My favorite accessory is a microphone. I can dominate a conversation at the family table better than your most obnoxious cousin. And my friends will testify that I’m never at a loss for a few hundred words. But, the first time I walked into a coffee break at a writers’ conference I stuck to the back wall like the last sock in the dryer.
I knew every other writer, editor, agent, and member of the wait staff had something more important to do than talk to me. You may have had that same experience. Or, you may have walked into the dining room and assumed the editor from Big Publishing House was sitting alone at a table because she wanted some down time.
No. The editor came to this conference hoping to meet and engage some nice people who happen to be writers. She is hoping someone will make it worth the time she sacrificed to travel all this way instead of attending her son’s soccer game this weekend or catching up that mound of laundry in the basement. In other words, she is just like you.
A few years ago, I sat at breakfast with an editor from Harvest House. I knew he didn’t attend many conferences, and he had been in the business a long time. He was a wealth of information and education. Yet, I had no idea how to glean from him. We just kept chatting about life, but I felt like my One Big Chance was melting away. Finally, I just told him the truth. “I know I’ll never get this kind of chance again, and I feel like I’m blowing it. I don’t even know what to ask you.”
He was so kind. He pulled a card from his pocket and said, “Here is my contact information. Any time you think of something you want to ask me, get in touch.” Just like that. A real person exchanging contact information. I have seen him a couple more times at conferences, and I have followed his blog for several years. I have asked him some questions, and he has given me some valuable answers.
The most important thing he taught me, though, was to stop hugging the back wall. Two years later, I stood in the lunch line at a conference with an acquisitions editor. She was chatting with someone behind us about the weather. Yes, the weather. Now, I know how to talk weather. So, I jumped into their conversation as if I had been invited. It was a short chat. We didn’t even exchange cards. But it sparked an eventual connection with her publishing house. This summer, they will release my third novel.
And that is how a writers’ conference is different than elementary school. At the conference, it is a good idea to talk in line.
Kathy Nickerson is an author, speaker, and eternal optimist. She writes about the struggles of life from a perspective of one who believes that all things will ultimately work together for good for those who love God.
Her writing credits include magazines such as Discipleship Journal, Angels on Earth, Focus on the Family, Proto, and Kyria.com. Several of her stories have appeared in collected works by Bethany House and Guideposts Books. Her debut novel, Thirty Days to Glory, was released by CrossRiver Media in 2013. Her most recent novel is The Secret of Serendipity, released this month.
You can learn more about Kathy’s writing and her reputation as an Eternal Optimist as well as sign up for her free newsletter and get a copy of Three Secrets to a Happy Life on her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
About Kathy’s newest book, The Secret of Serendipity:
Kara Jane Bryant is planning a protest against her family’s move from the city to the country in this middle-grade novel for girls or those who are still young at heart. But she did not plan on meeting the mysterious Mrs. Kirk or discovering the Secret of Serendipity. And that, of course, changes everything.