20 Lessons Learned from Writers Conferences

At my first writers conference nine years ago, I was too shy. I was hesitant to make private appointments with faculty or venture away from my family to meet other writers. We only discovered the conference a week before it began, so I didn’t know what to expect. All that shyness and hesitancy disappeared the next year, and I talked to nearly every faculty member I could about a book idea I had. I discovered they were people too (of course), and their feedback was encouraging.

This week I embark on another adventure—the Florida Christian Writers Conference—and I have the privilege of attending as a faculty member. I can’t wait to meet more writers and hear why they started writing and what they are working on. I will take appointments to see who wants to write for Refresh and what their ideas are. I even get to teach about how to make Scripture come alive in books and articles, devotions and blog posts. A grand adventure indeed.

If you’re a writer and headed to your first writers conference this year, you may not know what to expect. Or perhaps you’re a veteran, and this time you will pitch a book or an idea to an editor or agent. I hope you won’t let nerves get the best of you. There is too much to miss out on to do that. Here are some valuable things I’ve learned from my adventures.  You never know how God is going to work!

20 Lessons Learned from Writers Conferences:

1.       Some of the people you meet may become your lifelong friends.

2.      An editor who is sitting next to you in a class may become your publisher. (This happened to a friend!)

3.      Private appointments are not as scary as some may think—faculty members are usually rooting for the conferees.

4.      Even if the publisher you want says no, God knows who will say yes.

5.      Self-publishing is a good back up plan, but doing your homework on traditional publishers pays off. Try that route first (as God leads).

6.      After you’ve done one book proposal, the others are easier.

7.      Think about some ways you can build your platform—major publishers will be interested in that.  

8.      Every blog post, article, contest, and social media post takes you a step closer to having the platform you want. So don’t quit early.

9.      It can take 5 years to build a platform.

10.   Faithfully blogging and writing—even when you think only a few people see it—can bring you blessings you never expected.

11.    The lunch line is an excuse to meet people.

12.   If there’s a chance to dress in costume at a conference, take it! The fellowship, laughs, and pictures will be worth it.

13.   It’s best to go prepared with business cards, a One Sheet, and sample writing. But if you discover the conference right before it happens, just let the fun and knowledge soak in and be ready for the next one.

14.   Ask God to help you meet just the right people. It’s amazing how many times I “randomly” sat next to someone at a meal and the person wrote the same genre or was interested in the same things I was. We had a lot to talk about.

15.   Take snacks with you if you’re a picky eater. (It’s a good back up plan.)

16.   Some shoes are pretty, but if they’re not made for walking, leave them at home. And don’t forget a jacket or sweater for air-conditioned buildings.

17.   See the whole experience as a time to be refreshed in your relationship with God and in your writing journey (if you go to a Christian conference). Keep your spiritual ears open for God’s encouragement and direction.

18.   Like my dad says, if there are many obstacles along the way, that means God has something really good in store for you.  

19.   The information, tips, and instruction you gain at conferences can be invaluable. They are likely to shape your writing career.

20.  The connections you make with other writers and the faculty can supply year-round encouragement and help in your writing journey.

If you’ve been to a conference, what lessons have you learned? If you’ve never been, which lesson above would make you want to go to one? Tell me in the comments below!

Check out my interview with Bethany Jett for the Florida Christian Writers Conference. We had a great time talking about books, conferences, basketball, and some Once Upon a Time. Also on the FCWC blog is my guest post called Finding Your Tribe.


© Copyright 2017 by Katy Kauffman


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writers conferences, publishing tips, building a platform, 20 Lessons Learned from Writers Conferences, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Comments (8)

  • anon

    Katy, I wish I could have read this post a few years ago when I attended my first writer's conference. I agree with each one of your lessons learned. As a matter of fact, I would not even know you if I hadn't attended Blue Ridge. And now I have written a guest blog here and have had the privilege of writing for Refresh! 
    Even though it may seem scary at first, I encourage every writer to attend conferences. They are invaluable. 
    Thanks for your continued encouragement and wisdom to other writers. May the Lord bless you greatly.

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Beckie, I am so glad we met last year. Thank you for your sweet words and for encouraging other writers to go to a conference. Gid bless you too and your dreams and writng!

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Katy, I remember the first conference I went to at Blue Ridge - I didn't know anyone and I was scared that I'd be all alone. But, I shared a shuttle from the airport with another lady going to the conference, and we became life-long friends. And I saw how God specifically directed "divine appointments" all week. I came away both years at Blue Ridge with new friends and kindred spirits. I'm so glad I didn't let my fears and insecurities keep me away. Thanks for a great post! I wish I had read this before my first conference.

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    I love how God brings people together at conferences. It seems like you're not expecting it, and then you get to meet just the right person at just the right time. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad we're writing friends, Crickett!

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    These are great tips! I definitely agree with talking to as many people as possible--I am so thankful for the friendships I made at Blue Ridge!
    Heather Bock

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you, Heather! I am glad we became friends through the Blue Ridge conference. 

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Great article Katy, I loved all your statement. I look forward to giving you a hug at BRMCWC. 

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Yes! Hugs are in order. Thank you for your comment, Cherrilynn.

    Feb 20, 2017

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The Scrapbooked Bible Study: A Blog by Katy Kauffman

Award-Winning Author, Editor, Bible Teacher

An editor for Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Katy Kauffman is also a Bible study author who loves to write about the treasures of Scripture. Her Bible studies focus on winning life's spiritual battles, and her blog shares snippets of "scrapbooked" encouragement. Learn more about The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and follow Katy's blog to receive weekly posts. 


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