After The Conference: What To Do When The Circus Leaves Town

                              After the Conference Ends: “What to do when the circus leaves town.”

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over.
They say all things must come to an end.”
-Willie Nelson

I’ve read many excellent articles about preparing for, and attending, writing conferences. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one on what to do after the conference.

What a writer does after the conference may be more important than what happened during the event. As an avid conference goer, I’ve thought about several items essential in the hours and days after the conference ends. Here are some thoughts:

1. Plan some time for introspection and reflection. Leaving a conference means returning to our busy worlds at home: family, phone calls, jobs, and responsibilities. If we don’t have a plan for both written and mental reflection, many of the things we’ve learned will fall through the cracks. If you’re flying, take time to journal, set goals, and during your waiting and flight time.

2. Take time to follow up on relationships you’ve started and continued. Being a professional writer involves building relationships with other authors, and industry doorkeepers (agents, and editors.) As soon as the conference ends is the perfect time to solidify these friendships by:

A. Follow-up up with emails or notes to all of the business cards you’ve collected. A good plan is to use a glue stick to attach the cards in your journal or event program. Jot notes of details about this person. Follow up with an E-mail, Facebook invitation, or Tweet. Adjust your email signature where it includes a small photo of you. This will allow recipients to remember who you are.

B. Building relationships is a privilege of being a Christian writer. It’s also one of our responsibilities. Networking is a key ingredient in building a writing career.

C. Don’t forget the power of a personal note. E-mail is great, but a hand-written personal note is one of the most cherished things you can send a speaker, conference host, or award winner.

To read my article, “The Power of a Personal Note” click here.

D. Send a thank you email/note even to professionals who may have turned down your proposal. This shows Christian grace and class and is the sign of a professional writer. Never burn a bridge on the road of life, especially with writing doorkeepers. As my mother reminded me, “You can’t have too many friends.”

3. Make time to follow up on all requests for proposals, book ideas, and requested information. I’ve heard agents and editors relate how many times they never receive requested materials from authors. Don’t miss the chance to walk through the door of opportunity.

4. Set written goals to send requested materials. A common disease after conferences is “WritersDoubtSyndrome.” You’ve gone to the conference with that next bestseller firmly in hand. After sitting in seminars on the craft of writing and receiving critique feedback, you feel the need to start all over on your novel or project.

Even if a doorkeeper requested a sample or proposal, the tendency is to rework it until we feel it is editor worthy. This is good unless it leads to never sending until we think it “is perfect.” Enlist the support of fellow writers and friends who will hold you accountable to update and submit your work by a certain date.

5. Make a folder of materials you brought home from the conference. If you attend the conference next year, it will be a valuable resource.

6. In this folder prepare a “L.B./N.T.” file. In a ministry I formerly led, we had a “Liked Best/Next Time” form. After each event, every employee wrote what they liked best about the event as well as what we’d do differently next time. It was an invaluable aid in planning and preparing for the future.

Going to a writing conference is a thrill and privilege for all authors. Our investment of time, travel, and money is worth it. By developing your own follow through plan after the conference, it will result in the greater benefits.

Copyright 2009 by Creekbank Stories Curt Iles
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  1. Wonderful advice, Curt. Thanks.

  2. Great points, Curt. I've decided that I hate the last day of conference. While the worship is wonderful, there's just this depressing cloud that hangs over me. It's over. Now it's back to my little office, all alone. No one to bounce ideas off of (let's face it, email just isn't the same :-)and no longer can I immerse myself in the craft. Sigh.

    But the, there's always next year!

    BTW it was great to chat with you in Denver.

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