[box_dark]Last time, on My Journey to Publication, I shared helpful tools on preparing for a writer's conference[/box_dark]

 The day had finally arrived.  I was at my first writing conference and attempted to look like I knew what I was doing.  I hoped I was dressed appropriately.  I had my one sheet easily accessible, my book proposals neatly in plastic folders, and 200 business cards ready to pass out.  Was 200 business cards too many?  Or, not enough?  I didn't have a clue.

Before the conference began, I had my first meeting with a publisher. You better believe that some prayers were being sent up to Jesus.  I prayed for confidence and I prayed that I would effectively communicate my idea for a book.  I couldn't believe that I was about to pitch my book idea to a real-life editor. Finally, sweet Sheila motioned for me to enter the room.  It was a large room that had dividers set up between each publishing house.  The editors were sitting facing the door so it was go time as soon as I entered the space. As I shook my editor's hand, I began to recall my notes from Jeannie's talk on a successful publisher's meeting.  Soon, I was giving my elevator pitch, sharing my chapter outlines, and trying to convince her that my story would be marketable.  I felt like I was receiving positive eye contact and we had a very pleasant conversation.  However, at the end of my pitch, I was told that her house already had a book coming out about suffering and now wasn't the best time to pursue my story. The whole meeting lasted no more than 15 minutes.

Receiving her "no" did feel a bit like a punch to the gut.  I didn't cry or feel like the world was ending, but I was disappointed.  I think every person that wants to write secretly hopes that they will never receive rejection.  But, that just isn't the case.  Reality is, most writers get more rejections than approvals.  It takes perseverance and firm belief that your story is worth being published.  At the time, I was still wondering if my story even mattered.  Looking back on the experience, I'm sure the editor could tell that I was quite green.  The fact that she didn't completely stomp on my dreams shows that I shouldn't take her rejection personally.

After my publisher's meeting, it was time for the conference to begin.  My nerves were still a little rattled but I knew I needed to put on a smile.  All around me were women that were here to learn like me.  I didn't know a soul at the conference and was surprised to see little clusters of women talking like they were best friends.  The groups intimidated me, so I decided to sit in a chair and observe my surroundings.  About that time, a cute pregnant girl walked in my direction.  Our eyes caught and I offered her my chair to sit in.  She was so friendly and before long we were sitting next to each other at dinner (I was so relieved to have a dinner buddy and not be the kid who sat at the table alone!) and talking about our book ideas and goals as writers.  I am so glad that I met her Friday evening because it gave me a familiar face for the rest of the weekend.  It also gave me a little boost to be my outgoing self instead of letting my nerves get the best of me.

After dinner (and an amazing talk by Lysa TerKeurst), I attended some break-out sessions and then met my speaker evaluation group.  We had some quick introductions and then it was time for us to each share our testimonies.  It was so cool to immediately have an intimate experience with a group of women I had never met.  Not only did I receive feedback on my speaking, but I instantly felt connected to a dozen other women.  I would strongly recommend taking advantage of these kind of small group sessions at conferences for that reason alone.

The rest of Friday went by so quickly and before I knew it, I was in bed.  Saturday morning came and I went to some fabulous break-out sessions.  I was like a sponge, absorbing as much information as I could.  Saturday afternoon, I had my second publisher's meeting and I wanted to know if there was something that I could be doing better.  A consulting group was set up at the conference and offered mini-critique sessions.  I signed up for a session an hour before my publisher's meeting hoping it would help me.  My consultant was friendly yet professional and after I gave her my pitch she bluntly asked me, "You've got a story but is anybody interested?"  She went on to give me advice about growing my platform and told me that I needed to sell my proposal just like I did to her at my next meeting.  She also said that I had a mighty fine one sheet (thanks hubs!).

Gaining some confidence, I was much more relaxed in my second publisher's meeting.  I could tell the editor was tired but we had a nice conversation where I threw in little facts I knew about her and her publishing house.  At the end of the meeting, she gave me her business card and told me to e-mail her my proposal.  I gave her a way-big smile and a very southern thank you as I left the room.

In the hallway, I tried not to bust into song and dance.  I walked around trying to calm myself down.  As I turned a corner, I noticed a sign on a room for the literary agent that went to Auburn.  That sudden feeling of "I need to talk to her" came over me again.  Boldly, I asked the girl at the door if she had room for one more meeting.  I could see her slots were full so I gave her my one sheet and cell phone number to pass on to the agent.  I knew it was probably a lost cause but at least I tried.  Right?

If you are still reading, this is where the story gets interesting.  Sunday morning, I woke up to a text message.  FROM THE LITERARY AGENT!  Holy, Moly, did that wake me up!  She said that she wanted to meet me and that she had twin girls as well.  What were the odds?!!!!!  Y'all, I'm not kidding, I got on my knees and sobbed.  I couldn't believe that she cared.  I thanked God for this opportunity.  I was astonished, excited, and amazed at the work that He was doing in that very moment.  It is one of my favorite God experiences to date.

As the conference drew to a close, I met the agent out in the hallway.  We talked casually and comfortably about Auburn, raising twins, the South, etc.  It was so much easier to talk to her than anybody else at the conference.  I didn't feel like I was in an interview and giving a sales pitch...I felt like I was just getting to know someone kind of like me.  As we said our goodbyes, I gave her my book proposal.

Driving home from the conference, I had my answer that our story was worth sharing.  I was leaving encouraged, hopeful, and ready to write. 

Now that it has been almost a year later, I can  honestly say that She Speaks was one of the best things I ever did for my writing.  It made me believe that I was actually a writer, not just a dreamer.  I learned so much and gained the confidence that I needed for the road ahead.  Below are my top 10 things that I learned at She Speaks:

Top 10 Things I learned about Publishing at She Speaks:

1. Conquer Your Fears - Rejection from a publisher is not a rejection from God - Glynnis Whitwer on Magazine Writing 101

2. Find a way to translate your message to help others - Lysa TerKeurst and Rob Eager

3. Give yourself permission to say it all - Mary Demuth

4. When hard things happen in your ministry, look at it as a tool in the hands of God - Lysa TerKeurst

5. Build Intimacy when giving a life-changing message - Karen Ehman on Giving & Living a Life-Changing Message

6. Competition doesn't allow us to minister - Micca Campbell

7. Open-handed living is the only way to be open-handed with God - Ann Voskamp

8. The way we think determines the way we feel and how we live our lives - Renee Swope

9. Know Your Value - Holly Good on Speaker Fees

10. Think of blogs as serving the people that came to the party - Emily Freeman

And, just one more: Don't be afraid to say hello...you never know who you will meet - Yours Truly

Question: If you've attended a writing conference, what is the most important thing that you learned?

Stay tuned for the next installment of My Journey to Publication.  It's not always easy after attending a life-changing conference!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

Before you go, I'm excited to share a giveaway with all you truth-seekers!  PrintRunner is an online printing company that offers business card services. The winner of this giveaway will receive your very own business card (great for writer's conferences!).  The winner will receive 250 print business cards that have color on both sides. 

To enter, just leave a comment below by next Friday. 

Business Card Size and Style Business Cards - 2x3.5 (Standard)

Quantity - 250

Colors -  4/4 Color Both Sides

Paper  -  14 pt. UV Coating on Front, 14 pt. UV Coating on both sides,

Proof  -  NONE

Rounded Corners  - NO

Ready To Ship In - 3 Business Days

*Giveaway is open to US Residents only, ages 18 years old and above.  Thank you to PrintRunner for providing us this giveaway, I will receive a set of business cards for hosting this.