Last Saturday I went to the "I've always wanted to write a book" conference hosted by the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group. It was held at the Radisson Hotel just north of downtown Grand Rapids, and was our group's first effort at hosting such an event. I haven't seen any numbers yet, but my overall impression is that it was a success. There were several new faces there (by new faces I mean people I didn't recognize from either of the writers' groups to which I belong), and a few expressed interest in coming to our meetings. The agent who accepted pitches made several people very happy by asking to see chapters and/or full manuscripts. The panels I attended generated lots of good questions and detailed answers. And we had enough attendees to break even. Wonderful!
As with any conference, there were times when I had to miss something that interested me because another session took precedence. But the ones I went to were great. I attended (and moderated) Maris Soule's presentation on writing mysteries, and then went to Margaret Yang's time management session. The keynote speaker, Jacqueline Carey, followed this. Then we had a delicious lunch in the hotel's restaurant. After that, I went to a panel on e-publishing, followed by a Young Adult panel. This was followed by a Q&A session with an editor and agent, and then the book signing. That wasn't so successful for me (I sold exactly ONE book!), but it was fun schmoozing. I sat by Dr. Sandra Portko and we had a nice chat.
So, what did I learn? Actually I had a few things drummed into me that I knew but probably didn't want to accept. I waste a LOT of writing time. I need to make adjustments in order to grow and succeed. I am VERY lucky to be published by a publisher. I don't want to self-publish. I feel like I'm already putting myself out there more than I would like, and wouldn't want to spend even more time working on it. I learned that, should I decide to try and make the move to traditional print publishing, I must know my niche. Right now I seem to be all over the place. I have a long historical and several short contemporaries. Some of those lean toward mystery, and some are straight romance.
I learned that there are a lot of great people out there who are willing to help me succeed in my drive to have a writing career, but that I have to put in the time and effort. This goal of mine is starting to become more and more attainable. It's been a dream that kept getting pushed farther and farther back. But someday is now. I will do it!