Choosing to attend a Writers’ Conference | Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference

Choosing to attend a Writers’ Conference

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 in front page, Testimonies

Choosing to attend a Writers’ Conference


From Lissa Halls Johnson, author, editor, and 2014 faculty member: Whenever fledgling writers come  for help in becoming a writer, I always, always tell them the most valuable thing they can do is attend a writer’s conference. There you will learn not only the craft, but also the culture of writing. What beginning writers often don’t know is that there’s more to writing than just putting words on paper. There’s learning how to arrange those words, the rules of successful submission, how to treat an editor and the etiquette of the publishing world. You learn the embarrassing mistakes that can continually cast you to the bottom of the editorial heap. You learn the lingo and the backstage secrets.
For more established writers, there’s the benefit of making connections and acquaintances (and even lifelong friends). And as a writer, you never, never stop learning. Each conference brings forward new or reviewed information. Each conference sends you home with more tools to hone your craft and more excitement to get back at it.
To this conference I bring many years of conference teaching, classes that have grown out of my work as a freelance writer and editor. My experience in writing covers the gamut of articles to radio theater to short stories, novels, and memoirs. To date I have over twenty books published, the most recent is a memoir for David C. Cook with Irene Garcia titled, Rich in Love. I have also written memoirs for Kirk Cameron (Still Growing) and his mother, Barbara Cameron (A Full House of Growing Pains). I have been editing for over fifteen years, including being the editor/creator of two book series. I combine that wellspring of experience with a joy of hanging out with writers and being a flashlight for those on the journey with me.

From Author Kathi Macias: I’m a seasoned vet when it comes to writers’ conferences in general. Because I speak at several writers’ conferences throughout the year and each seems to have its own unique “personality,” I’ve thought a lot about how those individual conference personalities draw and minister to attendees. Conferences vary according to size, venue, length, and focus, but each has something to offer–IF the attendee has done a little homework first in order to know what to expect.

Writers’ conferences are, for the most part, one of the most effective ways for an up-and-coming writer to spend his/her money. They  offer one of the few ways a previously unpublished writer can meet agents and publishers face to face and have their manuscripts get at least a cursory consideration. They are also a great way to expand writing relationships and networks. Local critique groups are most effective in establishing ongoing, regular communication with others of like mind, but conferences connect writers with professionals in the industry—a key to getting established in the publishing world.

Many Christian writers’ conferences are focused on just that–writing, at all levels, including marketing (which, yes, goes hand in hand with successful writing, particularly with books).  Some offer free time for writers to break away from workshops and sessions so they can spend time alone with God and/or with other conferees, while some keep attendees racing at break-neck speed from one event to another, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge and information as possible. In addition, some conferences offer critiques of your existing manuscripts, while others don’t, so this should be a major deciding factor if you have a manuscript for which you are seeking personal, professional feedback.