By Jeff Gerke
2010 FCWC faculty member
You should go to a Christian writers’ conference. They're wonderful. Where else can you find hundreds of other weird people like yourself? [grins innocently]
Seriously, writers’ conferences are great places to meet like-minded people who want to write and who love the Lord. You can laugh and weep with these folks because they understand you like perhaps few other people in your life do.
Conferences are places to attend seminars by experts in the field you're trying to break into: acquisitions editors, accomplished writers, influential agents.
Sometimes, depending on the conference, you can even catch VPs of publishing, sought-after speakers, and that holy grail of Christian writing: famous authors. I've had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with the likes of Frank Peretti and Jerry Jenkins at some of these conferences.
It's a tremendous place to network too. Sometimes "who you know" really can help you out. If you meet an agent and you two hit it off, who knows but that a beautiful professional relationship might just be born. If you meet an aspiring author like yourself and you critique each other's work, who knows what might happen if that author gets published and is willing to put in a good word for you with her editor?
Best of all, Christian writers’ conferences are the only place I know of where you can pitch your book idea directly to the acquisitions editors at major publishing houses, even if you don't have an agent. Almost every CBA house is closed now to unagented authors. The Christian writers’ conference is your way to bypass that restriction and get right to the person who can get you in the publishing door.
The classes and seminars and panels you can attend at these are often worth the price of admission unto themselves.
- Imagine learning plotting from James Scott Bell, Writer's Digest author and Christian novelist.
- Imagine learning how to market yourself from Rebecca Seitz, a professional publicist who works with all the major Christian houses.
- Imagine learning suspense from master storyteller Angela Hunt.
And did I mention the wonderful people you'll meet?
Some of these conferences (like the Florida Christian Writers' Conference) are held at beautiful retreat locations too, giving you the chance to get into the mountains or the forest or the beach when you're not in class.
But you might be having too much fun yukking it up with your new lifelong friends--or pitching to editors--to do much sightseeing.
After you attend one Christian writers’ conference you will be hooked. You'll think, "That's the best thing I've ever done for my writing career." And you'll be back next year.
Attend a Christian writers’ conference. You won't be sorry.
Jeff Gerke has been called the de facto gatekeeper of Christian speculative fiction. After writing his own speculative fiction and spearheading the launch of a fiction imprint dedicated to Christian speculative fiction at a major Christian publishing company, Jeff branched out on his own to launch Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction.