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.