When writers ask me what’s the best thing they can do for their writing careers and ambitions, I say just like my early writing teacher Kathryn Fanning did: Attend writer’s conferences. Here are a few things I gained from attending writer’s conferences that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else:
- At the first conference I attended, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I got the idea in a breakout session to write the chapters in my nonfiction book so that they could be easily shaped into magazine articles. This proved to bring about ten sales to magazines of chapters from my first and second books.
- At a conference in Chicago, I had a one-on-one with an editor who read and critiqued my first chapter of HomeLife: The Key to Your Child’s Success in School. She said, “Cheri, this is really good content. But what you need to do if you want parents to read it is to picture a mom across the table from you. Then in the same conversational tone that you’d share these keys with her, write in that style.” What great advice! Writing in a conversational style (instead of a stiff, academic way) was some of the best advice I ever got. And I applied it to that first book and all those that followed.
- I also met my first publisher and two weeks later was sent my first book contract at a writer’s conference. That was a great conference!
- A few years later when my first two books were published, I was sent standard contracts and was oh, so happy to sign them! However, as the sales passed 10,000, 25,000 and then 50,000, I didn’t get one penny more than the 10% royalty the contract said. I began to realize that the janitor at the company was probably making more than I was. At a writer’s conference in Tulsa I met Marjorie Holmes, a truly great author who did the keynote addresses. She took me aside after I’d given her a copy of HomeLife and my second book, Motivating Your Kids From Crayons to Career as a gift for her daughter. Marjorie said, “Cheri, I have a feeling that you’ve been taken to the cleaners on the contract for these books. What you need is an agent—and a sliding scale of royalties.” I had no idea what a sliding scale of royalties was but she explained when we talked after the conference. “Be looking for an agent,” she encouraged me. I had no idea where to find an agent, but at a Focus on the Family author dinner two years later, I met one and a few weeks later signed with his agency. Having representation made all the difference in my writing career for years to come.
Just like I found, there are lots of things you’ll gain at our upcoming conference, WriterCon, being held September 4th – 6th at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
You’ll get insights that every writer today needs to know, meet industry professionals, and learn the craft and business of writing, , how to pitch your book and get an agent to read your manuscript how to promote your book—and so much more. Go to WriterCon.org and register. I’ll be teaching three sessions, and will look forward to seeing you there!