Sunday, August 10, 2008
Conference Renews My Enthusiasm
This past week, I attended the Catholic Marketing Network Conference as president of the Catholic Writers' Guild. This is a trade show of vendors of everything form Catholic books to rosaries and icons. I and several others went to promote our books and the CWG in general.
Lisa Mladinich, an officer in the Guild, made all the arrangements, set the booth up the first day, then picked several of us at the airport and ferried us to the conference and hotel. If there's anything better than having a Lady Friday for a conference, it's having one who's positive, enthusiastic and a joy to be around. Thanks, Lisa!
I could blog for days about the conference--and did for the CWG website. I'm also writing an tips article that will feature on The Writers' Chatroom Newsletter and in Faith-Filled Fiction's next issues. Today, I'd like to tell you what the conference did for me personally.
The CMN had given us a terrific opportunity to have a booth and meet iwth other publsihers and booksellers. Plus, six other Guild members would be at the conference for a book signing. Through some help of a dear friend and the support of my husband and parents, I was able to attend. However, I'd been feeling a bit low lately about the CWG, my book Infinite Space, Infinite God, and my writing in general. Objectively, I know I'm suffering from impatience: the CWG has a lot of great projects that are moving forward at a snail's pace; my book isn't selling like I'd hoped (despite the great reviews in popular targeted magazines), and I'd thought by now I'd have an agent or a contract with a major publisher. So I boarded the airplane enthusiastic about the conference and ready to give it my most energetic efforts, but wondering if it was worth the expense I--and my friends and family--were paying.
Oh, it was!
The vendors and the book sellers who came to the conference were so enthusiastic about the Guild. We as authors knew some kind of organization like ours was needed, but to hear that publishers and store owners wanted it, too, gave me a renewed optimism for the Guild. It also helped to hear how amazed they were at how much we accomplished in just 8 months. Sometimes, it's hard to see progress when you're involved in the project. Even more, the gratitude I heard from other members for the work I (and Ann Lewis, our webmistress and VP) have done touched my heart. I'm inspired to do even more for these wonderful people.
Also inspiring was the response my book got. Too often have I heard that Catholic SF has no good market--it's too Catholic for the secular and too SF for the Catholic bookstore. Plenty of book reviews and four secular awards (or finalists in awards) has disabused me of the "too Catholic" notion. At the conference, when I said "Catholic sci-fi," vendors grew thoughtful--and excited. "I have a nephew..." "There's a customer who..." were comments I heard. One person asked about it for a book club. I gave away about 15 books at the signing--which was what all of us did, give them to vendors--and I'm pretty sure I'll see some sales.
By the end, I was working the conference like a chipmunk on caffeine. (Yeah, baby!) People asked me how I was managing such energy, especially at the 6 p.m. Thursday meeting about the Guild. the answer was simple: they'd energized me.
Alas, no agent or large publisher there would be interested in what I have, but that's okay. This conference gave me a much needed boost of enthusiasm for my writing. No matter where I publish, there are people whose lives I will touch.
So, yeah. It was worth the effort and expense, not just for me personally, but for the members of the Guild who will see a happier more enthusiastic leader with a renewed sense of direction, and for the family and friends who will not hear me whining about my writing career. (For a while, anyway--no guarantees!)