Author Tamela Hancock Murray

Conquering Conference Jitters


Next week the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference is upon us. While this particular conference is one of the largest in our industry (over 700 will be there in St. Louis), writers can become nervous before going to even the most intimate conference. We all want to make a good impression and show other industry professionals our best. You have already prayed and handed the conference over to the Lord, so here are a few more tips based on questions I’ve been asked over the years:

1.) What do I wear? 

Each conference has its own personality and you’ll need to adjust accordingly. For instance, hiking across a college campus during a spring rain shower requires different clothing than staying indoors at a five-star hotel. Visit the conference web site to glean as much information as you can about what you might expect concerning accommodations and weather. For any conference, the best rule is to select clothing that makes you feel great. Comfortable, flattering clothes that show polish are easily available at different price points. No agent or editor I know encourages writers to spend a fortune on conference clothing. Look in your closet. Chances are excellent that you already own clothes that are right for you to wear. If you’re still unsure, it’s hard for women to err with a simple dress or a blouse or sweater with dark slacks or a skirt. Men can’t go wrong with a presentable shirt and trousers. Both men and women can add a blazer according to personal style.

2.) How do I use my one-sheets?

Conference veterans know about one-sheets, through which authors present their stories, photo, bio, and contact information on one page. Editors and agents often take these home with them, but few will accept chapters and full proposals. Imagine toting fifty full proposals back with you on a plane! However, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pages of your manuscript, and even the full proposal, printed for the agent or editor to peruse during the appointment. Having a writing sample available might help the conversation.

3.) What contact information should I take with me?

If you already have an agent put your agent’s contact information on the one-sheets and the sample chapters you use for editors. This is because an editor usually prefers to contact the agent about a manuscript.And talk to your agent before you go to make sure you are both on the same page with what you are pitching to editors, and even deciding which editors you should see.

Make sure you bring a nice stack of business cards…with your picture on it. That will help when meeting other authors and editors in hallways and at meals. This is a good way to help folks remember you. Some authors are even putting their Twitter handle on their business card. And a few published authors will put the cover of their book on the back side of the business card which can be great advertising! Steve Laube says that each night he gathers whatever one sheets and business cards he collected, and along with that day’s schedule he makes notes in his Moleskine notebook so that he can reconstruct the items that need followup and the people he met. This could be one way for you to absorb all that you heard each day.

4.) What should I strive to achieve during my appointments?

Get to know an industry professional. The one-sheet is not your do-or-die document. A one-sheet will give you talking points and something to present to the editor, but really, you are demonstrating a little bit about who you are. You want to convey your business style and show the editor or agent you are easy to work with, professional, and that you are willing to do as the Lord leads to be a successful published author. I highly recommend you read Steve Laube’s advice on “That Conference Appointment” before you go.

I wish you great conference success, fellowship, and fun!






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A Matter of Perspective

During a recent visit to my local bank, I produced a document bearing the Virginia State seal. The banker commented on how terrible the seal is for men.

What an odd thing to say!

Mrs. Judith Gue taught third grade at the small private school I attended in a bucolic part of Virginia. Mrs. Gue was a plump woman who favored silk dresses, kept a paddle on her desk as an unspoken and ever-present threat, smoked cigarettes like a fiend and had also taught my mother. She relished the first story in the Virginia history book, about how Sir Walter Raleigh covered a mud puddle with his cloak so his queen’s feet would not be sullied. Pride filled her voice when she shows us the seal, speaking of “Victory over Tyrants” for our great state. The woman depicted is the Roman Goddess Virtus, the goddess of virtue, and the defeated man is a tyrant. I have my doubts that the men responsible for the seal, designed in 1776, were raging feminists.

I said to the banker, “You’re not a native, are you?”

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Bon Voyage — or A New Adventure?

On Monday, Barbour Publishing informed the industry that they will be discontinuing their Heartsong Presents imprint. After 18 years and 1,000 titles, it will end its run in December 2011. Publishing has always been fluid. Steve Laube says that it is important to stay flexible because “A publisher can dramatically change directions after a meeting on Tuesday.”

I never thought Heartsong Presents, a line for which I proudly wrote, would collapse. Ever. But their line isn’t the first. Remember, for instance, Palisades? Or Alabaster? Both of those romance imprints were published by Multnomah but abruptly disappeared. Or the Three Rivers imprint or the Jan Dennis imprint at Thomas Nelson (both of which ended on the same day in the 80s). Many times a writer has been waylaid as these situations changed for them, sometimes in mid-contract.

If you are an author whose line has been discontinued, you must summon the courage to take the next step. This is where your agent can be invaluable. 

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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.

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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.


“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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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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