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Snow CO 2017 Terry Whalin

Guest post and photo reprinted with permission of W. Terry Whalin, faculty member at this year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Terry shares a wealth of knowledge on “The Writing Life” in his blogs at terrywhalin.blogspot.com. At the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference he will teach two workshops, “Go Viral: Social Network Marketing” and “Nonfiction Book Creation from the Ground Up.”

Terry took this photo on May 19, 2017, in Estes Park, Colorado, during the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

For many years I’ve been attending conferences. My time at the recent Colorado Christian Writers Conference was unusual because in mid-May, we had over three feet of snow. It snowed for almost two solid days after we arrived at the event. Some faculty members who arrived late were stuck at the Denver airport. The snow made for an unusual and memorable event.

Some people wonder how I’ve published such a range of magazine articles and books. I’m not the best writer in the room but I am one of the most consistent. If I pitch an idea and an editor says, sounds good, send it to me. I make a little note, then go home, write the article or book and send it. Yes you have to write what the editor wants but overall I’ve found such a simple strategy works.

Just attending conferences is a financial investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways to profit from a conference.

First, listen for opportunities then take action. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher will be doing. I’ve written Bible studies in the past and enjoy this type of writing. I noticed the opportunity so I made a point to email this editor and affirm in writing my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said at the right time he would be in touch. This type of follow-up work leads to additional writing opportunities. You have to be listening for them.

Another editor at the conference has worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as a new writing credit. I’ve emailed the editor and we are corresponding about some ideas which I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication. You have to listen for the opportunities, then take action.

Advanced preparation before the event is a second way to profit from the conference. Study the faculty and see what they publish and then write pitches and book proposals. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information easily available online. Several writers at the recent conference brought flash drives with the electronic copy of their material. I appreciated the effort of these writers and it moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process. In one case I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board and I’m hoping to get a contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.

Most conferences have a freebie table with magazines and writers guidelines. These publications are looking for freelance writers. You have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines then make your pitch or query or follow-through. This consistent action of follow-up is the third way to profit from a conference. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.

At the conference, I met many people and came home with a large stack of business cards. I’ve been following up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal and/or manuscript. Yet few of them have reached out to me—and this type of situation is typical from my experience. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention and you will get publishing opportunities. This is the fourth way to profit from a conference.

One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing world. The fifth method to profit from a conference is to take action on these new skills. Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences.

It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply it to their writing life. At the Colorado event, I taught an early bird workshop about Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (my book). I worked hard on my handout which had many additional resources and links for those who used it. Here’s my handout for your reference: http://terrylinks.com/js I encourage you to download the handout, print it and follow the extra material to profit for your own writing life. I’ll be at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and other events this year. Check my speaking schedule link to connect and I hope our paths cross later this year and I can help you one on one.

As writers we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge growth area if you take a action and follow-up.
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It’s not too late to register for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Lodging and meals on campus are still available. But don’t delay! The “procrastinator’s fee” kicks in on July 19.

 

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Angela Schans Head Shot 8X10Guest Blogger
Social Media Coach
Angela Schans

If you are like many authors who have started a blog or website, Facebook page or other social media profiles, you’re likely to now be wondering, “Why isn’t this working? Where is my active, engaged, and growing audience? Is this working like it’s supposed to? How can I optimize my efforts?”

At the Build a Strong Foundation for Your Online Platform Clinic I am teaching at the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference you will receive a social media tune-up, overhaul, or kick-start, personally tailored to your current starting point and individual goals to make God’s answers accessible to the online world.

  • Get your social media platforms assessed.
  • Receive a point-by-point personalized agenda for your social media tune-up, start-up, or overhaul.
  • Spend class time with me by your side helping you with your social media renovations so that you can share His answer (as written in your book!) in the most effective way.

You may enter the class as a social media baby, but you will leave, a ROCKSTAR! Each day will begin with in-depth instruction on technical topics made simple including:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media Algorithms
  • The nuts and bolts of YouTube production
  • how to design engaging and attractive graphics and videos to express His Answer in a professional and consistent tone with your book/brand

In my pursuit of becoming an author, I found myself tired and frustrated when my blogging and social media efforts were being viewed by 2-20 people in a week’s time.

It wasn’t until I unlocked the power of connecting various digital media tools to optimize my blog and social media accounts that my blogs finally got the thousands of daily visitors I had been longing to see.

At this year’s clinic, I am excited to share with a select group of Christian authors exactly what to do to move the needle for audience growth and professional digital development of their author platforms.

Having this ideal opportunity to assess each of my student’s current digital footprint and offer today’s BEST practices for maximizing their impact on the world-wide web is a thrill!

