I'm tired today. I've been getting up early a couple days a week to drive my niece to Kindergarten. It doesn't help that I've found it hard to stay on task of late. I probably need a vacation. How about the Mall of America? I hope to get over there next Wednesday evening after flying into Minneapolis. Anyone else want to check it out with me?
Since I'm not feeling creative today, I've dug into your questions and found this one.
How beneficial is it for an unpublished author to go, from an editor's standpoint? We've all heard of the slush pile. If you meet someone at a conference and like their pitch, how much could that potentially speed up the process of getting the mss read? If a mss [manuscript] isn't finished, is it much less effective to go?Well, I would say that the unpublished authors can get the most benefit from a writer's conference like ACFW for these reasons:
Thanks. Cathy S.
1) You are not alone. Writers tend to feel they are odd ducks in the world. A conference lets you meet and fellowship with others who think weird thoughts like "how can I have a guy break his leg?" or "what decade of the 1800s is most fitting for my heroine?"
2) You network. At conference you can meet a friend who shares your passion for a certain type of research and you can swap notes, books, web bookmarks, etc. You can also meet a critique partner, a brainstorming partner, a copy editor, a proofer, an agent, a publishing house editor, and many others who can help you with your writing and increase the likelihood it will be published. Networking also includes other things like prayer partners, which is invaluable for any author.
3) Inspiration. Everywhere you turn at a conference there is potential to hear something that will inspire you from another author's testimony about life in general, to a worship song, to a prayer, to a lunch table topic, to an elevator conversation -- not to mention all the planned class presentations available to you.
Now, I am the introverted editor type (I've barely said hi to any coworkers today for whatever reason) and thinking about a long weekend conference already has me feeling tired, but I go because all of the 3 things above apply to me too. I need the fellowship with others in this crazy business. I need the networking so I can do my job to its best. And I need inspiration to keep me going too.
I'm learning to be more discerning about what manuscripts I'll ask to have sent to me so I don't needlessly waste the the author's or my time. Then when I get home my proposal piles are prioritized by 1) authors I'm already working with, 2) authors represented by my agent friends, 3) authors I've met through conference, and 4) authors coming in through unsolicited means. Publishing spots are limited and my time is pressed. So my response time really varies from priorities 1 to 4.
Publishing is all about timing. If I meet you next weekend and you have just the right story that is fresh and appealing to me, I could find a way to get that contracted and slotted for publication within say 3 months. BUT, I could also meet you, really enjoy your personality and writing style, but not find a story idea from you that currently meets our needs. Then we'll stay in touch, seeing each other again at one or more conferences, until one day you have a new or reworked idea that will suddenly fit my current needs. So it is all foremost in the timing God has for the author and secondly in the timing that is right for the publisher's current market (which can change every 6 months or so).
And your last question: If you present me a story idea at conference that I really like, then I'm going to want to read it while my memories of our meeting and my first impressions about your idea are still fresh. You should be able to send it to me no longer than 3-4 weeks after meeting. Any longer than that I'll likely have forgotten much about our meeting and won't have the same drive to dig in and read your manuscript. Sorry, but it is a fact of the editor's nature.
I feel like I've rambled and let this go too long to make up for missing blog day last week, but I hope something here helps and inspires.
Hope to see many of you next week.