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Conference Follow Through

Conference Follow Through

Did an agent or an editor request a query, proposal, or—be still my heart—your full manuscript at the conference you attended recently? Did you send what they requested?

The second question may sound odd. But I hear the stats once: 7 out of 10 writers who received requests at conferences don’t follow through. 

Why? Beats me. I never had any problem submitting, which is why I stopped counting at two hundred rejection letters. Let’s explore the possibilities on why a writer wouldn’t submit. I can only think of one: fear of rejection?

Let’s face it, if you don’t submit, you’ll never get published. Your dream agent or editor is not going to come knock on your door and beg for your manuscript. Even if they requested it at conference. You have to submit.

Agents and editors don’t make requests at conferences for fun. They make requests because you or your story, or both piqued their interest. If  7 out of 10 writers don’t follow through, be one of the 3. Increase your odds of getting published.

I have this friend. I’ll call her LINDA! Linda goes to ACFW almost every year. When she attends, we room together. She never has anything ready to submit. But at some point, she gets excited and sits in the bathroom, while I sleep and puts together her one sheets or she accidentally makes a pitch when she happens to sit with an agent or editor at breakfast or lunch and they ask what she’s working on.

Inevitably, in spite of herself, Linda gets requests. But she’s only followed through once. She got rejected, but the editor gave her extensive reasons on why and ideas on how to fix her story. Editors don’t just do that unless they see great potential. Linda has started reworking this story several times, but she never gets done and she never submits.

I’ll admit, it is scary and can jade a starry-eyed writer. The first year I pitched at ACFW, women’s fiction was the big trend. I pitched my one and only women’s fiction.

Tyndale requested my proposal and three chapters. Tyndale! Harvest House requested my proposal and three chapters. Harvest House! I rushed home, polished my pages a final time and sent them off. Surely with both of these big publishers interested, one of them would buy it. Maybe there would even be a bidding war.

My dreams died with a from rejection letter from both publishers. The next year, I went back to ACFW and pitched my women’s fiction, plus a contemporary romance. I got four or five requests, sent off my proposals and chapters and got rejections. But one of the rejections gave detailed reasons on what was wrong with my story.

The next year, I thought—why bother. But I bothered anyway. I fixed my story and went to ACFW. I pitched two different romances to two different companies. That’s the year, JoAnne Simmons—formerly at Heartsong Presents—requested my full. Heartsong bought White Roses and asked for a series of three books. The other romance I pitched, Rodeo Dust—the first book in my new series recently released.

So, you submit your work and you might get rejected. But you might learn why. I didn’t know it at the time, but if an editor takes the time to tell you what’s wrong with your story, it’s okay to fix it per their suggestions and then ask to resubmit. Some editors will even ask for revisions and offer to take another look at your work if you’re willing to make the changes.

Please, please, please! If you got a request at a conference, follow through. Polish your work til it shines and send it off. Yes, your dreams my get dashed. But maybe you’ll learn something from the experience. And just maybe your dreams will come true.

By the way, Linda, I do love you. And I hope this post challenges you. Now submit that novel!




  1. Sheila12-08-11

    I’m with you Shannon–Linda, get busy!:)

  2. Illene Stewart12-08-11

    I think I can. I think I can. I think…………………..

  3. Avery Cove12-12-11

    The little engine that could—one of my favorite books. 🙂

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