I recently attended the East Texas Baptist University Christian Writer's Conference in Marshall. There were quite a few workshops to choose from. The ones I chose to attend during those two days were worth their while. I thank Terry Burns, John Barry, Becca Anderson, Miriam Hees, Lexie Smith, Viola Palmer, and Pamela Dowd for sharing their expertise. After reviewing my notes and handouts, I have compiled some suggestions I thought were the most important. Even though I heard a few of these before, they were important enough to hear repeated. I wanted to share them with all of you.
• Be very careful of what you put on social media sites. Once it's out there, it's out there. It can come back to hurt you later on.
• Establish a separate email address for business purposes. If you are a fulltime freelance writer and can afford it, consider getting a separate phone line as well. You want to be as professional as possible.
• Never tell an editor, "I write like___________________". It is better to say, "I write for readers who read books from____________". (Don't use big name authors. It is more realistic to compare yourself to mid-level authors.)
• 85% of writers will never be credibly published. That's bad news. But the good news is that we are only competing with 15% who work hard and continue to improve their craft.
• Don't write about the hottest craze. It may take as long as a year for some books to be published. By then the craze may be over. Write about what you know.
• Never burn bridges. Editors talk to one another.
• Read your manuscript out loud and listen for any awkward parts. It is even better to let someone else read it out loud who is not familiar with it.
• Walk backwards while trying to work out your story. It gets your mind to think differently. (This sounded strange to me, but attendees agreed it works.)
This was my second time to attend this particular conference. It is scheduled for April of next year and I plan to attend again. In fact, I love all conferences. I love the feeling I get when I come home, feeling rejuvinated, ready to tackle the next chapter. I am also planning to attend a one day Writing for Excellence seminar in Keller, Texas on June 19th, sponsored by the North Texas Christian Writers.
Peggy Clement is a children's book writer living in Southeast Texas. She is a former freelance contributor to The Daily Comet, a newspaper in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Her first book, Queen of the Castle, is scheduled to be released later this year. Peggy is a member of Bayou Writers’ Group, Golden Triangle Writer's Guild, and Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.