Friday, October 2, 2015

Following Through After a Conference

with Amy Green, Bethany House Fiction Publicist

I’m a huge fan of writing conferences. In fact, this year, I co-taught one at the ACFW conference with Melissa Tagg.
Amy Green with Bethany House Author Melissa Tagg

(We called it “Stress-Free Marketing” because who wouldn’t want less stress in their lives?) She brought the author perspective, I brought the publisher perspective as the fiction publicist at Bethany House. Hopefully that class and the dozens of other classes and workshops at the conference were really helpful to the writers there.
Our presentation for the class. Sidenote: I’d highly recommend for creating presentations. They have lovely, easy-to-use templates that work better than PowerPoint for people with non-linear brains

However, I also know conferences have the tendency to be A. overwhelming extravaganzas of information-overload and B. often focused more on (really good) abstract ideas than (really important) practical application.

As I was planning this post, I noticed Sandra wrote a great post a few months ago covering all of the connect-and-organize details, like contacting editors, taking care of expenses, and putting the swag, books, and business cards you may have collected into some semblance of order.

Which means I don’t have to talk about any of that, which is great, because you can only listen to me for so long without getting bored.

What I want to focus on is more big-picture stuff. It can be easy to learn a bunch of new things and have good intentions to apply it all to your writing, editing, and marketing…and then never do it. Here are some tips for following through and putting what you learned into action.
Amy Green (standing) Melissa Tagg (waiting her turn) at ACFW Conference in Dallas
Step One: Take a deep breath. Maybe wait a week or two to dive back into conference material. After all, you’ve probably gotten behind on a lot of things while you were gone…emails, dishes, family time. (Though my general philosophy is that dusting can always wait.) Catch up, rest a bit…but not too long, or you’re likely to not revisit the conference information at all.

Step Two: Get reacquainted. Get out your notes and handouts and go over them again. Not like a detective studying a case file. More like a mom sorting through her child’s adorable macaroni paintings, Grandparent’s Day essays and “Most Talkative” Awards. (I got two of those in elementary school, in case you were wondering.) Meaning  you should organize (put handouts with the notes for that class, for example), trash (in case there was a handout that didn’t apply or contained information you already knew), and familiarize (do a quick scan of the material).

Step Three: Focus. Take a highlighter and mark the parts of the classes that created “lightbulb” moments in your head—“I’ve never thought about that before!” “This is a weakness I know I have.” “Here’s something I want to learn more about.” “I wonder what would happen if I took this idea, and….” Those will be the sections you most want to revisit.

Step Four: Make an action plan. Melissa and I actually had the writers attending our “Stress-Free Marketing” class fill out an action plan worksheet in class. It had questions for each of our main topics guiding the authors through application—the specific details about what they actually wanted to change based on what they learned.
Here are some suggestions for creating a plan of your own (broken down into two categories because their application looks fundamentally different). I’d suggest pulling a few questions out of these lists and answering them for one or two classes you found most helpful. More than that, and it’ll probably get overwhelming.
Craft Classes:

·         Which of the topics/points mentioned is a weakness for me? What can I do to address this? (Brainstorm a list.)

·         In my current work in progress (or the next project I will write), what is one area I’d really want to grow in? How can I make sure that happens? (Put a Post-It note on your computer, have your critique group specifically look for growth in that area, ask other authors for tips and keep them handy as you write, etc.)

·         Did one theme/topic stand out from this class? Do I know an author who seems to have mastered this? (Read a book or several by this author focusing on how the author accomplished the goal you noticed—such as tighter pacing, natural-feeling spiritual thread, realistic kid dialogue, etc. Take notes, even.)

·         If I learned about a new genre/type of writing, what more would I need to know before deciding to write in this way myself?

Task-Oriented Classes: (Could include marketing, panels on agents, checklists for self-editing, etc.)

