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Archive for October, 2016

Writers’ Conferences

Writer’s Conferences

copyright by Sherry Garland 2016

I just returned from a SCBWI Conference in Houston. I met people who were old pros at it, and many who were beginners who had never attended before.

Seeing the excitement and fear in the faces of the uninitiated brought back pleasant memories of my first writers’ conference in 1979. It was sponsored by Rice University in Houston, TX. It happened to fall on my birthday, so myIMG_0249 husband paid for the fee as a gift. I can truly say this conference changed my life. I had been writing a mega “family saga” historical novel and hadn’t a clue how to sell it. I asked questions and spoke to editors and agents without having any notion of how totally awful the questions were.  I cringe when I think of them now.

But I learned so much. And I also found out about a local novelists’ group that I joined. Those folks spurred me to attend another big conference two years later where I met an editor and ended up selling my first novel. Definitely NOT the mega family saga which is still in a drawer being eaten by mildew.

I’m an introverted, shy person by nature, so it has always been difficult for me to just walk up to an editor or agent and talk. At one conference, my husband was attending the welcome party with me. He strolled up to an editor and started singing my praises to her, then he dragged me over to her for introductions. She was with Scholastic, a wonderful, warm person. This encounter resulted in me selling five picture books and two Dear America novels to Scholastic

At one conference I met an editor while waiting for the elevator. She said she would like to see anything I had. A few days later I called her and pitched a manuscript. She asked me to read the manuscript (a picture book) over the phone, then made an instant offer.

If you are considering attending a writers’ conference, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you are a beginner and don’t know where to turn. People at conferences all have something in common — they love writing. They like to talk and answer questions. It could be the best investment you ever make.

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