have been a bit beyond me a few years ago now make sense as I’ve grown as a writer.

    I love writers conferences, but after days of absorbing writing and publishing talk through every pore, my favorite part of coming home is surrounding myself with people who could not care less if I ever write or publish a book. I like being reminded that there’s more to me than my writerliness.

  10. Peter DeHaan September 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    I’m still working on follow-up from my last conference. Unfortunately all the important tasks are done.

  11. Lyndie Blevins September 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Oh, if it were only laundry to do once back in the world of ‘normals’

    These are my top three things to do after a conference
    1. order the book(s) I discovered at the conference and weren’t able to buy.
    2. round up all those business cards and make connections with folks I met
    3. implement one thing I learned… from ACFW it would be Jeff Gerke’s advice – DON’T BE BORING!

  12. Cheryl Colwell August 15, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    I usually purchase the complete audio for each conference I attend and listen to the workshops during my travel home. Once home, I type out the highlights while listening to especially informative teachers and highlight what I intend to implement. If I implement one-tenth of what I heard, I would be a genius. 😀

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