Author Tamela Hancock Murray

More Convention Highlights!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Convention Time!

by Steve Laube

Last week was the 2011 International Christian Retailing Show (ICRS) in Atlanta, Georgia. Tamela Hancock Murray and I  had a busy time. Statistics released declared that professional attendance was up 9.7% to 1,748, primarily representing buyers. Total attendance was up 5.83% to 4,918. International attendance was up 16.17% to 431 attendees from 61 countries.

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Special Announcement

 

Congratulations to Kathi Macias, author of Red Ink (New Hope Publishers) for being given the 2011 Golden Scroll book award for Novel of the Year presented by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). This is a tremendous honor.
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We are also thrilled to announce that seven of our agency’s clients have been named as finalists for the Carol Award presented by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Congratulations to:

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Three Questions About Agents

In meeting with writers on the cusp of their careers or flush with new success, we find that three big questions come to the forefront. Today, Tamela shares her answers:

How do I find a literary agent?

1)      First and foremost, visit the Agency web sites to see which ones are actively seeking the type of work you write.

2)      Talk to your agented friends to learn about their agents. Referrals are a big part of our business.

3)      If time and finances allow, attend a conference or meeting where your preferred agent will be appearing and meet the agent.

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RWA 2011 – Bright Lights Big Stories

by Lynette Eason

Today we are pleased to have a guest post from Lynette Eason, author of the bestselling “Women of Justice” series published by Revell. She also won the 2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for romantic suspense. Last week Lynette was at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) convention and we asked her to share her experience.

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“Bright Lights Big Stories” was the theme of the RWA conference this year. My very FIRST RWA conference. What an experience!

The conference was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. My hotel room was on the twenty-first floor. My husband came with me and we had a corner king room. It was HUGE. And so comfy. I could have just stood at the window looking down at all of the excitement on Broadway the entire week, but I knew there were other fun things to experience.

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Build it Before They Come

If you want to be a published writer, realize that someone will look for you on the web. Agents will Google your name. I guarantee that editors and marketing folks will visit your web site to find out more about you.

Thus your web site needs to be both professional and effective. It is a bit like putting on your “Sunday Best” before going to an interview. That first impression is critical.

Allow me to share unscientific, subjective thoughts regarding a few elements I especially enjoy as an agent learning about writers through their web sites:

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Letting Go of Your Babies

One of the worst mistakes writers can make is being too possessive of their words. They fight for each adjective, adverb, and conversation tag.

My early writing suffered from too many words. I once wrote an artist didn’t “really” understand the difficulties of making a living in his profession. The editor kindly cut all instances of “really,” “just,” “so,” “very,” and other weak words experienced editors call “weasel” words.

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To Romance or Not to Romance

According to St. Teresa of Avila’s biography, the battle over romance novels has been going on at least since the 1500s:

Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa’s mother loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle — especially since she liked the romances too. Her father told her never to lie but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong.

Those of us who write, represent, and publish Christian romance novels can be made to feel the same way when our brothers and sisters in Christ object to our efforts to provide readers with God-honoring entertainment.  I have spoken with authors whose pastors have derided their writing, read negative blogs, and heard conference speakers criticize Christian romance novels.

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Happy to be Here!

HAPPY TO BE HERE!

I am thrilled to be a part of The Steve Laube Agency and to post my first blog entry. I have been asked lots of questions about my new venture. I’ll answer a few here.

Will you continue to represent Christian romance novels?

Yes, I will! Steve was familiar with my client list when I joined the agency and we both believe Christian fiction is a vital part of publishing.

I am passionate about Christian romance novels. The talent of my clients, the dedication of the editors, and the support of the publishers make this endeavor worthy and God-honoring.

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