I drove to Cincinnati recently for a conference for indie authors. IndieLab was put on the same folks who produce the annual Writer’s Digest Conference that I attend in New York every year. This one was different, in many ways.
First, obviously, it was for indie authors. At other writing conferences, anyone who self-publishes is usually looked down on or ignored. The assumption is that you’re only doing ‘that’ (self-publishing) because you’re not good enough for a traditional deal or you’re hoping to attract a ‘real’ publisher. There’s a hierarchy, both implied and spoken.
So the atmosphere was very different at IndieLab. It was a much smaller conference than the mammoth WDC weekend. The size was a terrific advantage: no long lines, no frustration that there was no time to connect with a speaker. Breaks were relaxed, allowing everyone the chance to get to know a lot of people. (A special shout-out to the IndieLab staff who cheerfully accommodated my food allergies.)
As usual, I arrived at the conference with a list of goals: questions, really, that I needed answers to as I reboot my writing business. By lunch on the first day, I’d checked off almost every item. That was a surprise, though it shouldn’t have been. The presenters and vendors were open and welcoming and eager to meet with attendees. That last question was addressed after lunch, but in a way I didn’t expect.
As I reboot my career, I’ve been developing a pretty specific blueprint. I didn’t expect that workshop to send me off in a different direction. That’s not quite true: it was a topic I was interested in exploring, and when the speaker first started I was still thinking of it in a narrow way to fit my blueprint. Gradually, I heard the information in a completely new way. It was a way that would change how I create one part of my business so that the expenses (time and money) would be greatly reduced while generating income. It was tweaking an idea I already had, but on a very limited scale. It took that speaker to convince me to think bigger.
You’ve probably spent a lot of money to go to that conference, so you want to get your money’s worth. You want to get your questions answered and you want to be inspired. All of that happened. And I wound up surprising myself.
Maybe you, too, are afraid to think too big, afraid to consider something way out of your comfort zone. That’s where conferences come in handy. They put you in a room full of people like you who want to get better at what they do. And they ask you to consider being better than you ever dreamed of being.
It’s too soon to share what it was that had such a dramatic effect on me. I have a steep learning curve if I’m going to add that to my writing business. But I know now it’s not only doable, it’s important. I may not make a fortune on it; in fact, I may not make a dime. But I’ll know that I pushed myself farther than before, made myself a better writer who can accomplish even more.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?