·         What part of the class was something I’d like to research more? Do I know anyone who seems to be more experienced in this area? What questions can I ask him/her or research in other ways? (Internet, agent blogs, books on marketing, etc.)

·         Is there any discussion I want to start with my publisher or other writers based on this class? (Either to decide whether a teacher’s thoughts seemed accurate—“How useful is this platform, really, in your experience?” or to get ideas of how to apply something—“How have you seen giveaways done in creative ways?”)

·         Is there something I should stop doing? Why should I stop doing this? (Examples: takes too much time for what’s it’s worth, it isn’t good etiquette,  it stresses me out unnecessarily.)
·         A year from now, what are three ways I would like to be doing things differently based on what I learned in this class? Now, what are three smaller areas under each of these that would help me reach that goal?

·         When am I going to do [Takeaway Action]? Can it be broken into smaller steps? What are those steps?

There are probably many, many more specific and practical questions you could ask under each category, but hopefully this gets you started.

Step Five: Be realistic. A perfect author would be able to take and apply every bit of writing advice flawlessly, be present on every platform multiple times a day, and still manage to spend time playing endless games of Monopoly with the kids and knead sourdough bread in a spotless kitchen. This is not, however, remotely realistic. If you take a few areas to improve in, there’s a much better chance you’ll actually do it.

It can help to think small. Much like making a list of New Year’s Resolutions or jotting down areas you need to work on after a sermon on the fruits of the Spirit (all of them, if you’re like me), it can be overwhelming to look at a long list of things you need to change or add to your already-busy schedule. Break down larger areas into small tasks and give them deadlines, if that’s what works for you. Or make a long list and pick one task to focus on at the start of each month.

Step Six: Don’t feel guilty if something doesn’t work for you. If you learned any kind of formula, story structure, or method, remember that while you can often learn a lot from how others approach writing, outlining, or editing, your process doesn’t have to look the same as the instructor’s. You may find a time management grid works perfectly for you…and it may trap you and make you feel totally inadequate. The same is true for any To-Do list. Use it as an inspiration, a brainstorm-starter, or something to try and see if it works…but not as a command or a foolproof strategy. You’ll get the most out of conference material if you adapt it to fit your needs, writing style, and schedule.

Step Seven: Reward yourself. After all this work, you deserve a little rest! Take a nap, eat a favorite treat, spend some time doing something you love. Maybe plan out your reward before you tackle your post-conference follow-up to motivate you to actually get it done. (Also, I will confess: I really like lists that are seven points long. I sometimes add or delete things to my To-Do list to have seven. It’s a problem.)

Writers, do you have any post-conference tips to share with other writers? They can advice for organizing information, keeping up connections, remembering what you promised to send where and actually getting it done…anything that helps you!

Amy is giving away THREE copies of Mary Connealy's new release Fire & Ice. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.  Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Find Amy Green's Bethany Fiction Blog HERE


  1. Hi Amy....and Mary. I really, really REALLY want that book! Thanks in advance. I'm hoping that this post generates more books, Amy. Can you tell I'm a reader, not a writer?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi, Amy! SO good to chat with you at the conference. :)

  4. Great advice!

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!

  5. Hi, AMY!

    I always wonder if I should comment on things with Bethany prizes.....Anyway I read the excerpt of Fire and Ice today while posting it into the Inspirational Historical Fiction Index and I can't wait to read it!

    And dusting always waits around here. My husband likes to joke that I only dust when we move....I think he only does his courtesy laugh afterward to make people THINK it's a joke, but it's really....quite true.

    My advice for getting it done is, do it! Really, I think I heard an agent or editor say that only about 20% of their requests comes in after a conference. That other 80% they were interested in didn't send them what was promised, so yours will stand out as "Oh, this person follows through!" Always good to appear as a person who follows through!

    And my other advice is to write on the back of the person's business card what was requested by them, but well, since conference is over, that isn't very helpful.

  6. As one of the attendees at Amy and Melissa's class I can say it was amazing. I still can't believe they managed to keep me both conscious and interested for five hours when I was jet lagged and functioning on three hours of sleep!

