Four Keys to Your Conference Preparation By W. Terry Whalin

NCWA blog welcomes Terry Whalin! Terry will be teaching at NCWA’s Renewal Conference in May. See end of post for links.


Terry Whalin picThis month, I’m traveling to the Florida Christian Writers Conference and I look forward to it. I’ve been revising and updating my workshop on book proposal creation, “Editors Read Proposals Not Manuscripts.” I’ve been sorting through my 20+ years in publishing and preparing which stories to tell during my class.

I love writers’ conferences. It’s a grand idea haven to talk shop and learn from other writers. If you want to succeed in the writing business, I’ve got four keys to enhance your conference experience:

1.  Take daily time to pray about the various people you will meet and the ideas you will discuss. Ask the Lord to guide you through each detail of the conference such as who you will sit with at the opening meeting or where you will sit at each meal and what will be discussed. Ask for God to give you divine appointments. These encounters will be far beyond anything that you could have orchestrated or planned. Be looking for the Lord’s handiwork at the conference.

Some people call those divine appointments or “a pack your bags experience.” That means if you had to leave the conference early for some reason, then you would have had such a great experience with the greatest personal benefit. Through prayer you will come to the conference full of expectation and a spiritual sensitivity that God will work while you are on the conference grounds.

2.  The second way is to come prepared to meet others and start new relationships. As a part of your preparation, create some business cards and be prepared to give them out to everyone you meet—but don’t make it a one way exchange. When you give a business card, make sure you receive a business card. Double check your business card to see if it contains your complete information: name, mailing address, phone number and email address.  It’s surprising how many participants do not create a simple business card—even if you buy blank cards at an office supply place and print your own. Bring plenty of copies of your business card. It is frustrating to the other person when someone says they only brought a few cards and have given them out. Writing is a solitary occupation and we need each other. You will form new and lasting friendships at the conference if you come prepared for it.

3.  The third key for your conference experience is to study the background for the various faculty members and get familiar with their different roles. Publishing is constantly changing. You want to know who you are meeting and their role. For example, I changed roles last year and became an acquisitions editor at a New York based publisher. Your familiarity with the different faculty will help you form deeper relationships during the conference. I believe your time in preparation will be rewarded.

4.  The final key for your conference experience is to come with the right heart attitude. Many writers come to their first conference expecting to sell their book manuscript or magazine article. Yes, there will be some selling during the conference. A much more central part of every writer’s conference is where individuals learn new aspects of publishing and take great strides of personal growth. Come with expectations and a willingness to learn and grow. With the right heart attitude, I’m convinced that you will not be disappointed but your expectations will actually be exceeded.

How can I say that expectations will be exceeded? Because I know each member of the faculty is a Christian and a person who is filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I love the verse in Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

Today God is preparing for you the people and lives that will be touched during the time we are together. I will be coming with high expectations and anticipations. I’ve not ever been disappointed in the past.

See you soon at the conference!


This post appeared January 6, 2013 on The Writing Life. Re-posted by kind permission. Terry will be conducting the workshop: “Editors Read Through Book Proposals, NOT Manuscripts”  at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. Click here for the main conference page. Hope to see you there!

W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk–as an editor and a writer. He worked as a magazine editor and his magazine work has appeared in more than 50 publications and he’s written more than 60 books for traditional publishers. A book acquisitions editor for several publishers and a former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Whether you are unsure how to start on the path to publication or want to take your publishing career to the next level, Terry’s newest book, JUMPSTART YOUR PUBLISHING DREAMS, INSIDER SECRETS TO SKYROCKET YOUR SUCCESS is packed with insight. Also Terry is the author of the bestselling book, BOOK PROPOSALS THAT SELL, 21 SECRETS TO SPEED YOUR SUCCESS. Plus he’s recently launched a 12 lesson online course on proposal creation, Write A Book Proposal. At the Florida Christian Writers, he will be teaching a one hour workshop, Editors Read Proposals Not Manuscripts.


2 thoughts on “Four Keys to Your Conference Preparation By W. Terry Whalin

  1. Thanks for sharing your advice, Terry. I know that personally my best conference experiences have been when I come willing to listen to other writers and not when I go expecting to receive something myself.


  2. Pingback: Going to the NCWA Renewal Conference?? | Northwest Christian Writers Association

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