By Nichole Giles
On Saturday, June 6th, I had the opportunity to go to a writer’s conference put on by a local publisher, Cedar Fort—otherwise known as CFI.
Originally, I wasn’t sure I’d take the time. I go to conferences pretty regularly and since (up to this point) I didn’t have any specific plans to submit to this publisher, I wasn’t positive I was willing to give up my Saturday to go.
The cost for the conference was minor. They only asked $25 to help cover expenses. But a lot of my friends were going and I love socializing with other writers. Still, I’ve had lots going on and could think of several other things I could do with my day. In the end though, I decided I should go because every conference has something to offer, I’ve never regretted going to one, and I am not so over confident in myself that I believe I have nothing left to learn. So the day before we left town for a family vacation, I stuck a check in the mail and registered.
Let me just tell you that I have never in my life got so much out of $25. The conference started at 10:00 am—with plenty of drinks and snacks provided—and the speakers were amazing.
First, Doug Johnston made us feel sincerely welcome as he introduced the first speaker of the day, Acquisitions editor, Jeffery Marsh.
Jeffery gave us several tips on how to write a publishable book including writing to an audience, learning the art of storytelling, and writing in order to teach and touch many people. After his speech, Jeffery spent the rest of the day in pitch sessions with anyone who was willing to sign up for a time. (A huge undertaking, I understand.)
The next speaker, Author Abel Keogh, author of Room for Two, talked about starting a website, writing blog entries, and the hows and whys of both. He was interesting and informative, and by the time he was finished, I was excited to go home and figure out how to make my website more interesting. Plus, before I left, I HAD to buy his book. (I started reading it when I got home that night—so far it’s awesome.)
Janet Jensen, author of Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys, then taught us about marketing, putting her emphasis on creating an attractive media kit. Now, most of us write just for the sake of writing. We don’t necessarily have a clue what it takes to actually sell our book—which is why this conference was so informative and wonderful for so many of us. I’d bet that more than half the people in the room didn’t have a clue what a media kit even is. But Janet made sure we all knew, and by the end of her speech, we had some ideas about what we needed to do to help sell our books—as well as ourselves as authors.
Let me tell you a little bit about Doug Johnston. He’s the publicist for CFI, and also a member of our writing group, Author’s Incognito. He was the driving force behind the entire conference, from setting it up, to advertising, to arranging speakers and lunch—Doug was the MAN of the day. On top of everything else he had going that day, Doug gave an incredible lesson on publicity—complete with a PowerPoint presentation with an endless supply of lists. For his speech, I was ultra, way, so super glad I had my laptop booted up because he was short on time and there is no way I would ever have gotten all four pages of notes I took as he spoke. (I could have gotten more except he ran out of time and had to skip over a few things.)
Did I mention lunch? The box lunches were catered—I believe the company was called Apple Spice Junction—and I don’t know about anyone else, but I was thrilled with the different choices offered. I chose whole grain bread with a mix of sandwich meat, a fruit salad, and a chocolate chip cookie. I noticed that they offered several other bread and salad choices to accommodate the wide range of people in attendance. And I have to send out a huge thanks—Doug must’ve read my mind—because in one of the many coolers filled with drinks I found a can of Dr. Pepper, which is something I’ve never seen provided at any other conference. Woo hoo! Candace Salima and I both cheered.
The last speaker of the day was author and motivational speaker, Eloise Owens. By the time it was her turn, I fully understood why they left her for last, and gave her a four-hour time slot. Oh. My. Gosh! She was fantastic. I realize that she is a professional motivational speaker, and that is what she’s trained to do. But boy, she does it well. I was so inspired by the things she said, by the stories she told, and by simply being in the room with her. Not only did I come away having decided to someday learn how to surf (to figure out this part, you’ll have to read her book, Get Off The Beach!), but also I walked out of that place absolutely determined to be uncommon. Different. And in Eloise’s words, weird.
A few of Eloise’s words of wisdom: “You always go where you look…We are writers. We have the opportunity to move people. In topics where you might never expect it, to impact people in profound ways. Get clear…get excited…tap in…write from the right!”
After an entire day of learning and being motivated, we were gifted with our very own copy (part of our conference fees) of Eloise’s book, Get Off The Beach!
WOW! Okay, let me say that again. Wow! That was a great conference. It was an excellent value for my money, lunch was good, the speakers were informative and motivational—not to mention entertaining—and books were provided too. I went home hoping to someday get to work with that publishing company. Way to go, CFI (and Doug). I’m already wondering when you’re planning to do it again.
To learn more about CFI visit their website at: www.cedarfort.com