  7. Amy, these are wonderful tips! Thank you so much for being here and recapping all of this! I love that you guys went in depth and Kara's praise sounds major league sincere to me!


    And some Midwestern Bars, a selection of caramel/chocolate/walnut bars and brownies with hazelnut spread and toffee bars!

    Let's celebrate the Midwest and Bethany House today!

  8. Hi Amy! Thank you for the very informative post today!

    I would love to have my name tossed in for the giveaway!

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!!!!!

    Cindy W.

  9. Hi Amy! Wonderful post today! So nice to hear someone say out loud that we don't have to incorporate every tidbit of information and advice into our writing lives!

    Happy Birthday, Seekerville! It's going to be an awesome month!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Hi Amy! What wonderful advice--all of it! I especially liked the idea of sorting through conference notes with an open mind. No one can do it all. And I know what you mean about having seven things on a list . . . Six just isn't right, and eight is too many. Though I admit to being okay with just five. Must be something about odd numbers!

    So sorry to have missed ACFW this year. It was on the calendar, but I went to see those granddaughters of mine instead. Your class with Melissa sounds awesome!

  12. Welcome Amy! Attending a large conference can feel like information overload. Thank you for your great tips. Happy Weekend!

  13. Let them eat cake! And I brought it! Welcome, Amy. First I have to tell you that I love the Bethany House Blog!!! Great tips here. I wish I'd had them years ago.

    My question for you: What's your favorite part of your job??

  14. Hey, Amy great to see you here today. Great post today with so many great points. I believe in planning and list making when I need to get something done. Routine is a must ! When I am done with whatever I planned to do I reward myself with some reading time and a nice cuppa tea.
    I'd love to be entered to win, Mary's book Fire and Ice.
    Deanne Patterson

  15. Good morning, Amy! Excellent, Excellent, Excellent post! SO MUCH to absorb, so I'm definitely bookmarking this one to come back to again and again. I love practical posts that I can find application in. THANK YOU!

  16. Amy, I have not been to a conference yet, but I can apply your advice to craft books. I always feel a little overwhelmed after reading them. How helpful it would be to dismiss the points I already know and make a list of the things I want to remember and work on. And break those down to small steps.

    I'd love to win a copy of Fire and Ice. Please enter me.

  17. I haven't yet been able to attend ACFW conference but have attended a smaller writers conference in my state and your advice applies there as well. I hope to someday be able to sit in on that class you taught with Melissa and learn about that stress-free marketing! Thank you Amy. Valuable information.

  18. Amy, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for the awesome, practical tips! I will be coming back to this and making a plan that'll work for me.

    Thanks for the generous giveaway. I'm loving Mary's Fire and Ice! It may be my favorite but then it seems I say that with every book.


  19. Good morning, Seekers and friends! Thanks to everyone for stopping by. I won't be able to reply to all your comments (I should probably actually get some work done today), but I hope these tips were helpful to you! (Special shoutout to my BHP authors! You guys are great.) And thanks to Mary for inviting me!

    Kara, thanks so much! That's great to hear--whenever I'm talking for any substantial length of time, I worry that I can't possibly be saying anything interesting. Hope you've recovered from the conference!

    Ruth, I'm always up for celebrating the Midwest. We can add some spiced hot apple cider too!

    And Tina, so glad you enjoy the blog! Writing that is the task I enjoy most about my job, though it's a teeny, tiny fraction of what I do during a week. My favorite aspect, though, is working with a team of great people, both BHP employees and authors. Being part of the process of getting great books into readers' hands is what makes the tedious tasks (HTML coding, I'm lookin' at you) worth it.

  20. Hi Amy, Bethany is one of my favorite publishers!

    Happy Birthday Seekerville! October birthday month is always so much fun! I have been lurking in the background all week keeping up with all the Seeker/Villagers. Ya'll are the best for encouraging each other, writers/readers alike, one of the reasons I love this blog so much!

