Our Most Embarrassing Moments at a Writers Conference

Writers conferences are a great source of instruction, encouragement, and blessing to the writer, but they can also cause stress.  Writers know attending a conference can be crucial to their success.  They’re told that the agents and editors are the gatekeepers to publication and they usually have less than three minutes to get through the gate.

Shaking voices, trembling hands, and sweat-stained armpits prove writers are aware how  each encounter could fulfill or flounder publication dreams.

embarrassing moments

In the final countdown to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal April 11-12, 2014,  with Davis Bunn, the proverbial butterflies have begun their migration to registrants.  To relieve pressure with laughter, NCWA members decided to share our worst conference experiences.

 

 

Ocieanna


Ocieanna Fleiss
– An editor from a prominent Christian publisher told me to not be afraid to write a @#$% first draft. LOL! At my first writers conference EVER! I about lost it and the very sweet, conservative older lady sitting next to me almost fell off her chair.

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Roberta-Kehle

Roberta Kehle –  I used to  pick up our speakers at the airport, but often got lost going to the hotel, usually when they needed to go to the bathroom and were in misery.  Another time I was trying to get a Starbucks for an agent and had a minor parking lot mishap. They quit asking my pick-up help. Wonder why? Hmm, this might scare off attendees.

 

sonjaSonja Anderson – My most embarrassing moment related to a writing conference came after the conference. I had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an agent and an editor from the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Seattle. After I wrote a query letter to the female editor from a fancy New York publishing house, I thought I’d save time and cut and paste the letter for the male agent from Chicago.

Big mistake! Imagine my great grief and embarrassment when I looked at the letter more carefully (after hitting “send,” of course, to the male agent ), and saw that I never removed the line about hoping that the rest of her PREGNANCY went well!
Needless to say, I never heard back from that agent. Sigh.

 

LynnetteLynnette Bonner – At an NCWA conference several years ago, I sat in on a pitch session with a big-name agent. She liked what she heard and requested that I send her a proposal after the conference. Later that same day she was chatting with Jim Rubart.

I needed to talk to Jim about something so I approached and was standing off to one side as they chatted. Jim turned to me and in his gregarious way said, “Hey! How’s your day gone? Did anyone request your stuff?”

And I replied that yeah, “Actually she requested that I send her a proposal.”

To which the agent jolted back and gasped, “I didn’t request a proposal from YOU!”

Jim did a double-take between the two of us as I said, “Well, actually you did.” She then apologized profusely and admitted she remembered me. Needless to say, I never sent her a proposal.

 

Mindy HeadshotMindy Peltier – After hearing how volunteering at a conference can impact your ability to get published, I arranged to meet two editors at the airport. They were from the two Christian publishers I dreamed of writing for some day.  I’d rehearsed a line I thought was clever and would prove my passion and need for writers conferences.

Feeling brave as I deftly merged into I-5 rush hour traffic,  I said, “Writers conferences have become counterproductive for me. I’m writing less…

One editor didn’t realize the airspace was meant to be a dramatic pause before my brilliant punch line.

He began defending conferences and instructed me on my need to attend and appreciate them.  I didn’t want to interrupt.  I merged into the carpool lane. The editor in the back seat added to the defense.

Shocked, I was convinced the misunderstanding had crash-dummied my  publication dreams.  I figured my name would be passed around the editors’ circle, along with the guy who tried to pitch his book at the urinal.  I couldn’t even finish my sentence.

The punch line he missed was “… because the more conferences I go to, the worse my writing becomes.

I was trying to cleverly reveal how conferences were impacting my writing life.  I was learning about writing, but on a larger scale, I was understanding how much more I needed to learn about writing and the publishing industry.

I’ve relived that agonizing moment over and over since then, and even in my dreams, I crash before the punch line.

Every year I attend and volunteer at several  writers conferences, and I’ve even taught at a few. But, they’re still counterproductive for me, because the more writers conferences I attend, the worse my writing becomes.


If an embarrassing moment at a writers conference occurs, don’t worry, it won’t affect your publication dreams.  All of the above writers were published after their  blunders.

Brush it off and move on, but only after you send the story to us.  We’d love to use in a blog post next year.

 

TweetEmbarrassing conference moments didn’t hinder chance of publication.

TweetNCWA writers expose most embarrassing conference moments.

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Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference!

 

NCWA welcomes Edie Melson from The Write Conversation

 

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This time of year writing conferences are gearing up, the faculty has been chosen and the websites are humming, ready to take your reservations. So why attend a writer’s conference? Is there anything to be gained? I believe the answer is a resounding, YES.

Top Ten Reasons pm(James L. Rubart teaching at the 2013 Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference)

Personally, I’ve been attending large conferences for years. And as my experience level has increased so have the benefits from attending. Here are my top ten reasons to attend a writers conference this year.

TweetEdie Melsom’s top ten reasons to attend a writers conference this year.

 

10. Relationships. Writing is all about relationships – your relationship with the reader, with the editor and with other writers.

9. Loneliness. Writing is a lonely business. We need time to socialize with others who get this crazy passion we have with words.

8. Confirmation. We all face doubts as to whether or not we really are a writer. A conference is the best place to confirm that calling and receive support from our peers.

7. Misery loves company. If you have spent any time at all as a writer, you know all about rejection. It helps to hear other people talk about their experiences and realize we all face the same thing.

6. The classes. Where else can you spend hours at a stretch learning about all the different aspects of writing?

5. Late night brainstorming sessions. Many of us keep odd hours as writers, where else can you find others ready to share a cup of coffee and discuss an idea at 2am?

4. Meet your neighbor. Okay, I admit, this one’s personal for me. But I had to go to a writer’s conference to meet my writing buddy Vonda Skelton – who lives less than 3 minutes away!

3. Hang out with the stars. We all have writers we admire and a conference where they are on staff is the perfect place to get to know them.

2. Sharpen that pitch. If you want to pitch an idea, a conference is the perfect place to try it out on other professionals before you send it to the editor.

1. Network, Network, Network. Like I said, writing is all about relationships and its human nature for an editor to prefer someone he’s met to someone he doesn’t know.

What conferences have you enjoyed the most?

(Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference will take place on April 11-12, 2014 at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. Click here for details.)

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

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This post first appeared March 7, 2011 on The Write Conversation. Used by kind permission.

Edie Melson has years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer and the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Visit her website for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com and look for her best-selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, as well as her devotional, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.