Another Productive ICRS!

Tamela Hancock Murray

People in a modern architectural interior. Tint blue

Two weeks ago I enjoyed the privilege of attending ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) as part of The Steve Laube Agency, marking my third ICRS with Steve.

As usual, our schedule was packed but seeing our colleagues is why we attend, so a full agenda is welcome. Year after year, reports say ICRS is getting smaller, and indeed we did miss seeing some of our editor friends. However, we were able to maintain great connections with over 35 interesting and productive meetings. Authors are looking for good news and I can say there is plenty. Editors are still actively acquiring all types of fiction and nonfiction. Standards are high, but then again, they always have been. Talented writers who are willing to work hard will find opportunities in today’s market.

I can’t call feasting at several dinners and banquets “hardship” duty. I had a great time at the AWSA awards lunch, the Speak Up! breakfast, and the Baker Publishing Group dinner, and was especially thrilled to be at Susie May Warren’s table on Monday night when she won her Christy Award!

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) announces their Carol Award finalists at ICRS. Our agency is well represented with seven authors as finalists in eight categories. I’m beyond proud to be the agent for three of them!

You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House, Editors: Karen Watson/Sarah Mason)

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer (Bethany House, Editor: Charlene Patterson)

Impressed by Love by Lisa Karon Richardson (Barbour Publishing, Editor: Rebecca Germany)

Romantic Suspense
Saving Hope by Margaret Daley (Abingdon Press, Editor: Ramona Richards)
When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason (Revell, Editor: Andrea Doering)

Judge by R. J. Larson (Bethany House, Editors: David Long/Sarah Long)
Daystar by Kathy Tyers (Marcher Lord Press: Editor: Jeff Gerke)

Young Adult
Prophet by R.J. Larson (Bethany House, Editors: David Long/Sarah Long)

Here is the complete list of Carol finalists.  Congratulations to each and every author, publisher, and editor! Winners will be announced at the ACFW conference in September.

So why do we continue to go despite the reported shrinking of the size of ICRS? Because it is an important piece of the puzzle for us — the building and maintaining of relationships. I enjoyed my time with the editors, and was able to make meaningful connections with many authors as well. Several of our authors were invited to sign their books and some were interviewed by the media.

As an agent, I have the opportunity to talk to a number of authors, from dewey-eyed beginners to wizened veterans. Some still think that agents only are around to sell their books and ask for a few contract goodies. But anyone who could have shadowed Steve and me at ICRS would have seen we do so much more. Editors and executives approached him time and time again for perspective beyond the proposals or authors we discussed. I listened as he shared with authority views on topics ranging from the economics of successful publishing to the nuances of three-point versus five-point Calvinism. I enjoyed sharing my views on the romance fiction market. Our goal was to “dig a little” (his words) to find out what was under the surface and to solidify our already warm industry relationships.

Authors who engage a great agent are working with a professional who cultivates real relationships with publishers and exchanges ideas and information. Because we work with different authors, we are able to gather the latest information on the real worth of any given project, what a house can and cannot do for any particular author, and editors’ personal tastes and preferences.

Like Steve, I can’t wait to go again next year!

12 Responses to Another Productive ICRS!

  1. Jeanne Takenaka July 11, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Tamela, it sounds like a wonderful experience! I hope you’re feeling better. Your blog is such a reminder of how interconnected the publishing industry is. I love hearing yours and Steve’s perspective on this event. 🙂

  2. Tamela Hancock Murray July 11, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Jeanne, thanks for asking. The intense heat and rain we experienced triggered headaches for me but I am fine now. But most of the time, weather doesn’t bother me in the least. I was still able to have an enjoyable ICRS. 🙂

    CBA definitely is an example of what a small world this really is.

    Thank you for being a faithful reader of our blog!

  3. Robin Patchen July 11, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Thanks for the encouraging post, Tamela. I clicked over to the ACFW website to read the Carol finalists and was surprised to find Women’s Fiction is no longer a category. I know it was last year, because I read the three finalists’ books. (All excellent, by the way.) I wonder–are the women’s fiction titles in the Contemporary Fiction category?

    • Robin Miller July 11, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Hi, Robin…I can answer this one! Authors were able to select what category they wanted their book entered in the Carols. Most authors who would’ve previously entered in the Women’s Fiction now can enter the Contemporary Fiction, and many did. Some entered in other categories, where they felt their title better fit.

      I join in offering my congratulations to all the Carol Award finalists.

  4. Robin Patchen July 11, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Interesting. So I guess not enough wanted to be considered WF, because the category doesn’t exist. Not that I mind. I never liked the moniker anyway. Sort of turns off half the reading audience.

  5. Andrea Cox July 11, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Tamela! I’m so glad you were able to push past the bug to still have fun at ICRS. Even more so, I’m thrilled that you’re feeling better now. Thanks for being one of those agents who still believes in ICRS. It’s sad to me to think these things might not last forever because times change. Thanks for being an agent that will ensure it lasts as long as possible!


    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 11, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Andrea, thank you for the encouragement!

      • Andrea Cox July 12, 2013 at 9:28 am #

        You’re welcome, Tamela!

  6. Dakota Rae Smits July 13, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Congrats to the Carol finalists!
    Thanks for an inside scoop of the ICRS. I laughed out loud at the three-point versus five-point Calvinism comment. Sounds like an entertaining time! Love it. 🙂

  7. Joshua Shaw July 14, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Tamela, it is great to hear that the ICRS is still rockin’. As a young unpublished author, I often hear rumors and rumors of rumors that the Christian publishing and sales market is diminishing. However, I find it encouraging to know that agents are always looking for new or seasoned talent, and editors are hungry for good books and ideas.

    Thanks, Tamela!

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