  21. A system that includes reducing guilt and self-reward. I knew you were my kind of girl! Wish I could have attended that class . . .

  22. Thanks so much for this great post filled with tips and advice! I'm making a list to refer to later!

  23. Happy Birthday Seekerville.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  24. Tremendously well said, Amy! Thanks for offering such practical advice. :)

  25. Thanks for all these excellent tips, Amy, and for being our guest in Seekerville today!

    I'm starting to feel kind of guilty about all the scads of conference notes languishing in my filing cabinet. I always came home with good intentions, but then I'd get busy with "real life" and neglect going through my notes . . . until something jogged my memory and then I frantically began searching for that one important tidbit I really wanted to review.

    Actually, I usually tend to skip the "organizing" part and go straight to my "reward"--dark chocolate peanut M&Ms!

  26. HELLO AMY! Thank you for ALL that you do for these amazing authors. You do everything with a wonderful spirit of excellence.

    Please put me in for the drawing for Mary Connealy's FIRE&ICE.

    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

  27. Hello Amy, Thanks so much for joining us here in Seekerville and giving us such great pointers to use after a conference. Many of these suggestions are good to use even if we didn't go to the conference. I really like your idea to make a plan. So often we hear something and say to ourselves "Oh I should do that." But if you're like me, you could easily forget that good intention before applying it. Making a plan really helps me anyway.

    Thanks for mentioning my post. I'm glad you found those hints valid.

    Thanks again for joining us. I know your time is valuable so we really appreciate you taking the time to share with us.

  28. I love the looking through your child's book bag analogy. That's basically what I've been doing, and then prioritizing the items. First, what was I supposed to send and agent or publisher? Second, the business cards I collected are contacts now either on social media or email. Third, I'm working on thank you notes and emails while also studying the class handout for the area of my writing life that needed the most work.
    Great conference and great article!
    I'd love to be in the drawing!

  29. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Last night I pulled out my notes from ACFW to go through this weekend. Your advice will help.

    I always enjoy the Bethany House blog, and I learned so much at the spotlight on Bethany House in Dallas.

    Thanks for taking time to share with us today!

  30. Amy, I only made it to about 1 1/2 hours of yours and Melissa's class, but what I heard was GREAT! I can hardly wait to receive my recordings so I can listen to everything I missed. I loved your action points here, and the grace that you encourage as we figure out our action plans. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!

  31. Tina I'll take a piece of that cake and glad you asked the question.

    Amy, I can just imagine that joy in working with so many fun authors. What I love about authors is that we are all so different and come from such a variety of backgrounds.

    Thanks to Bethany House for sending books out. I have Fire and Ice and can hardly wait to get into it. Mary is one of my favorite authors.

  32. So many of you are saying you wish you could have attended the class. Me too. Did ACFW committee publish CD's of the conference? That is a great way to hear workshops if you can't attend. Its great to have those even if you do attend because then you can revisit the ones you really liked.

  33. I'm with you Tracey, Bethany House publishes great books. I love their selection.

  34. Hi Amy
    I've never been to a conference, but I'm keeping this list in mind for when (eventually... someday...) I do.

    no need for my name in the draw. I have Mary's book and may I say it's AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I love, love, love, love, love, love, love (7 loves for you) Mary Connealy books.

    Just sayin...

    Thanks for sharing with Seekerville.

  35. Thanks so much, Caryl! Glad to have you as part of our larger family of readers and bloggers!

    Jackie, I'm glad the spotlight was helpful to you. Dave and Raela did a great job!

    And thanks, Jeanne! If you weren't there for the part where I started singing...I've gotten a lot of teasing for that around the office.

    And Sandra, ACFW always puts individual classes and flash drives of the conference up...but I'm not sure when they do that. Past years are here (bottom of the right sidebar): You can check back in a month or two to see if they've added 2015 classes.

