So, You Just Got Back from a Writer’s Conference. What’s Next?

next step

On Friday, I went to the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas. While I was only able to attend for one day, it was a great experience! My day was filled with meetings with editors and lovely conversations with other writers and fun workshops! If you’re like me, your head is probably still spinning with information. After the conference, you have to ask yourself where you are in your writing journey and think about what’s your next step based on the information that you gleaned from the conference.

Wherever you are on your writing journey, I thought it might be helpful if I jotted down the steps that I have learned so far about the “order” of how one creates a novel:

1. Educate yourself on what’s in the market. You can have the best idea for a novel, but if that genre or era is being put on the back burner due to market saturation, agents and publishers will most likely be hesitant to sign you. Learn from my mistake and research the market before you start writing your first novel.

2. Write that novel. If you’re serious about writing, you need to sit down and map out your plot structure and outline and get to typing! Start off by giving yourself small word count goals to meet each day and after a lot of discipline and diligence, your pages will grow into chapters.

3. Keep learning by attending conferences and reading blogs by editors and agents and use what you’ve learned to refine your novel.

4. Pressing send. Once your manuscript is complete, send out your query letters to agents and when requested, send out the proposal. Remember to celebrate the small victories of requests because each victory brings you that much closer to being published. Find out more about what to do while you wait for your agent.

5. Sign with an agent! You did it! Having an agent is such a comfort. After going at my writing journey on my own, it’s so nice to know that I have an agent on my side who can answer all my questions and help guide my book into the hands of editors.

6. While you wait, build your platform. For my first conference at Mount Hermon, I was trying to figure out how to sign with an agent and now that I have an amazing agent, the main question that I asked the editors is what can I do to set myself up for the next step in writing? Over and over again, I heard that you can have a great novel, but if you don’t have a platform, it will hurt your chances on becoming published.

I suppose that my main hesitancy with building an author Facebook page was that…I’m not an author quite yet. I’m a writer, but not an author. However, from the instruction of those who know so much more than I do about this process, I received this gold nugget: build it before they come. When it comes time to signing, I’m going to need to have the foundation already there. I may not have a book cover to promote yet, but at least I will have a landing page for it when my book cover dreams come true!

7. Sign with a publisher! I haven’t reached this point yet, but I know that when I do sign, I’m going to be so very glad that I worked on building landing pages beforehand!

Happy writing!

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About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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