Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An open letter for ACFW.

All right, this is an open letter to anyone who's been to ACFW, or any other writer's conference.

Tell me your advice, any and every thought.

I'm nervous, but not crazy 'breathe into a bag' nervous.

Tell me anything from how much sleep I'll be getting,  how fancy to make the one sheet, to what not to worry about to where to go for breaky.




  1. The days after the conference officially begins (so, Saturday and Sunday...and I think Monday too), breakfast (I'm assuming that's what breaky is??) is served in the ballroom where the other meals are served.

    Don't plan on a lot of sleep if your bigger priority is seeing other people. But if you are a I-need-my-sleep-or-I'm-a-total-grouch type of person, then you'll probably need to give yourself a bedtime! Because there are so many people to meet and talk with that you'll want to spend as much time as possible chatting away. I'd say I got about 6 hours of sleep a night.

    Make sure the one sheet has the right information. Don't crowd it. Try to make it visually appealing. I outsourced mine because I'm horrible at visual design. Angie Dicken did a really good job for fairly cheap (I think she's charging $40 now).

    Overall, the thing I keep reminding myself is that God is in control. I can't mess up his plan for me. So if a pitch doesn't go the way I wanted, I won't sit there and obsess about the fact that I just messed up my future in publishing. Prepare as best you can but know that things happen, and you just have to learn from them. :)

    Hope that helps! I've only been once myself, but it changed my life. Seriously.

  2. Thank you!!
    I also outsourced my one sheet, and I might owe them a cheesecake!
    Two superbly creative siblings at church are all over it! One designed the church logo that is one the gym floor. I figure if she can make a gym floor pretty, I am sailing!
    And yes, God is in control. I'd never attempt this if He wasn't.

    I am SO looking forward to seeing you again!

  3. For what it's worth -

    1) You're there to learn about the business of writing, from all aspects - publishers to writers. Don't narrow-focus so much that you miss the insights you'll need later.

    2) This will not make or break your career.

    3) In one-on-ones, focus on how your book can benefit the agent or editor to whom you're speaking. Don't focus on the 'cause', even though it's a worthy one. Causes impress, but a good story sells.

    4) When your five minutes are over, say goodbye, shake hands firmly, and DO NOT LOOK OR TURN BACK.

    5) Everyone you speak with 'on business' - get their card, and send them a thank-you note. By postal mail, not an email. Don't re-introduce your book. Just name, thanks, bye.

    6) At the end of each evening, kneel and give thanks for the day. Good or bad, you got to live it, and to live part of the dream. You've already made it.


    1. Thank you! You always give excellent advice!

  4. Get to know other people, regardless of where they fall on the publishing success ladder.

    1. A wise word to anyone, for any occasion, thank you, Sally.

  5. So you are going to AFCW, Jennifer? Congrats! There'll probably be other Books and Such community folks there, so I'm sure that'll be fun. (Make sure to bring enough chocolate and cheesecake for everyone!)

    Some advice:

    * See if you can find other bloggers there: I don't mean just writers who have blogs, but also those who blog about the industry itself. This can help with getting guest-bloggers for M.W.F., and / or provide insight into the industry that might make for cool blogs for either that site or this blog. Also, one way to look at industry bloggers is that they are a "parallel tier" of news and community-building compared to what publishers and agents themselves do. In many ways, they have their own unique audiences who don't engage with the publishers and agents themselves.

    * The after-party stuff is one of the more fascinating, and important, parts of any meeting like this. Try to think of something that you would like to do yourself while there (demonstrations of your Navajo jewelry and talk about how it is made, etc.) that either relates to your book, the industry, or just something that you find fun. You're one of the more sociable folks over at Books and Such, so I figured it might be better than just joining someone elses' after-party thing. (Not that there is anything wrong with that).

    * Have fun! (Seriously, so many folks forget this when going to AFCW or other similar things).

    1. Thank you , Larry, and yes, the "after party" connections are very important. Making friends of all stripes is a great part of any gathering.

  6. You've got some superb comments here. I thot I was prepared, but not this wisely prepared, for my 1st time. In between somehow a lot of good info. and rubbing shoulders rubs in and thankfully we find a lot more than we did--but still keep gathering like squirrels for winter. You're going to have a wonderful time and make adequate unforgettable impact. Enjoy!

    1. Thank you, Dee!!! I am going to be very busy getting my ducks in a row!

  7. Breathe.
    You have friends waiting for you -- the ones you know about and the ones you haven't met yet. (And yes, I realize you haven't met some of the ones you know about ... okay, that's getting confusing.)
    Do what you can, but don't plan on doing it all.
    And your writing life doesn't rise or fall on your 15 minute appointments.
    One more thing: Check out the MBT book on attending writers conferences. Lots of info there!

  8. I am SO thankful to have friends waiting who will hold my hand and/or pay bail.

    I'm looking for that book...can't seem to find it.