  36. Hi Amy! I still have not made it to a conference, but maybe next year will be my year. I like your tips and have jotted a few down to keep in mind.
    I'd love to win a copy of Mary's book.
    And a big happy birthday to Seekerville! My favorite place on the web :)

  37. Hi Amy:

    Great ideas.

    My 'prime directive' when I go to a conference is to immediately write down anything I learn that will change the way I go about writing. This is always the most valuable information I come to a conference to learn. I need to apply this new information in my writing for at least the next three weeks after the conference. This new learning must become a writing habit that I don't have to think about or remember to do when it is needed in the writing process.

    The more things you can do by habit, without thinking, the better and faster you can write. The fast great writers do many things by habit that the rest of us need checklists and critique partners to accomplish.

    Conference Heroines!

    I've owned a seminar company for about 30 years. I've given thousands of seminars. And yet I think the biggest heroines at any conference are always the writers who, while scared to death, gather the courage to give their very first writing seminars.

    Please, if you are in the audience, let these 'teachers' know, by your attitude and body language, that you welcome them and want them to succeed. Look at them with approval. Please don't be looking at your watches or smart phones. Attention is the best applause.


    P.S. I have all of Mary's books. However, I'd like to win a little extra time to catch up on my reading and review writing. :) )

  38. Hi, Amy! So great to have seen you there at conference! Thanks for sharing these tips! Having an action plan always takes me from frazzled and panicking to calm and focused. Great steps for success! Now for me to get to work... :)

  39. Vince, your advice for workshop attendees is terrific! An agent/editor appointment is an acceptable excuse to look at a watch. Otherwise we need to have empathy for the speaker.

    One trick Debby taught me is to meet as many attendees as I can before the workshop begins in order to establish a connection of sorts, which helps calm nerves and has listeners pulling for the speaker to do well.


  40. Amy, thank you for a strategy to apply to all the conference information. Your ideas would also be helpful after taking a writing class. I especial like your "focus" and "action plan" thoughts....areas I need to concentrate on.

    I haven't been to many conferences, but I like to write a blog post after attending one to summarize what I learned and to share the information with others. (Which reminds me,.....I need to post about an August conference......yes, focus is a key word for me!)

    Thank you for visiting with us in Seekerville. Please put my name in for Mary's book. Thanks!

  41. I brought a bundle of balloons for the party to add color and also sound--if we pop them. :-) Happy 8th Birthday, Seekerville!!!! Thanks, Amy, for joining our party!


  42. Hi Amy! Your tips are totally helpful for beginners. I'm a reader and student so I really have to talk too. I suggest compiling all of the materials that we used and questions that are unanswered to be read over again ( if there is any). The best thing after post conference is the impact in our lives. We can ponder the discussion over and reevaluate the conclusion in the conference. I hope this helps.

  43. Happy birthday Seekerville!!! πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‚πŸŽπŸŽπŸŽπŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽŠπŸŽŠ

  44. Good morning, Amy! Your class is one I was going to take, but then I couldn't make it to the conference at all. I'm going to get the audio, though, so I'll still be able to glean from your wisdom. :-) Thanks for your time here, and as soon as I publish this comment, I'm heading to your blog.

  45. You know, this is my first year in FOREVER that I haven't yet been to a single writers conference. The timing just never worked out.

    I may be in withdrawal.

  46. Welcome, Amy!! Thank you for sharing these tips with us and I hope you're having a fabulous Friday. :)
    I'm sure the Bethany House Authors appreciate you very much.
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

    p.s. Everyone please enjoy a warm peach cobbler I've baked, along with a Georgia pecan pie. Celebrating Friday AND my daughter's b'day! :)

    ALSO, Myra - - I think I'm in withdrawal too - - no conferences for me this year, but already looking forward to next year's!

  47. Happy birthday, Seekerville!

    Amy, I love that you are recommending Prezi!!!

