I attended my first writer’s conference in May 2017 and loved every minute! Post-conference, my mind was full of ideas, prompts, apps, important do’s and don’ts and a To-Do list ten miles long.
However, the adrenaline and excitement of Where do I begin! waned to the wariness of Where. Do. I. Begin?
Now, I reflect back on ten things I have learned in the six months or so since that awesome conference experience.
It is easy to get as overwhelmed with all of the post conference work. So, as you are praying about which conference(s) you’ll attend this year, I hope that you will consider some of the lessons I’ve learned and embraced since attending my first conference. While there was considerable pre-conference work, I was staggered by the post-conference work necessary to take my work to the next level. And I am serious about getting to the next level.
Do not be overwhelmed. Embrace, soak it all in and then pray. And if you are attending your fiftieth conference this year, I’d love to hear about lessons you have learned after the post-conference dust settles!
1. SEEK HIM – I admit, as a new writer seeking new opportunities, I also suffer from, “But I want to publish an article now.” But, I know better than to take any opportunity before I have a chance to be prayerful about it. I once had the opportunity to write a blog for an established site and turned it down because, though a Christian Site, I felt powerfully directed away from the site rather than toward it. Oh, it was painful, but the perfect time to submit, edit, change, query, propose, and attend is already figured out. Just Ask Him.
2. Go for free! - If you are on a budget, go for the free versions of all the apps and programs recommended, until you understand what you need to make your ministry grow. I quickly found myself in the “Death by $20 per month” club. Now, I start with the free versions and prayerfully consider which resource is the best investment.
3. Do not dictate edits to others - My first email asked friends to edit a chapter, but came with a long list of don’ts, like, “I love the name of the town so don’t change that…” Thankfully, I did not send it. I now choose to appreciate the time they spent in responding and prayerfully consider their changes, whether they respond with heavy red ink or smiley face emoticons.
4. Create a Schedule – I am more likely to keep a reasonable pace (see #5), if I have a schedule. Based on my long term and short term goals, I create a schedule to include time for creating memes, writing blog posts for my own page,
www.kassfogle.com, writing articles for online and hardcopy publishing & contests, and of course, writing for my WIP, Ruth’s Garden. Without question, I am more productive when I make a schedule.
5. Watch the pace - Unless you are working under a publisher’s or agent’s deadline, you likely do not have to publish on an exact date. Yes, it’s important to create and stick to a schedule (see #4), but it is also important not to post junk. I am realistic enough to know there are not thousands of subscribers (yet!) all wondering where in the world my blog post is if I haven’t posted by noon on Sunday. My pace is accelerating with experience.
6. Pay attention to the aesthetics - My website is evolving. I am moving to clean lines and color-wheel friendly colors. I’ve learned to use the mobile “Page Layout Optimizer” button to ensure that everything lines up perfectly both on desktop and for my mobile users. I’ve been caught more than once with a link working just fine in developer mode but not after publication. Check and recheck links and layout on both desktop and mobile devices.
7. YES, I need A PLATFORM - While you may be rolling your eyes at another suggestion to build your platform, it is necessary. I am not prostituting my faith wrapped in a social media package, I am inviting people into my space so I can share my love for Christ. I am inviting people to examine my quirks so we can laugh at them together. I am creating a space where we can share experiences and I can show how God’s love have given me purpose. I get to engage people into the kind of stories I want to write by what I post, the questions I pose and the pictures I create.
8. Every post, like and share counts and is discoverable - College coaches advise high school recruits not to like, share, post or retweet anything they would not show their grandma, as coaches are looking for student-athletes with values similar to their own. Similarly, I try to pass on replying to posts that start with, “I hope this doesn’t start a war, but…”, or “I normally don’t post stuff like this, but…”. I don’t have to give up my first amendment rights, but, at least as a new author, I am very conscious of every click, like, share and post. And my guess is agents and publishers are as well.
9. Do the research - Very simply, I try not to post a question that can be very easily researched on the internet. While seasoned writers are very patient and gracious, I try to make sure I have done my due diligence before posting my question. DO pose those questions you've been wrestling with. DO pose questions as research for your book. But I try to refrain from posting simple questions in my author groups where the answers are found in a ninety second internet search.
10. Build a support network. In six months, I have a strong network of folks who share my posts and whose posts I share. We pray for one another and guest blog for each other. It has helped me build a solid base for my platform, but more importantly, it has introduced me to the most genuine, friendly, Jesus-seeking people in the industry.
These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned since taking on all the advice and recommendations from my conference. And while it is not advice for everyone, it reflects how I have evolved in a few short months. It also tells me how much more there is to learn! This has been my experience – what would you add? What have you learned since your last conference?
Kass Fogle is a Contemporary Christian Author, Speaker and Blogger who lives with her husband and two teenaged children in South-Central Illinois.
She is working on her first novel, Ruth's Garden and when she is not working the day job you can find her at the local coffee house writing, at home baking, hanging out with family or causing trouble with her tight group of girlfriends. Kass is also a raging Football Mom.
You can follow Kass on twitter @kassfogle, visit her website (and subscribe to the blog!) at kassfogle.com (see the footer of the page) or join her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/kassfogleauthor/ She'd be honored if you stopped by!
Kass would love to pray for you. Send a prayer request at any time by emailing email@example.com Subscribe to her webpage for prayers, fun writing activities and periodic contests! You can visit her webpage at https://www.kassfogle.com/