ACFW Conference Story #2

At Kav’s request, today I bring you more details–ones I hope will interest both readers and writers–about last week’s American Christian Fiction Conference.

From the moment I arrived at the hotel, I encountered fellow writers at every turn. I hugged and caught up on life with the ones I knew and introduced myself to the ones I didn’t. Some years that included meeting my roommate for the first time. But this year I roomed with my critique partner.

Thursday night, the Love Inspired authors had a meet and greet in the president’s suite. Lucky for us, LI author Margaret Daley is also the ACFW president. Since the Harlequin family has recently expanded to include the newly procured Heartsong book club, we packed out the room.

Our editors shared some exciting news. The Love Inspired lines are among Harlequin’s top-selling lines. In fact, in August, LI even outsold Harlequin Presents.

We also learned that the Love Inspired Suspense line may expand to six books in the next year.  So RS writers get polishing.

Friday morning, I had appointments with writers whose manuscripts I’d critiqued. This was one of my favorite parts of the conference. I helped Suzanne B. brainstorm a new beginning–one more befitting a romantic suspense–to her already very strong manuscript. She told me later that both agents she met invited her to submit.

Another writer I met with had a really cool hook for her story aimed at Love Inspired Suspense, and I learned later that the editor invited her to submit the full.

I also attended one-on-one appointments with various publicists. These were super beneficial as I prepare to branch into trade-length books in 2013.

I brainstormed, with Rusty Shelton of Shelton Interactive, online book launch ideas for both Critical Condition and Deadly Devotion.

Jeane Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media gave me an overview of what to expect for Deadly Devotion’s publicity campaign.

Then I met with Suzy Q, a former retailer and super-fun social media coach. She gave me tons of great advice on book signings, meeting with retailers, and things I might try when I speak at events.

Thanks to her, everyone at the Chamber of Commerce meeting I’m speaking at next month may leave with a free copy of my new release…if the publisher can ship the copies in time.

For writers, Suzy Q’s top two pieces of advice for book signings are:

1) Always sign your books with a fine-tip Sharpie marker. Ink fades. And don’t worry, the fine-tip marker does not bleed through the page.

2) Don’t sit behind a table. Yup, you read that right. Stand in front. Or, for those like me who can’t stand long without your back locking up, use a stool in front.

I’ve got to say that both suggestions surprised me, but she’s convincing. Did I mention that she used to handle Karen Kingsbury’s book signings?

This woman knows what she’s talking about.
Friday night my new publisher, Revell, treated their authors to a fabulous dinner in a private room at the hotel. I so enjoyed meeting the Revell team. They are all super-friendly and sweet. We each left with a yummy gift bag that included everything from the all-important chocolate for those I-don’t-know-what-happens-next writing sessions to a new book they’ve published called Nowhere But Up: The story of Justin Bieber’s mom, who’s Canadian like me, eh.

Okay….since this post is already long enough, on Friday I’ll share the highlights of the classes I attended.

Your Turn: Readers, what do you wish authors would do/offer at book signings, speaking events or online? Writers, any tips of things you’ve done that readers loved? 

P.S. For those who can’t wait to read more, hop over to Barbara Vey of Publisher’s Weekly blog. She wrote a great summary of ACFW, including the main points of Michael Hyatt’s keynote address on why now is the best time to be a writer.


  • Love this Sandra. Bless you for doing it. You have no idea how thrilled I am to read details. I’m post-conference bliss!!!!!! And thanks for the link to Barbara Vey’s summary. I’ll be heading over there at lunch.

    I’m not sure if I can answer your question because I already love how available my favourite authors are online. Haven’t been to any signings yet. 🙁 Oh — but one thing I have noticed is that not all authors keep their books updated on their sites. I’ll find a new-to-me author and check out their website only to find the current books aren’t listed and I still have to go hunting titles down on amazon or to compile a list. I can see how it would be hard to keep on top of website things — most authors concentrate on more ‘social’ media like blogs — but avid readers want a one stop place to get a list of titles so they can shop! There, I actually did think of something after all. 🙂 You’ve made me giddy with delight, Sandra!

    • You’re welcome, Kav. And your tip about keeping websites updated is a good reminder. I’m in the process of having my website redesigned so that my blog will also be a part of it. Being able to easily update it myself (not just the blog) is one of the key features I want to be sure to have.

  • I would most certainly like to go to a book signing – the only one I have ever been to was a knitting book, and the authors were sitting down knitting most of the time…lol. I do like the ‘free’ something – a bookmark or a bookplate. A tiny memento of the particular book being marketed would be lovely – something that would make you think of the book each time you see the item.
    Very excited to hear all the good things you did and heard and now can put into practice 🙂

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.