    God bless you,

  48. Hi Amy! And Mary!
    Just dropping in for a quick minute to wish Seekerville a Happy Birthday!! And to say how wonderful Amy is to work with. So patient and willing to answer all my questions!
    Thanks, Amy! In a couple of months, we'll be working on the next book!
    Now to finish book 3!

  49. The first conference I went to, I was incredibly aware of the money it cost, I'd never spent money on my writing before, beyond contest entry fees and computer purchases.
    I went to that conference and I WORKED. I got every appointment I could, and back then, I think 2005, you could get a LOT. Two for signing up, but other appointments opened up and I grabbed them.
    And every breakfast and lunch? Or lunch and dinner? had those tables hosted by an agent/author/editor I hustled to get agents and editors I wanted.
    I came home with 15? or so requests for full manuscripts and I had the ALL in the mail within a week. I was INTENSE about responding fast so hopefully they'd remember me.

    Out of all of that........I got one request for one full book.
    Yes, forget the 14 others. But then it was one more than I'd had before, from Barbour Heartsong.
    I sent that back in FAST.
    I spent a year going back and forth with them, editing, talking, whatever they wanted and one year later...........they bought a different book. Golden Days.

    All very strange and I was never so thrilled in my LIFE. Absolutely DO IT! Follow up! Prove to those who asked something of you that you've got a great work ethic. That you can be depended on to respond quickly and on time. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE to slip through that door to publication.

  50. Marianne, do not EVER forget that we LOVE READERS at Seekerville!

  51. Melissa I've heard percentages like that, too and I'm stunned.

    Please, if you've got a request do NOT fail to respond. This is a moment when all your fears coalesce and it's so easy to duck the request, find an excuse, go back to revising rather than responding because the book is 'just not ready yet.'

    This is a moment to find all your courage and forget on ahead in your career. If you're making up excuses not to respond you need to take a hard look at yourself and ask why? Are you involved in self-defeating behavior?
    Are you scared of rejection? Scared of acceptance.


  52. Jill I find all conferences overwhelming.
    I really am happy back at my house, alone with my computer.

    I think that's just part of being a writer, to be content with that. If you're not then you're going to have a time of it being a writer.

  53. Janet Ferguson, for me honestly I'm the worlds most disorganized person. To counter that I make lists, I send myself email messages, I tape reminders on the bathroom mirror. I call them COPING DEVICES.

    If I don't write it down...someplace I'm sure to see it...everything gets lost in the haze of my mind.

    I think this is partially undiagnosed ADD and partially because I wander around daydreaming about life in 1880 Texas all the time.

  54. HEY DEBH? the proposal I'm working on RIGHT NOW has a heroine named Deborah Harkness. :)

    Tell me now if you don't want to be in a book!

    Also understand that the character will be NOTHING like you. You're not NEAR crazy enough to be a fictional character. LOL

  55. Mary, I email messages to myself all the time, too! Siri helps when in the car to take notes!I understand suffering from hazy, daydreaming, ADD-like brain.

  56. Great ideas. I haven't been to any conferences but will keep this in mind for the future. Please enter me in the drawing.

  57. AW Patti Jo, the day has been a true success when the warm peach cobbler shows up!


  58. Janet, you KNOW we should form a club..........but we'd never get around to actually DOING IT!


  59. Great tips, Amy!

    I didn't go to this year's conference, but other years I've spent the weekend being a sponge - just absorbing everything. But when I come home, I'm so full of information, it's hard to sort through it!

    Great tips for next year. I'll attend with a more discerning mind this time. :)

    And please put me in for the drawing! I'm in the middle of "Now and Forever" right now, and I need to finish the trilogy!

  60. What great tips for any conference you attend. It is easy to come home and forget what you learned or let those handouts collect dust.
    I would love to win a copy of Fire and Ice. Thanks for the chance.
    Becky B.

