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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ACFW Conference Blog Tour: Success Stories

This is the second of my two blog posts I'll be sharing as part of the ACFW Blog Tour promoting the upcoming national conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, in September this year.

Today, I'm sharing about success stories that have resulted from connections I've made at the various conferences over the years.

One of the first pieces of advice you'll hear when you get started in a professional writing career is, "Attend a conference." This is a common recommendation, and an accurate one. In this industry (like so many others), it's 50% what you know and 50% who you know. You can't meet new people if you don't get out there and attend conferences or events where you can network.

For me, the majority of my success in this business came as a direct result of attending a conference:
  • ACFW Houston 2003 - Jim Peterson: I met his wife, Tracie, in 2002, and I chatted with him this year about my story idea. He was intrigued, so I officially pitched my book to him in 2004. That led to a request for a proposal. Next year in Nashville 2005, he requested the full manuscript. And in 2006, I received the amazing news that my first novel had sold!
  • ACFW Denver 2004 - Stuart Vaughn Stockton: It might have taken us 3 years, but this was the year it all began. In 2007, we married, and in 2009, we had our first daughter. But during that 3-year span, our relationship grew and blossomed thanks to many members of ACFW and the conference itself which provided us a mutual location where we could see each other once a year. We lived 2000 miles apart, so ACFW let us meet face-to-face. IM and email took care of the rest. :)
  • ACFW Nashville 2005 - Kim Moore: This meeting hasn't led to a contract, but Kim is such a sweet lady and a lot of fun. Our conversations have led to requests for proposals, and Kim loves my writing. One of these days, we might establish a professional relationship in addition to our friendship.
  • ACFW Dallas 2006 - JoAnne Simmons: This was the year I received my first contract, but it was also the year Jim and Tracie Peterson stepped down as acquisitions editors of Heartsong. JoAnne took over, and I met her this year. She has now been my editor for going on 4 years, and I love her to pieces. The team at Barbour is top-notch and it's a pleasure working with them.
  • ACFW Dallas 2007 - Jessica Barnes: Again, our appointments haven't led to a contract yet, but they have led to requests for manuscripts and strong interest. Every little bit helps. It's getting my name out there.
  • ACFW Minneapolis 2008 - Sandra Bishop: Although I officially met her at CCWC in May, we had an actual meeting to discuss agent representation at this conference. I submitted some of my work to her, and it piqued her interest. This year, 2010, we're finally to the point of talking seriously, but we haven't inked a deal at this time.
  • Generic meetings with Karen Ball, Terry Burns, Rachelle Gardner, Chip MacGregor, Steve Laube, Liz Curtis Higgs, James Scott Bell, Janet Kobobel Grant, Rebecca Germany, Terry Whalin, Ted Dekker, Karen Kingsbury, and the list goes on. Throw in at least 30-40 other published Christian fiction authors in the CBA, and this conference is THE place to be for Christian fiction.
Not all of those meetings or appointments led to a contract or request, but they were all successful networking connections. Schmoozing is a big part of this business, and getting your name out there is critical. The more people hear about you, the better your chances are to continue getting contracts and making sales.

I have said many times I wouldn't be where I am in my writing without ACFW. The platform they provide is amazing for writers of all stages and levels.

Thanks, ACFW, for providing the platform where I have been able to make so many great connections and begin what is sure to be a promising writing career.


Jan Cline said...

It's my dream to attend this conference. I am saving my quarters in hopes of going next time. What great success stories. Thanks for sharing - very encouraging.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

You're quite welcome, Jan...and here's to you attending your first ACFW conference in 2011. Save those quarters. :)