I’ve had the joy of helping others optimize digital success through personal coaching. Click here for testimonials of some of the people I’ve worked with. And check out their websites or YouTube channels to see the great impact their efforts are making.

I can’t wait to check out your website/ social media profiles for style, voice, professionalism, user friendliness, and appeal. I will also be investigating your current content creation process and sharing individualized techniques to offer tips to improve your online impact.

Together we will apply valuable online renovations so that the work you have put into your author platform actually WORKS for you!

We’ve extended the deadline for applying for my clinic through July 10.  You’ll find the application at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics.

I’ll also be teaching an early bird workshop on Wednesday, July 26, from 2:45 – 4:00. In “Demystifying Digital Design” you’ll learn how to design beautiful digital graphics to promote your book, brand, or website. I’ll share the finer points of digital design. What makes a message pop? What colors work and how can you choose them? Where can you get royalty free images to help illustrate your blogs, videos, graphics or books? How can you edit images? What font should you choose? In this workshop you’ll learn how to use PicMonkey to design or edit any picture you can imagine to help you “Write His Answer.”

God bless and I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, July 26-29.

 

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Fact or fantasy?

All you have to do to be a successful writer is to sit down and write.

Well, yes, certainly you’ll never be a writer (successful or not) if you don’t write. But the days when all a writer needed to do was to write are history.

In today’s world it is essential that we master technology. Okay, we won’t master technology, but it is critical that we know the basics of how to use a computer. And that doesn’t mean just learning how to use Microsoft Word to create a professional looking manuscript that is properly formatted and has headers and page numbers. The wise and brave will learn how to use Scrivener. (Debbie Allen is teaching a 4.5 Wednesday afternoon early bird workshop on “Scrivener from 0-60: Get Comfortable, Get Writing” May 17 at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the actual writing and learning how to use the great tools we now have is just part of what we need to do. I began writing on an old manual typewriter. Well I’m not as old as this antique typewriter although I do remember my grandfather had one in the basement. My first manuscripts for publication were created on a blue Royal with keys that got tangled when I typed too fast.

Selectric type ballThe introduction of the Selectric typewriter and that marvelous spinning ball greatly increased my productivity. And to be honest, when computers were introduced, I was not at all interested in giving up my trusted Selectric and learning something new. (I really didn’t think I was smart enough!)

Even today, when my computer is causing me grief, I admit I almost long for the good old days of a yellow legal pad and pencil!

The greatest struggle though is all the other stuff that has become essential. Yep! I mean the “building a platform” stuff. While it’s exciting to be able to write something and publish it ourselves as a blog or ebook, the challenge of finding readers is daunting.

Both the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will provide help with

Blogging

     Creating a Brand

                    Marketing Plans

           Public Speaking

                       Social Media How-to

     Website Evaluation

Below is a chart of Colorado faculty members who are available for one-on-one appointments to help you grow your platform and thus your writing ministry.

chart-grow-writing-ministry2

Important: For a PDF of the above chart click here.
The links are live in the PDF version.

Father, help us to embrace today’s opportunities to reach the world with the words You’ve entrusted to us. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by all we need to learn and to do, help us to trust You. Thank You for Your promise:

Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB

 

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It used to be the biggest challenge writers faced was getting words down on paper and finding someone willing to publish them. That still is a challenge, but today it’s just the beginning of what a writer is expected to do.

 

Writing not facebookingNow we daily face the overwhelming task of building a platform. The time needed to write words worth reading is infringed upon by the need to have a growing presence on social media. We are driven to develop our “brand” along with a memorable tagline that will resonate with our “audience.”

I confess it’s all too easy for me to get caught up in this not so merry, merry-go-round.

 

Last week I spent a day and a half preparing a new flyer for the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. One side is an overview of the conference and highlights the concert my friend, Marty Goetz, is giving on Wednesday night.

Marty poster for web

 

The other side describes our exciting Teens Write on Thursday and Pastors Write on Friday.

 

TW & PW flyer GP 2016 for web

 

I am excited about all this year’s conference offers. And I do work really hard to present the opportunities in the most professional and best way possible. I even added a new Spread the Word page to the conference website. But sadly, in my effort to “market” the conference, I am convicted that I forgot the most important thing.

 

The 3-1/2 day conference in August does provide many opportunities to learn about the craft of writing and marketing, but it is the message – “His answer” – that is the most important Word that needs to be spread.

 

As Michael Gantt said in his keynote at last year’s conference and this year’s  Colorado Christian Writers Conference, “The Cross is the Main Thing.” I urge you to watch the video of his keynote and/or read the transcript.  I also urge you to subscribe to his blog at http://growinggodlyseed.com.