  61. And Nashville next year for ACFW!! And its a month earlier! So all you teachers can attend.

  62. Thanks for this post. I will keep these in mind. I have not attended a conference but I learned this year of one that is close to my home so if I can afford it I hope to go to the Blue Ridge Writers Conference at Ridgecrest in North Carolina. Of course Nashville is less than 8 hours away. I just need to ask the Lord to provide the money needed.

    I would love to win a copy of Mary's book.

  63. Patti Jo I am going to gain ten pounds this week eating all the peach cobbler you are bringing. I can't resist or say no. sigh. Thanks a bunch.

    I'm sure Amy and the Bethany folk will enjoy. Hmmmm maybe I should just let them have my share.

  64. Good point Vince, It is always wonderful to have people paying attention or at least pretending to. Giving seminars is very scary especially when you are giving it to peers.

    btw, you humbled me yesterday with your comment. Thank you dear friend.

  65. Evelyn I love all the little birthday icons. I need to learn how to do that. smile Maybe you can share how you do that.

    Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone. And special thanks to Amy for posting with us today in spite of her extremely busy schedule. We love and appreciate the wonderful tips you have given us. What a birthday treat that is. smile

  66. Janet that is a great tip. Yes, meet as many before the workshop begins and it helps you as the presenter also.

    When I go to a workshop given by editors, I like to go up to the editor afterward and thank them for taking the time. Often they hand out business cards and say to send the manuscript and say you were at the workshop. Do you do that Amy?

    Another thing I like to do is send a thank you note to the editors I've met. Seriously, they are so busy and the fact they take time to come to a conference and meet authors is just plain humbling. Thanks again.

  67. Hi Amy! I wanted to stop by and say hello and wish the Seekers happy birthday! I had the privilege of attending Amy and Melissa's class at ACFW and it was AMAZING! For me, trying to manage social media while marketing the new book and working on the next is like herding cats--going in a million directions at once. So I was excited to learn ways to plan ahead and prioritize my social media that would allow me to get more organized and take a breather once in awhile. Yeah! It's also nice to know I don't have to "do it all." Sometimes doing less and being better at it, is way more effective. Such good advice, ladies!

    Mary, your novel looks gorgeous! I look forward to reading Fire and Ice. :)

  68. Hi Amy! Thanks for the article! I'd absolutely love to win a copy of Fire & Ice! It looks so good!! It's been on my Amazon wish list for a since I read Now & Forever haha

  69. I took a session once on active listening, and as a presenter, or speaker, I love having people react to stories, tidbits, emotions, etc. If they laugh when they're supposed to, nod, sigh or get emotional, I know I've got them engaged.

    So trying to do that same thing with writing is a natural step. To engage the reader the same way we engage the audience.

    For me that always comes back to the mix of humor and pathos.

    And possibly alcohol is involved.

  70. Use it as an inspiration, a brainstorm-starter, or something to try and see if it works…but not as a command or a foolproof strategy. You’ll get the most out of conference material if you adapt it to fit your needs, writing style, and schedule.

    Oh boy, that is true of blog posts, speaker presentations at writers' meetings, craft books ... on and on. So many of your points can be applied to non-conference, too. Thanks!

    Nancy C

  71. Happy Birthday, Seekerville! Mary, you know how much I love ya! Your posts are always the best! You make me smile :)

  72. Sooooo the conference is in Nashville next year. Do you know the exact dates? As a teacher and aspiring writer that sounds very exciting. By the way, I went to a teacher convention there last year and the convention center is located in the heart of country music history. I saw several famous sites during lunch hour...our family calls it blitzing the museums when we speed visit important places.
    I don't need to win Mary's book, I've already read it and it's another winner. Don't miss it! Here's wishing Seekers another Happy birthday celebration.

  73. Hi Amy,
    I'm sorry to admit that I missed your panel in person. Luckily, I can listen to it on the thumb-drive. I keep track of my submissions and such in on of my famous composition notebooks. Sorry if that sounds like a broken record to some of you. I use those notebooks for everything! I really tried to get the hang of online solutions, but it took too long to sink into my head and when I don't use the tool every day, I forget how to use it. My handy, dandy notebooks fit the bill!

