Monday, October 5, 2009

Lurking through Conferences

When you can't afford the conference registration fee and the conference you'd love to attend is being hosted in your home state, and friends from all around the country will be there...

And you won't because of that silly money issue...what do you do?

You politely enter through the front doors of the hotel and join the fun after hours : )

Yes, that was my dilemma this year at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference (ACFW) hosted in Denver, Colorado. So close to home, how could I just turn my back on the event of the year?

All of the pieces fell into place perfectly this year:

  • I have my manuscript currently under consideration, so I didn't have to try for an editor appointment;

  • Saving the conference fee now allows me to purchase the workshop tapes to enjoy all through the year while walking the dog after work;

  • I lurked the conference with two good friends who also could not afford the fee;

  • If you are familiar with the Seekerville blog, we are 15 women who banded together 4 years ago to encourage each other through to publication. None of us were published when the group formed, now only 4 are left. Anyway, this is the first time all 15 of us have been at the same conference together! Couldn't miss that!

Don't get me wrong, attending the conference the conventional method is really the best way, but in these economical times, I really had to weigh my options. I'm still thanking God for bringing the conference to me when I couldn't go to it : )

AND, the beauty of the entire experience stemmed from what my friends and I could do for the other attendees! Since we couldn't attend the workshops, Tina scouted out the best places to take visitors and we escorted groups of conference attendees and/or their spouses with a little time on their hands on tours of Denver. Tina and I had vehicles so transportation was not a problem. We investigated the light rail system in Denver with great fun and success. We tried the free shuttle service in downtown Denver to make the most of our Friday evening excursion to Ted Turner's Montana Grill.

Of course, night time gave me the opportunity to socialize with the Seekers and other conference attendees. How fun was that! I mingled with friends, authors, agents, editors and anyone else who bumped into me. Hi Margie Lawson! Great seeing you!!

Okay, truth to tell. I haven't stayed up until one in the morning for 4 consecutive nights in a long time. By Sunday afternoon, I was cooked. But I had a smile on my face : )

I attended the booksigning and purchased books. Since we had so many Seekers signing their books that afternoon, I took tons of pictures while they did their jobs : )

One more perk. In these days of additional fees on airlines, I loaded up my SUV with extras from the conference for my buds and mailed them out the next day so they didn't have to lug them onto the airplanes and pay far more than postage just to bring goodies home.

What did I get out of my conference experience? A lot. I found it good for the soul to just kick back and socialize without the rush of trying to get your money's worth out of the event. I had nothing to pitch, so I chatted with editors and agents on a social level. I loved providing entertainment for those visiting Denver.

All in all, the ACFW conference was an event not to be missed.

And I didn't : )


Theresa said...

How resourceful! Actually, I wish I'd thought of that myself.

When you've been around the "circuit" as long as we have--and have made so many writing pals nationwide--the networking and conference "energy" is my major motivation for attending conferences lately.

Well done! And best of luck with your editor request, girl. And you ARE querying at least a dozen others while you wait for her to read it, right?

Asks T, the submission slut

Donnell said...

Oh, my gosh, Audra, not that you didn't already know this, but you're a genius. I agree attending the conference is probably the best way... but desperate times and all that.... and the fact that you took people around, and mailed their packages, you did, in essence, volunteer/contribute to the success of that conference. Well done.

My friend couldn't afford to go to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this year, so she volunteered. I've always said, volunteering (especially for introverts) enables you to give, feel useful and actually get more than you give back.

Would you agree? And good luck with the editor requests, and what T. said... Keep submitting!

Leslie Ann said...

Hey Miss Audra,
What a great way for this all to come together! Resourceful aren't you.

I'm definitely going to remember this as a way to network. There is never enough time at conference to just get to know people, be they agents, editors (both of whom are people, really :)) and other conference goers/presenters.

Well done. And good luck on the query. It's a fantastic story, within a great trilogy of stories.


Audra Harders said...

Theresa - I could lurk only because I had overnight accomodations : ) If I had to foot the bill on the hotel, that would have nixed my fun by a few days : )

I had a great time. Try it!

Donnell - Absolutely! You get back tons more than you put in! I love volunteering at conferences when I can afford them. What a sense of belonging.

I think having the ability to give to my friends, and anyone else who tagged along, rides and other amenities only added to my enjoyment.

Audra Harders said...

Leslie -- Maybe RWA Nationals?? The Opryland Hotel is a real hoot!

Margie Lawson said...

Hello Five Scribes!

Audra - I had such fun chatting with you, late-night, at ACFW Glad you had an opportunity to connect, support, and enjoy the conference camaraderie.

Happy outcomes with your editor requests!

Hugs to all five fabulous scribes!

All smiles.......Margie