Monday, September 28, 2009

ACFW Conference 2009 - final thoughts

So it's been about a week since the conference. In some ways, it seems like longer and in others, it seems like just yesterday I was arriving at the Marriott hotel. But one thing is sure - I'll remember it forever. Overall, the ACFW conference was more than I hoped it would be. And that's saying a lot, because I expected it to be fabulous!

For those of you who are considering attending next year's ACFW conference (it's in Indianapolis - yay!), especially if it will be your first time, I've posted a few thoughts about things I wish I had done differently. Things I WILL be doing differently next year. Hopefully they'll help as you start planning.

Things I will do next year:

1. Take a later flight. It was great to get there early and everything, but getting up at 2:00 AM in order to make my flight is not something I'll do again. Especially because I was so tired I missed out on some meetings I really wanted to attend. But, oh yeah! This is a non-issue since I'll be driving next year. Woot!

2. Pack lighter. Not that I packed a ton of extra clothes, but I'll definitely be smarter about packing. The most important thing is to save some room for those books you'll be bringing home. Not just the ones you purchase from the bookstore, but the FREE ones you'll get (yes, there are great freebie books!). I also needed additional room for my tote bag and the portfolio binder I received at registration.

3. Take more pictures. Seriously, why even bring my camera if I'm not going to fill up the memory card? I took about a dozen pictures. That's it! Yes, I got a few great shots of my friends, but I'm now kicking myself for not snapping photos of the book signing, the workshop leaders, worship time, the authors I adore, Debbie Macomber...Argh! I'm so lame.

Next year, I am determined to fill up that card!

4. Schedule more appointments. I didn't know this until, like, Saturday, but you can schedule additional appointments with editors and agents if they are available. I was thankful I got the two I signed up for on my registration form, but if I would have known, I probably would have asked for a couple more. It can't hurt to try, and who knows? It might just end up being THE ONE I've been hoping for.

5. Be more assertive. I was actually proud of myself. I thought my shyness might overpower me at the conference, but I did ok. I talked to people I didn't know and tried to look self-assured, even when my knees were knocking. But I still held way back when it came to agents and editors. I knew they didn't want to be bothered...especially by me! But watching other authors, and hearing stories of how their impromtu pitch landed them a request, makes me think I need to step out of my comfort zone and assert myself. This one will NOT be easy. But it's one of my goals for next year.

6. Volunteer! OK, I volunteered this year, too. But I'm so glad I did! It helped me to meet people right away and gave me something to do while I waited for my room. Plus, it was the least I could do to give back to this wonderful organization. Oh - and I also got a really cool writers clock out of it. :-)

I'm already counting down the weeks until next year's conference. Yes, it really was that fabulous.

Here's hoping you'll be there, too!


Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, volunteering is key. I met so many more people that way. :)

Dara said...

Ok, that's it--I'm so going to it next year. I mean, it's only a 2 hour drive--that's closer than it is to visit my parents!

I'm not sure my novel will be complete enough next year for me to have any agent pitching appointments. The thought of pitching makes me a little queasy, simply because I get tongue tied so easily! But it's a whole year away so I don't have to think about that now :P

I already know what I'm asking for for my birthday come the first of November--membership to ACFW. :)

Lynda Schab said...

I really encourage you to go, Dara! And a lot of people don't pitch at all. They just go to make connections and learn a ton. It eases the pressure by knowing you won't have to pitch anything. Then again, who would want to pass up that opportunity? :-)
You can do it! Looking forward to seeing you there next year!