  74. Hi Amy, thanks for the great tops. I wish I could have attended your class, but there are so many to choose from. Thanks for the link to your blog. I need to check that out as well. I'd love to he entered in the giveaway.

  75. Bettie, the conference is MUCH EARLIER next year. It's August 24-28. And, around here, most teachers are already back to work.

  76. You know I simply devour all these wonderful conference posts! I cannot wait for the chance to attend. Having an action plan for after and during is definitely a plus. Thank you so much! Thanks Amy!

  77. Dear Amy, This post is especially on target with me because I am at my local romance writing chapter's annual conference as I type this. (And a huge thank you to Seeker Debby Giusti for presenting a marvelous workshop on brainstorming.) I admit there is a lot of information to process as there is still another day and a half to go, but all of your steps about what to do post-conference are now in the back of my mind for later this week. Thank you so much.

  78. Great info. Please enter me in the drawing!

  79. Hi, Amy!! Thanks for your post - I enjoyed it, as well as seeing your pictures. As a new member of one of Bethany's read/review programs, I'd like to thank you for all you do for the members of those programs, as well as the authors!!

    Please drop my name in the drawing for a copy of 'Fire & Ice'!! Thank you, Seekers!!

  80. AMY!! So excited to see you in Seekerville :) The Bethany House blog is one of my favorites to read as a reader/writer--and Seekerville, of course!

    I haven't attended any conferences like the ACFW, but in general my tips would be:

    1. Follow through (it's amazing how many people don't...) and
    2. Say thank you! (write a note, call, send an email, whatever works for you)

    Thanks for coming to Seekerville, and I'd love to hop into the drawing. Ruthy, loving the Midwestern theme today since I'm here in chilly but beautiful Indiana!! Mmm, hot apple cider would be perfect right now...

  81. Dear Amy,
    I was there for your whole presentation with wonderful Melissa Tagg and it was great. Your enthusiasm and organization were perfect and I felt like I had answers to two burning questions that I'd brought with me about marketing. It was so helpful to hear directly from you what's actually important (rather than from a class where they're guessing online) and I'm already putting some of the thoughts into place with my upcoming new website launch. I've decided based on input from you and other wonderful editors to focus more on some areas, and table others to a couple of years from now. Great strategic input. Most of all I enjoyed watching you and Amy and your natural joy of the craft, inspiring others, sharing your stories. I may get the tapes just to "soak in" even more. A very worthwhile day (even thought the chandeliers sometimes shook a great deal from the planes taking off since I think the room was under the tarmac!). Thank you for this great post and recap too.

  82. Sounds like a great conference! Where do you learn about these things? I am out of the loop.

  83. Congrats, Rhonda!! Any day now, we're going to receive the news that you have a contract.

    Prayers for all those entering contests!!

    My fave treats to eat while reading are: popcorn, tea, anything chocolate. Thanks for the giveaway opportunities!!

  84. Conferences are a real treat for us writers. We rub shoulders with so many other writers, and discuss the craft on breaks, at lunch and even in the elevator. I find the people I meet all share most of the same thoughts and doubts and it's like therapy hearing their problems and goals. I become so inspired I develop a real passion to come home and sit in that chair and write. No matter how many you attend you always learn one more new piece of information and it helps you keep up on the ever changing market. Thanks for sharing Amy.

  85. Sandra, no, I didn't hand out cards, but Melissa and I emailed everyone the print handouts so they'd have a digital version...and our contact info if they had questions later.

    And thanks for the endorsements, Kate and Elizabeth! :) It was great to have you! And to Natalie, Meghan, Terry, Lyndee and any other ACFW attenders I missed-if you do end up listening to the class and want the handouts we keep mentioning, feel free to email me ( and I'll send 'em your way!