I attended my first author conference on May 4-5th and it was above and beyond what I could’ve imagined. Before I was even ready to release my book, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Alessandra Torre was hosting a conference in Dallas called Inkers Con. It was going to feature a handful of bestselling authors acting as speakers, many whom I read regularly as well as other experts in the fields of marketing and editing. At first I thought, “I’m a new author…maybe I should hold back this year and wait until next year after I have a little more of this author stuff figured out.” Then I happened to be speaking to two of my best friends and they were practically yelling at me via text insisting that I book my ticket immediately so after a little thought I decided that they were right and I needed to go. I bought my ticket that night, two and a half months before the event.
I’m not gonna lie…I was more than a little bit nervous about going to this conference. I have one book published and I feel so very lost on so many things that I’m sure other authors just seem to know. I was also traveling alone and that in itself can be intimidating. Still, I kept reminding myself what a good experience this was going to be and that is was really important to my growth as an author and as a person.
I met the most incredible group of people! My first night there, I ended up at dinner with a bunch of other romance authors and it was amazing being able to talk to everyone about where they’re at in their writing careers, what they know/don’t know and all the other ins and outs of being an author. For once, I felt like I had people who really understood what I was talking about when I talked about releasing my first book and all the stress that went along with it as well as the fear/writer’s block I’ve been experiencing the past several months in trying to write the second book.
I got to meet authors that I’ve been following for years and actually talk to them. Meghan Quinn and Aly Martinez both made the time when I ran into them to talk to me about my writing and offered advice. I can’t even express what it meant to me to have authors of their caliber ask me about my writing. Every author there was so laid back and happy to talk to any of us, sign books, take pictures–it was really incredible.
I learned so much that I felt like my brain was going to explode! There’s still a lot that I feel like is over my head especially when it comes to ads but now I understand the importance of setting reasonable goals for myself, I’ve learned that I need to build a backlist (a collection of work). Writing should be 80% of a writer’s focus and 20% should be everything else. If you don’t have books written then all the other stuff really doesn’t matter. I’ve also learned the importance of creating my brand and staying true to it. I’m not an outliner or plotter, I’m definitely more of a “pantser” in the sense that I have ideas in my head for where I want the story to go or I get ideas for specific scenes but I don’t plan everything out ahead of time…it comes when it comes.
The most rewarding thing I took away from that weekend was the connections that I made with the people at the conference. I now feel like I have a new group of friends that I can talk to about writing, who are going to check on me to make sure I’m hitting whatever goals I set for myself and that I’m going to do the same for. If I stayed home I never would’ve experienced any of that. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
One of the things that was repeated throughout the conference was how lonely writing can be. We have to really kind of shut ourselves off from the rest of the world in order to focus in on what we need to so that we can get our words down. You are responsible for everything…the plot, the characters, the dialogue, everything. Is it scary to step out of our safe places and go venture out to meet new people and experience new things? HELL YES. Those experiences usually end up being the most rewarding.
Now that I’m home I’ve been focused on working on book 2 and I mean really working on it. I give myself a daily word count that I have to hit and if I go over it, great but as long as I hit it I’m good. I feel like I’m never really writing enough, but considering most nights I don’t get in front of my laptop until after 9pm, I’ve gotta cut myself a little slack. The best thing is that many of the people I met, we keep in touch daily and check in on each other’s progress and push each other. I never had author friends before and I never knew how badly I needed them.
I’m really proud to say that “The One That Got Away” has sold over 100 copies! I never imagined I’d get anywhere close to that number so thank you to everyone who went out and bought it and who talked to other people about it and got them to buy it. Words could never truly express my gratitude.
I’m going to be posting updates on my work in progress and lots of other things this summer! Thanks for stopping by!