by Tamela Hancock Murray
As you know from reading our own Steve Laube’s excellent insights on this blog about ICRS, the days were busy, exciting, and invigorating. The convention confirmed our optimism about Christian publishing’s bright future.
I’ve been to the convention a number of times and have always been blessed. This year, it took place in Atlanta, a lovely city that offers hot, sunny, humid weather. My biggest challenge was trying to keep my hair presentable.
A writer following ICRS news would think this event has shrunk to nothing, but in fact, the Convention Center overflowed with exhibitors. All total, 21 writers from The Steve Laube Agency were in attendance. One of the week’s highlights for me was enjoying breakfast with several of my writers and I was able to visit with another author as well. Debby Mayne and Martha Rogers were among the many holding book signings. Organizations such as the American Christian Fiction Writers hosted booths. This is not a tiny event by any means. I didn’t track how many miles I walked, but I do know I would have welcomed a foot massage at the end of each 16-hour day!
Many writers find what agents do at this convention to be mysterious. Questions include whether they should send me one-sheets, will I be able to pitch their work, and will I be able to find out if they will be receiving a contract soon. However, ICRS is not a writers’ conference where editors hear pitches from authors and agents. Instead, during many of the meetings, we spent the majority of our short time with editors discussing “housekeeping” issues with clients and simply listening to what they had to say about the latest news regarding their houses. What we will now do is use that information to serve our writers.
We enjoyed amazing food and fellowship at a number of events. I like to be at these dinners to support all authors and Christian publishers for their fine work. I am beyond proud of all of my authors, but the highlight of ICRS for me this year was to be present when Kathi Macias received her AWSA award for Novel of the Year. If you haven’t read Red Ink yet, this book is well worth your time. At another event, I was seated at a table with the grandson of Grace Livingston Hill. Both of my grandmothers, especially my maternal grandmother (we called each other “Precious”), would have been astounded by that fact.
This was the first year I attended ICRS as an agent with The Steve Laube Agency. Steve and I met with the a number of high-ranking editors and executives from major publishing companies (many of whom have known him for over 20 years). Steve is already a highly respected presence in the industry. And in the genre of non-fiction he represents some significant authors, so by listening, I learned about the type of non-fiction projects that garner editors’ attention. Though I expect to remain focused on fiction, now I feel invigorated about pursuing select non-fiction projects as well. We also enjoyed our meetings with fiction editors, many of whom are already my friends. ICRS confirmed what I already knew — that Steve and I share the same business philosophy and we are a great fit. Already we feel we have been working together for years.
Steve is correct in that for many reasons, ICRS is the big event of the year for Christian publishing. I hope the Lord’s plan is for me to attend as part of The Steve Laube Agency team for many years to come.