Welcome to my wing of the ACFW conference tour. Here is a link to the conference page:
I can't wait to see you in Minneapolis, and meet some of you for the first time! Be sure and come up to introduce yourselves.
I'm going to take this opportunity to share some conference experiences I've had (some REALLY EMBARRASSING and funny). That will hopefully ease your jitters, especially if you are a first time conference goer.
My first conference, I went with my own agenda. I felt I had to fill every minute with activity. And by the second day, I was SO tired and had sensory overload. Brain felt like a soppy sponge that couldn't hold another drop of water.
So I recommend you leave time for rest. Yes, I know how much money you're spending to go. I also know you can purchase the CD afterward if you happen to miss a workshop. Hit the gym. Take a nap. Lounge by the pool. Sit in the lobby and talk to people, especially someone from ACFW that you don't already know.
Don't know anyone? Join the club. Seriously, look around and ask the Lord to highlight someone who's feeling just as out of sorts as you. No matter how brave we look on the outside, many ACFWrs are terrified and anxious on the inside. Some have never met published authors before, or editors, agents or other industry professionals.
Speaking of....it's easy for us to get stars in our eyes. But remember, they're people too. They need naps. Rest. Downtime. Respect that if you approach an agent or editor and they seem scattered or tired or rushed. Like you, they're human. BUT, they came there for you. They're looking for new talent. So don't be afraid to talk to them if you see one. They don't have sharper teeth than the rest of us. Honest, even if you don't have a book to pitch, ask them about their hobbies or what kind of books they love to read during their downtime. You might find things you have in common. And the pressure will be off of both of you the moment they realize you're not trying to pitch. More often than not, the conversation will veer toward your writing, but let them take that lead. No matter what their level of interest in your work, thank them for their input.
Bring business cards and a One Sheet. But....never, I repeat, never put your room key in the same neck pouch slot as your business cards. I accidentally (PROMISE!) handed a MALE AND VERY MARRIED industry professional my room key at the end of a pitch session rather than my business card and didn't figure it out until much later. He'd figured it was a mistake and turned in my key to the desk, thank goodness. I didn't want to come out of my room for DAYS after that. But, it's something to laugh about now.
Speaking of coming out of rooms...every year I hear of conference goers who are so terrified to be in a crowd or so nervous, they cancel their appointments and stay in their rooms and don't come out the entire conference. I've heard of people throwing up in the bathroom before their pitches. If this is you, you're not alone. But don't waste your money or the opportunities by letting fear get the best of you. Head to the prayer room or pull someone aside and ask them to pray for you. I am always willing to pray for anyone at the conference and in fact that is the main way I volunteer.
Speaking of volonteering...DO IT! :-) Anyone can volunteer, even first timers. It is a great way to meet people and form friendships. Fine someplace to help. Or be on the lookout for someone who looks on the fringes or lonely. Pull them into your group if you are "known" at ACFW. Be sensitive to others and especially to first timers.
Leave God room to work. Don't fill your schedule up too much. Go trusting that God has His agenda for you and be obedient and receptive to that. His agenda is much better than ours. Ask and trust Him to set up divine appointments for you.
Go expecting to come back spiritually refreshed. If you've never been to an ACFW conference, boy are you in for a treat. God has great things in store for you. He knows the sacrifices of time and money and time away from your families that many of you are making to be able to go. But He will honor that.
Lastly, I'd like to offer some of the best conference advice I've ever received:
Go praying like breathing.
Go with a heart to serve others.
And I'd add to that:
Give God's agenda more attention than your own.
Okay now, so let me turn the tables, what is the best conference advice you've heard?
Come on folks...talk away!