Katy McKenna Raymond  
Personal blog of christian writer Katy McKenna Raymond in Kansas City, Missouri

Personal blog of christian
writer & fallible mom
Katy McKenna Raymond
in Kansas City, Missouri

Katy is represented by
Greg Johnson at
WordServe Literary

Read more Katy at

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Another Great Conference!

I’ve attended five national writing conferences now, and in many ways each one is better than the last.

Maybe you’re a fledgling author who’s wondering how to go about making connections in the publishing industry. Maybe you’ve written some articles you’d like to get in front of an editor, but you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’ve even got a complete book manuscript and can’t figure out the best next step.

First of all, local conferences in your own town or region can be fantastic sources for training and opportunities to meet other writers going through the same stages you are. Often local groups are able to bring in editors from magazines and book publishing companies, and you will get a chance to meet them and perhaps even talk about what you’re working on.

My very first sale ever was to the founder of our local group, who happened at that time to be an editor at the Nazarene Publishing House, which is headquartered here in Kansas City. I wrote an article about how to facilitate a successful home Bible discussion group, which basically ended up being a humorous piece about how some participants in such a group try to take discussions hostage and what to do about it.

It took Jeanette more than a month to respond to my submission, and honestly, I thought she would be bowled over by my amazing wit (and charm!) and purchase the article within 30 seconds of it crossing her desk. I mean, really, people! When would she EVER have another opportunity like the one I was so graciously offering her? She did eventually buy the article, and while I felt a tad sorry for her since she seemed to hesitate slightly over the purchase, I began to realize she had, um, several other pieces to consider simultaneously.

Oh, and maybe my writing wasn’t all that? Nah, that couldn’t be it. Forget I mentioned it.

The truth is, though, that I sold the first article I submitted, and basically all the articles I wrote subsequently. Sometimes, I did have to send them to more than one magazine or newspaper to find the right fit, but they did sell. There’s a possibility, looking back, that I didn’t fully appreciate how easily I managed to get in print. Yes, there is that distinct possibility.

Then one day, I decided to take a fiction writing class at college, taught my a well-published friend of mine, Nancy Moser. She invited each student to submit a scene from a work-in-progress, so that she could critique it. Well, I just knew Nancy would think I was brilliant. Ha! Nancy red-inked me into the next county. Basically, she said that I had not written a “scene” at all, but rather an essay. Yes, I had “told” instead of “shown”—-the kiss of death in novel writing.

I did my best to write what she asked for, and resubmitted. This time, she wrote, “YES. This is a SCENE.” Finally! I almost understood a concept!

It wasn’t long before I really wanted to find a national conference where I could meet published fiction authors, wannabe authors, editors, and agents. And so my annual trek to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference began. What a great association of wonderful, talented folks!

Through a friendship I developed there, I was referred to my terrific agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. If you are at the point in your own writing where you’re seeking an agent, let me just say that it doesn’t hurt one little bit to have made wonderful friends first. I did send my work to several agents without a referral from a published writer, and the rejections came rather quickly. And let me say that I never ASKED a published friend to refer me to an agent. Or to introduce me to one in person. But several friends offered to refer me, and I did NOT turn down the gift of this offer!

The relationships made and fostered through attending a good conference may be the best gift you can give yourself as a writer—-whether you’re struggling to get started or multi-published. I now count writers, editors, and agents among my closest and dearest friends.

This year, I concentrated both on renewing friendships with those I’ve met before and on making appointments with editors I’d never met, pitching my next novel. All the editors at the conference know and are in solid communication with my agent, and so I was encouraged to make sure she sends my book on to them when it’s finished. A couple of them had seen my first novel and turned it down for whatever reason, but they continue to be open to seeing my next book, so I feel good about that.

The publishing industry is not an easy one to break into, especially at the book level. We ate lunch with one editor who actually expressed her opinion that there are far too many books being pubbed, and that her company is acquiring too many titles and not doing them all justice. I have to say I do agree with her.

But that doesn’t keep me from hoping that one day one of my books will rise to the top and make it onto the bookstore shelf (or Kindle or whatever…). I truly hope I can continue to become a more solid writer, that more and more I can put into practice all I’ve learned from the tremendous conferences I’ve been privileged to attend.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for my generous friends in the world of books. Without them, we Wannabe Published Authors wouldn’t have nearly so much fun.

Posted by Katy on 09/23/09 at 07:46 AM
Fallible Comments...
  1. Katy, I so agree--without those published authors to set the bar, I wouldn't have anything to aspire to. I read more from a novel than a dry writing how-to book. Some of my writing books are fantastic, but some are just plain yawners. But when I see how my writing friends craft an award-winning novel, I analyze it to see what makes it work!
    Posted by Lisa Jordan  on  09/23/09  at  10:35 AM
  2. Something you wrote on Twitter caught my eye, and I hopped over here. Excited to see what you and Rachelle will do together!
    Posted by Marla Taviano  on  09/24/09  at  08:10 AM
  3. I'm so glad I had a chance to share dinner with you and Mr. Katy--oops. Doug. It seems we never have enough "chat" time.

    Love the "Marginal" blog.
    Posted by christa  on  09/25/09  at  10:14 AM
  4. Lisa--I'm always shocked by how generous the published writers in our group are--willing to train young writers who may end up being their competition! What a wonderful group of genuine friends. Loved being with you!

    Marla--You are Rachelle's client, also, am I right? Yay! Rachelle and I are batting my WIP outline back and forth and I think we've landed on a good approach. Excited to move from the pre-writing to the actual writing. What are you working on?

    Christa--Ha! One person called my hubby "Doug McKenna." From then on, I intro'd myself as Katy McKenna and then said, "And this is my husband, Doug Raymond." I think Erma Bombeck's husband endured a lot of "Mr. Erma" over the years, the poor guy.... :) Yes, I would be happy if our chat time stretched out MUCH longer.....
    Posted by Katy  on  09/25/09  at  11:20 AM
  5. Katy, is there a way to "follow" your blog--I guess not, because it's not a Blogger site. I do see the RSS feed, so I'll add you to my Bloglines roll.
    Posted by Rosslyn  on  10/01/09  at  12:00 PM
  6. Thanks for such a great information!
    Posted by thesis  on  02/27/12  at  04:48 AM
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