 

Yes, I’d really appreciate your help spreading the word about the August 3-6 conference, but the most important thing each one of us can and must do is to spread His Word, His answer.

 

Again, quoting Michael Gantt from the blog he posted today:

We are called to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to magnify and glorify the matchless Name of Jesus. We are called to declare deliverance to the captives, healing to the broken, and to declare that forgiveness of sin is found in none other than Jesus Christ. We are called to bring the light of the gospel to our cities; to bind up the broken, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and to declare even in the face of Caesar the eternal decrees of God – That’s what we are called to do!

Yes, indeed, that is the Word we are called to spread. God help us to be found faithful.

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Discouraged face

Writing, rewriting, editing . . . It’s not easy to refine an idea into a publishable manuscript. And that is just the beginning! Then you need to determine  where to submit your writing and to persist in submitting again and again. It may become evident through this process that independent publishing is your best option. But how can you be certain?

Going to a writers’ conference will not only help you to gain critical knowledge about writing and publishing, it will also give you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with editors, agents, authors, and other professionals.

With FOUR free 15-minute appointments (FIVE for the first 75 who register for all three days), no conference provides more opportunities than the May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. But with a faculty of over 50 at each conference, how can you be certain you’re making the best choices?

The helpful steps below will equip you for your conference experience, wherever that might be.

1. PRAY!

If you want to know what God wants you to do,
ask him, and he will gladly tell you,
for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply
of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it.
James 1: 5 TLB

2. Review the 79 genres/topics on the Editorial Needs Charts that our amazing Appointments Coordinator, Barb Haley, has painstakingly compiled based on responses from our Colorado faculty.

Ed Needs p 2 NF

Sample page. Click here for a PDF of the entire 9 pages that is readable.

3. Study the bios of the editors and agents who are interested in what you are writing and study any additional info about their editorial needs that accompanies their bio. (Note: Bios of the agents and other professionals will be added to the website soon.)

4. Visit their website and carefully read their guidelines for writers.

5. Keep in mind that your best option may be to meet with an author. If you do not have a manuscript or concrete idea to discuss, we recommend that you request appointments with authors. An author can help you evaluate the readiness of your manuscript for publication. Barb has also prepared a 9-page chart of “Areas of Expertise.” 1-14. Author bios will be added to the conference website soon.

6. Consider the option of a 30-minute paid critique. Yes, Barb has also created a 9-page chart (click here) for paid critiques. For even more info, including length parameters, that there is room on the chart to provide, click here.

My paid manuscript review gave me the most thorough
and helpful manuscript review I’ve had to date
.
Clement Hanson

7. Prepare for your appointments using the tips you’ll find by clicking here.

Finally, pray some more – but not desperate “please, God” prayers. Instead surrender your work – your words – to the Lord and trust that He knows the plans He has for you and for your writing.

 
Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD‘s voice in everything you do,
everywhere you go; he’s the one
who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.
Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG

Stay tuned for exciting updates about the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference as the details fall into place.

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Ava PenningtonGuest post
by Ava Pennington
Co-captain, Appointment Desk

Banner 2015 GPCWC

The first time I attended a Christian writers’ conference, I was reminded of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not just any buffet, but one whose tables overflowed with lobster and filet mignon.

That four-day conference was packed with continuing classes, workshops, resources available for purchase, and free resources, too. What amazed me most were the opportunities for appointments with acquisition editors, agents, and successful, multi-published authors.

Although I was grateful for those meetings, I was also terrified. Would I say the wrong thing and be branded as a hopeless novice? Or would I be able to make the most of each opportunity?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from those experiences as well as from my experiences on the other side of the table…

  1. Be prepared

Research the people you will meet. Learn their editorial needs or areas of expertise. Check the Faculty-at-a-Glance page or the summary spread sheet for details about the 53 authors, editors, and agents serving on the faculty of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Preparation also includes ensuring your writing sample is the best it can be. Edit for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Remember, your written work represents you!

  1. Follow directions

Follow directions regarding what and how to submit. Did you review the guidelines regarding length and format? Did the agents and editors say they were interested in your genre?

Following directions in advance of your meeting is also good practice for submissions after the conference.

  1. Don’t be surprised by differing responses.

Opinions will be as varied as the people you meet. One agent might not be interested in your work, while another will be enthusiastic. The first agent might already be representing a similar manuscript. The second agent might have recently spoken with an editor seeking books similar to yours. Don’t be surprised—or discouraged—if your appointments offer differing responses to the same manuscript.

