All right, I admit it. Since last year, I’ve been rather jaded when it comes to writing conferences. But I suppose it actually began about three years ago.

I had sold 6 books by that time and 3 of them had released. Considering how many other authors said speaking comes with writing, I figured speaking at conferences was my next step. So, I assembled topics on which I was skilled and presented them to every known writing conference where I had any contact with the committees.

Each one of them came back with a “no, thank you” or a “sorry, we already have someone teaching on that topic” or a “sorry, we don’t have any openings.”

For three years, I continued to submit my requests to speak and attempted to determine where there might be a need. But each time, I was turned down. It started to feel like a duplication of my writing career, where the bigger houses rejected me in spite of being a multi-published author.

So, I had some thinking and praying to do. At first, I was hurt and disillusioned, thinking I needed to become a more “known” name or get to know the “right” people in order to travel in the “accepted” circles of authors and speakers. I began believing I hadn’t crossed some imaginary rite of passage that only I knew and had created. After some time spent in reflection, I realized it just wasn’t time yet.

But that didn’t mean I’d give up. I continued to speak to smaller writing groups, at women’s ministry events and various other venues where I could fill a need. That way, I could keep up my speaking from growing stagnant and continue to build a resume.

Another disillusionment from conferences came in the form of rejection after rejection because I didn’t have an agent. Despite being a multi-published author with 8 books in print and over 100,000 copies of my books sold, I’d been feeling like I was a unpublished author starting from scratch all over again. The editors were all saying they wanted a publish-ready manuscript that had not yet been sold before they would even consider my writing. But while under contract with my current publisher, I didn’t have time to polish my other manuscripts and get them publish-ready.

Needless to say, it began to affect my enthusiasm and even my passion for writing. I started to believe I’d always be “stuck” in mass market, category romance.

That’s when CCWC came into play. For those unfamiliar with this conference, it’s the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference, and it takes place every year in May at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Several of us board members with ACFW Colorado were present this year, and it was an amazing conference!

For the first time in two years, I finally received some encouraging feedback, and multiple invitations to submit my work, despite not having signed with an agent. And although we haven’t “inked” the deal, the agent I’ve been praying would show interest gave me permission to say we are seriously talking should anyone ask if I have representation. Since it’s not official, I won’t give the name of this agent, but it’s looking really good.

I just have to write another book before the end of August. Simple. 🙂

Oh, and two editors gave me their business cards and permission to bypass the “normal” submission and grow straight to them with this new series.

After too many rejections to count, being turned down to speak at every major writing conference, and feeling like I was missing the “secret” to moving forward in my career, I finally have some great leads and a step up. I’m on the next rung on the ladder, and I’m sure it’s only a small nugget of all that’s in store.

So, if you’re wondering whether or not to attend a writer’s conference, and if it’s worth the investment of your funds, I’m here to tell you to go! It IS worth it. And if you can’t afford one of the national ones due to distance or cost, start small and look for regional ones that might be a bit closer to home. They’re out there. I promise. You just have to discover that diamond in the rough.

And if you are having trouble finding one near home, let us know. We’ll be happy to help you locate one for you.

Now, how about those of you who HAVE attended a conference. Any success stories that might not otherwise have happened if you hadn’t gone? Please share.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since she was a child. Today, she is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart. They have 1 daughter and a border collie. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing, is a columnist for the ACFW e-zine and writes other articles as well. Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.

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