April 11, 2016

Writers Conference Junkie

By Sharron Cosby

I love writers’ conferences. If the family budget allowed and my vacation allotment at work tripled, I’d go to one each month. I need a name tag that reads, “Sharron Cosby, Conference Junkie.”

Conferences provide learning opportunities for beginning writers and seasoned veterans. Workshop leaders flood eager conferees with the latest information on publishing trends and fascinating ways to make our works in process come alive. Networking is a huge plus to participating in writers’ events. Forever friendships are often born at these gatherings. 

I recently attended a conference on a cruise ship. Hey, somebody had to go, right? When I realized the editors represented secular houses, doubts crept in because I write Christian non-fiction. What could they possibly do with me?  Most of them listed steamy romance, erotica, and variations on that subject as their target book needs. I imagined banishment to Deck 12 since my books didn’t fit their lists.

But all was not lost. SourceBook editor, Deb Weckham, spoke to the group about hooks and pitches. How many times had I been told to have an elevator pitch ready for a chance meeting with an editor or agent? My initial inclination was to doodle in the margins of my notebook, but Deb “hooked” me with something new. She discussed two kinds of hooks: high concept and low concept. The high concept hook succinctly states the book’s premise, the one that sells it. The low concept hook elaborates on character development and the story’s subtleties. I figured since she described the hook so well, the pitch explanation would fall flat.

I was wrong.

She said the pitch comes from the outside. Craft a quick summary of the book to grab the reader.

Speak through the eyes of your target reader. Where will she see your book on a shelf?

Deb was my first interview appointment. I took her comments to heart. “Where do you hang your hope?” I began.

She sat forward and said, “I’m hooked. Tell me more.” Pitching to the reader, not the writer did make a difference.

My expectations for this conference differed from those I usually attend. I boarded the ship thinking there was nothing I could offer them and vice versa. But I met other Christian writers who share my writing passion. I gained fresh insights into the craft of writing. I shared my faith with secular agents and editors and received encouraging feedback on my works in process.

Turns out you can teach a conference junkie something new. Gotta go; time to pack for the next conference.
Sharron Cosby, an Alabama transplant to Florida stays true to her southern roots with a “Hey, y’all and Roll Tide Roll.” Encouraging mothers who feel hopeless is an honor Sharron doesn’t take lightly. Her writing and presentations are often recovery related as she shares her family’s journey with her addicted son, although she’s quick to add, with a chuckle, she can talk about something besides recovery. Sharron has been married to her forever boyfriend for forty-one years. Together they have three children and six grandchildren. Dan and Sharron recently purchased a travel trailer and have plans to explore state parks and relax around a campfire. Her social media links include Website:  Twitter: @SharronCosby Facebook: Pinterest:

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