  1. Develop a thick skin.

One of the most difficult things writers learn to do is pour themselves into their work, then listen to someone else’s critique without taking it personally.

As writers, we can be our own worst enemy if we become argumentative and defensive about our work. Remember, you don’t have to implement everything that’s suggested. But at least consider what you hear, pray about it, and compare the comments to what other objective people say (not including your mom).

One thing not to say is “God told me to write this.” The editor might be tempted to answer “God did not tell me to publish it!”

  1. Be open to God’s detours

Your heart may be set on writing a book, but an editor may tell you the content is better suited for a magazine article—or a series of articles—instead. Or maybe you wrote a picture book, only to be told that it would make a terrific story for a children’s magazine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you must change your project. But consider and pray about what they say. Keep in mind the average book now sells 250 copies, while the circulation of some magazines can number in the tens of thousands. It’s easy to see which one will give you a greater audience.

One other thing I’ve learned in staffing the appointment desk is that God’s detours sometimes include having you meet with someone other than who you requested. Don’t despair—you may very well be pleasantly surprised. Last year at the GPCWC, one conferee was unable to meet with her first choice, but the appointment we scheduled for her turned out to be the person she needed to meet. Trust God’s sovereignty over your writing…and your meetings. He’s in control and He loves you. There’s no better combination.

  1. Follow through

You may find this next point difficult to believe. After the conference, conferees frequently fail to send manuscripts requested during an appointment. If the agent or editor asks you to send your work, do it!

During the conference, keep a list of what agents and editors ask you to send. Did they request a query? A full proposal? A complete manuscript? Send it!

Last, but not least…

  1. Enjoy your meetings!

The editors, agents, and authors you’ll meet at GPCWC are looking forward to meeting you. They’re friendly and yes, they’re human—just like you. We all have the same goal—to use our abilities to glorify God and bless His people. So enjoy your appointments!

For more information on preparing for your appointments, check out the

Appointment Preparation page of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference website. Conference Director Marlene Bagnull has included lots of helps to assist you in having successful appointments.

While you’re at the conference, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at the Appointment Desk and will be happy to meet you and answer your questions!

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Have you ever said, “If only someone would sit beside me and help me figure this out”?

I have! All too often I am overwhelmed by the learning curve. I’d love to be able to sit in all of the clinics at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, but I’m too busy directing the conference. The clinics aren’t recorded so I can’t listen to them after the conference. Even if they were available on CD, it wouldn’t be the same as being there and getting help with my projects and questions. And I do need help!

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Karen Whiting from FB 3Develop a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book with Karen Whiting
I know I’ve not done a good job marketing my books. That’s sad. My Turn to Care – Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents is a needed devotional book. For Better for Worse – Devotional Thoughts for Married Couples is also needed but it’s out of print the same as two other books I worked so hard to publish. I need to get them back in print, but what I really need first is time with Karen Whiting to develop marketing plans that will work. Vicki Chandler, a clinic participant, says, “In three days, Karen helped me create a detailed marketing plan. She’s the Michelangelo of marketing.” You can read more about Vicki’s experience in Karen’s clinic at http://bit.ly/1K0EL7z.


Get Them Coming to Your  Blog/WebsiteMegan Breedlove cr
with Megan Breedlove
I spend a lot of time on blog posts and my three websites but not near enough time on learning the secrets of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and choosing (and using) effective keywords. I need the help Megan is going to provide. See Megan’s post, “How Do I Get to Be #1 on Google?” at http://bit.ly/1KXn9fR.


Jeanette WindleHook that Editor Book Proposal Clinic
with Jeanette Windle
Writing a book proposal is not fun or easy! Although I have written proposals that have resulted in contracts, I know Jeanette’s input would strengthen my proposals. And unlike the other clinics, I’d only need to miss three workshops to attend the nonfiction or fiction clinic. Jeanette is an award-winning novelist, missions journalist, editor, and collaborative writer. She represents Kregel Publications.


Fiction Intensive
with Nancy RueNancy Rue 2014
Someday I’m going to write a novel. When I do, there is nobody’s help I would value more than Nancy’s. I’ve never forgotten the day long clinic with Nancy that I sat in on over ten years ago. Wow! Christy Distler, one of last year’s participants, says it better than I can: “Nancy has a wonderful way of connecting with each writer she works with, her feedback is honest and yet kind, and her sense of humor makes the classes not only enlightening but also a fun fellowship with other writers.”

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For more information about GPCWC’s cliics and the needed application go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics. And do it now. The deadline for applying is July 15. And if you’ve not yet registered for the conference, I encourage you to do so before the late fee (I call it “the procrastinator’s fee”) kicks in July 16.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

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