If you follow me on social media, you know that next month I’m teaching a screenwriting session at the Writing for Your Life conference at Belmont University. I can’t wait! They’ve got a great lineup of speakers from the writing and publishing worlds, and promises to be a wonderful learning environment. I’m excited to have as my guest today, Brian Allain to tell us more about the conference.
First, introduce yourself and your role with Writing for Your Life.
I wear two hats: one is Founding Director of the Frederick Buechner Center, and the other is my own business that I launched in 2016 called Writing for Your Life.
All of this is a second career for me – I started out as an engineer at Bell Labs! I went on to become an entrepreneur and a few years ago Frederick Buechner’s family hired me to establish and lead the Frederick Buechner Center, with the aim of increasing awareness of his work. In addition to launching a website and robust social media presence, we have created a seminary partnership program, and Zondervan just came out with two new Buechner books this past fall.
In 2016 I launched my own business called Writing for Your Life , with the goal of assisting additional spiritual writers. Writing for Your Life includes in-person spiritual writers’ conferences, online webinars, marketing services, and other resources for spiritual writers. I have produced spiritual writers’ conferences at Princeton Seminary, Western Theological Seminary / Hope College (Holland, Michigan), and Belmont University (Nashville), and have more planned for 2018.
Tell us a bit about Writing for Your Life and the resources that you offer.
The goal of Writing for Your Life is to be the best resource center for spiritual writers. So we strive to offer as many services and resources as the market indicates it needs and we think we can deliver. Honestly it has been a great deal of fun! I’ve found that many spiritual writers have little background and little interest in the business and marketing side of being an author, so I compliment them well.
Some of our services are educational in nature – our in-person conferences and online webinars focus on various aspects of “how to write” “how to get published” or “how to market”. Other services are author-specific marketing services such as social media, website development, and platform development. We also resell additional types of services provided by my partners – things such as book editing, book proposal review, book consulting, and book cover design.
Tell us about the upcoming spiritual writers conference taking place next month.
We are very excited about returning to Nashville for another spiritual writers’ conference. The 2017 conference received an average rating of 4.71 out of 5, so that is going to be hard to beat, but we have a top-notch group of speakers led by Brian McLaren, Carol Howard Merritt, and Andrew Peterson. There will be keynote sessions, breakout seminars, 1-on-1 meetings with speakers, an open mic program, and more. Our speakers include both authors and people from the publishing industry, such as one of the Publishers at HarperCollins. In addition to the main conference we will also provide a day-long “Dig Deeper” Retreat led by book development guru Ami McConnell.
Who can benefit from the conference?
Really anyone who is interested in doing their own spiritual writing. Many of our past attendees have not yet published a book – they are there to be inspired and learn. But also we’ve had many published authors, the majority of whom have published a book or two, but some who have published many. At every conference we have many pastors, and we offer Continuing Education Units for pastors.
Past attendees have told us that our conferences stand above other writing workshops because of (1) superior speakers and (2) a more collegial, non-competitive environment. They’re fun!
What is your goal for the conference?
My goal for any of my conferences is to make each one the best conference you’ve ever attended!
What advice would you offer to writers just starting out?
Subscribe to the weekly Writing for Your Life emails. Each one has advice from authors and people from the publishing industry, in either text or video. And there is always something new each week. Then definitely attend a conference or two and meet directly with the speakers there. Get to know them and get their advice.
What advice would you offer to someone with a book manuscript they’d like to get published?