I just returned home from a 16-day trip back to Oklahoma. That’s a long time to be away from home, but it was a productive trip, nonetheless. On April 29 and 30 I attended the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc. Annual Conference in Oklahoma City. I’ve never attended the OWFI conference before, since I’ve lived in Arizona now for twenty years, but I thought it behooved me to join OWFI as a Member at Large a couple of years ago, after I began writing this series of mysteries set in Oklahoma. I entered TOB in their annual writing contest last year, and it won first place in their unpublished mystery novel catagory, which gave me the confidence to submit it for publication to Poisoned Pen Press. Since that organization performed such a service for me, I really wanted to attend their annual get-together this year.
The conference took place at the Embassy Suites on Meridian in OKC, which was a very nice venue. I had contacted the organizers several weeks before the conference and asked if I could send them promotional postcards of The Old Buzzard Had It Coming to put into the welcome bags for the attendees, and they graciously agreed to do so. Robert and Nan at Poisoned Pen Press got on the ball and had 2500 postcards produced for me to send what I needed to OWFI in plenty of time. I was told that about 400 people were expected to attend the conference, so I sent 450 postcards. I discovered while I was there that 480 people actually came, so I spent a lot of time talking to as many folks as I could, trying to find those 30 overlooked souls and correct their postcardlessness.
The postcards, by the way, have a reproduction of the book cover on one side, and the contact information for the press, the publication information for TOB, my web address, and the two lovely quotes from Carolyn Hart and Tony Hillerman on the other side. Check out the “Books” page on this site for the text of the quotes.
The 2005 OWFI meeting is the first writers’ conference I’ve attended since I’ve known that I have a book of my own coming out (July 5, don’t forget), so my focus was much changed. I attended more meetings dealing with publicizing one’s book and fewer on how to get published. And having said that, the first meeting I attended at the conference was called “Getting Published”, conducted by Sharene Martin, founder of the Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency. I also attended workshops on “Understanding How Publicity Sells Books”, “Structuring the Novel”, “Things I Wish a Pro Had Told Me”,(particularly useful for a newbie writer), “Mystery Writing”, “The Author Editor Relationship”. They offered a nice cross section of subjects, covering the spectrum from how to write, through what to expect once you get published. There were also networking sessions every day, opportunities to meet with editors and agents, and a couple of banquets, which were another big opportunity to schmooze.
Like a lot of people who sit around and think too much, I’m something of a hermit and not much of a joiner. However, I’ve attended many a professional conference in my time, first as a teacher, then a librarian, and now as an author, and I always find them helpful. In fact, the contacts one makes are priceless.