There has been a ton of buzz in the media about the just-completed American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. It was big (more than 600 writers, about 700 people attending), it was fun (Susan May Warren teaching a line dance to 100 people at her pizza party stands out), and it has become influential (lots of media there -- I had interviews with a national magazine and a large newspaper). A few things that stood out for me:
-As noted yesterday, Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary won "Agent of the Year." Congrats, SB! Well deserved.
-Jenny B Jones, an author we represent, won two "Book of the Year" Awards, in both the "Contemporary Romance" (for her novel Just Between You and Me) and the "Young Adult" categories (for I'm So Sure).
-Other authors we represent who were finalists in various categories included Vickie McDonough (a two-time finalist in the "Historical" category, plus a finalist in the "Short Contemporary" category), Joyce Magnin (in the "Long Contemporary" category for her fabulous book The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow), Susan Meissner (one of the great novelists in CBA today, for White Picket Fences), Mindy Starns Clark (for Under the Cajun Moon), Darlene Franklin (for A String of Murders), Janice Thompson (also a two-time finalist, for Pushing Up Daisies as well as Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas), Rachel Hauck's Sweet By and By in the "Women's Fiction" category, Lynette Sowell (for All That Glitters), and Jill Williamson (for By Darkness Hid - which we didn't represent at the time, but Jill is now represented by Amanda Luedeke). So a great night for our authors.
-By the way, the Book of the Year Award is now The Carol Award, named for longtime Bethany House fiction director Carol Johnson, who had significant influence on the direction and growth of Christian fiction over the past 25 years. In a very touching moment, Carol was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award by Jeanette Oke -- one of the authors who helped propel Christian fiction into the spotlight. Ms Oke has had serious health issues in recent years, and it was good to see her up and looking well.
-Curtis Riskey, the new Executive Director of CBA, was kind enough to come into my marketing workshop and chat for a while about the partnership authors have with retailers. He was encouraging and on point, and everyone came away feeling better about the future of CBA retailers.
-People have asked me for highlights, but it's tough for me to say because I don't have time to attend a lot of the sessions -- my schedule is filled with author and editor meetings. I heard a lot of folks say they enjoyed the general session speaker, novelist Tim Downs. I had a great time team-teaching the fiction marketing seminar with my good buddy Jim Rubart (who also played guitar in the band). There was apparently a sale on asparagus in the midwest, so we got to have fresh asparagus spears every meal (including, um, breakfast). The hotel and accommodations were great. Lots of friends to visit with late at night. And the banquet, while way too long at three-and-a-half hours, was interesting and fun. (I was relieved when Amanda announced she had decided against borrowing Lady Gaga's meat dress for the banquet.)
-If you're interested, there is a great article in Publishers Weekly on the ACFW conference here:
-And, as long as we're talking fiction, let me share a fascinating fact coming on the heels of the biggest ACFW conference ever: according to a new study from the ECPA, Christian readers bought almost as many novels as they did Bibles last year. Here’s a link to the story:
-Three other quick things on today's menu...
First, the Southwest Christian Writers Studio is coming up October 18-22 in New Mexico. The lineup of talent and topics sounds really good, so if all this talk of the ACFW conference has you motivated, you may want to look into this one. You can check it out here: http://altongansky.typepad.com/swcws/
Second, I'm teaching a one-day workshop in Richmond, VA, on Saturday, Nov 6. It's called "The Perfect Book Proposal," and is sponsored by the local ACFW group and the Virginia RWA. You can get more details from Tiffany Colter at email@example.com.
Third, marketing guru Rob Eager sent me details about his upcoming one-day workshop, also on Saturday, November 6th, in Atlanta. It's called “How to Sell Books Like WildFire,” and provides advanced-level book marketing instruction that’s applicable to authors at all levels. Space is limited to the first 10 authors who register. For a small investment, you will learn how to:
· Build a distinctive brand that sets their books apart from the crowd.
· Learn to boost book sales by driving readers to bookstores and websites.
· Get more exposure via media interviews and speaking engagements.
· Connect with influential leaders who can spread word of mouth.
· Learn what really works with social media to promote a book.
· Develop a personalized marketing plan that focuses on the author’s strengths.
· Make new friendships with fellow authors who provide ongoing support and share best practices.
For registration and information, please visit: http://www.startawildfire.com/authorworkshop.html
As I said, there's a lot going on. Now get back to your writing!