ICRS Report 2012

 This was my second ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) as an agent with The Steve Laube Agency. Once again, the show proved to be a marathon of information, entertainment, new connections, and strengthened friendships.

On a personal note, this year marked my younger daughter’s eighteenth birthday so our family devoted Sunday to her celebration. Armed with a new camera, she took many photographs at the Harry P. Leu gardens in Orlando.  These gardens are gorgeous!

The bulk of the show is condensed into Monday and Tuesday since the floor closes in mid-afternoon on Wednesday. Our schedule was packed on both days, and once again I enjoyed attending meetings with Steve Laube. To combat hot and humid weather, our hosts plied us with soda, tea, and water. I told Steve that Christians have added new meaning to the term “social drinking!”

The people we spoke with agreed that the floor seemed more sparse than usual, and some publishers occupied smaller booths than in the past. However, most of the best and brightest publishers were represented, often by their executives and owners. Amid hugs and laughter, Steve and I gleaned information we will use as we strategize how to present properties that best fit their current needs and interests. We were glad to have our first face-to-face time with Daisy Hutton, the recently-appointed Vice President and Publisher of Fiction at Thomas Nelson Publishers. She had already signed one of my clients before the show, so it was great to meet her in person. She will be the ideal successor to Allen Arnold’s excellent work.

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In Search of Ideas

Authors, I’m guessing you’ve heard this question over and over: “Where do you get your ideas?” I know I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Now, if you’re like most writers I know, ideas for possible stories come fast and furious—most of the time. But what to do when you feel as though the idea well has run dusty and dry?

Well! Let me share a few standards that I, and other authors I know, rely on:

The Media

That old saying that the truth is stranger than fiction has stood the test of time for one reason: It’s true! I’ve discovered that the news, whether on TV or in a paper or online, is a veritable mine of ideas just waiting to be…well, mined.

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News You Can Use – July 24, 2012

You Might Get Sued for Using that Photo! – Bloggers beware. That photo you snagged for your blog may not be yours to use. This article is a cautionary tale. (Beware, the author writes romance novels for the general market and her book covers are prominently displayed.) Our blog uses crestock.com and istockphoto.com for nearly all our photos. The licenses cost between $1 and $4 for each photo…

7 Ways to Sell Your Books on Pintrest – Beth Hayden offers some creativity!

Life Below the “Fold” – Common wisdom in home page design is to have everything important fit on the screen so readers don’t have to scroll. This article suggests otherwise. Agree or Disagree? (I think too much text is a design killer on the web. That opinion coming from a fellow who is known for writing epic length blog posts.)

Understanding the Harlequin Lawsuit – If you don’t think this lawsuit applies to you; think again. A similar suit change music contracts.

Reviewing Your Reviews – This is a tough thing to grasp for every author. Reviewers can be harsh. And even if the review is positive there is likely a negative comment or two. Nancy Mehl provides some excellent advice with this article.

Grilled Cheesus – Yes, this is real. In an October 2010 episode of the TV Show “Glee” had a poke at strange Christian products exclaiming “”It’s a Grilled Cheesus!” Then in 2011 some folks, who had been working on the idea for a couple years, raised money through KickStarter.com and actually created it. (Click here to see that they raised over $25,000) The product was found for sale on the convention floor of the ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) last week.

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ICRS 2012 – Observations

By Steve Laube

This year’s ICRS (International Christian Retailing Show) was a great time of celebration and doing a lot of business.

First I have to celebrate with Four award winning clients!

AWSA (Advance Writers & Speakers Association) Fiction Book of the Year

Susan May Warren – Heiress (Summerside)

The Christy Awards

Ronie Kendig – Wolfsbane (Barbour) – best Contemporary Romance

Ginny Yttrup – Words (B&H Publishing Group) – best First Novel

Lisa Bergren – Waterfall (David C. Cook) – best Young Adult

I am so honored to represent such wonderful writers! It is especially meaningful having traveled the journey of each book with each author. Ask the authors for the story behind their story!

As for business, we had a lot of great meetings with publishers, editors, and authors. Tamela Hancock Murray and I had over 20 scheduled appointments on Monday and Tuesday. It meant flitting from place to place in record time, especially since some appointments were on the convention floor and others were at one of the main convention hotels. (See Tamela’s post later this week for her perspective on the event.)

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Ebook-Originals, the Next Step in Traditional Publishing Strategy

Guest Post by Sue Brower

Our guest today is Sue Brower. She is Executive Editor at Zondervan in charge of fiction and thinks she has the best job in the world…she gets paid to read all day!  Zondervan is currently looking for completed manuscripts to fill the Zondervan First fiction eBook platform.  The ideal stories will primarily have romance-driven plots and vivid, realistic characters.  We are also looking for proposals in the Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, and Romance categories for our print program.  Sue lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Todd, dogs Pepper and Ollie, and cat, Shep.

__________

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much the book market has changed in just a few short years.  Some bad, but mostly good because of all the new opportunities for innovation and creativity in publishing. Traditional publishing (print books sold through retail stores) is holding its own, but now there are so many more vehicles for authors to get published: print, epub-only, self-pub, etc.

A diehard fiction fan, I swore I would never give up my printed books and I didn’t believe that there would come a day when I wouldn’t be able to spend hours in a bookstore just browsing.  I love the way books smell; I love the way they feel.  Then the company I work for, Zondervan, gave me an IPad so that I could get comfortable with the format and so I could experience books electronically.  For a while everything I read was on my IPad; current books, as well as manuscripts I was considering for publication.  I thought it was so cool…for at first.  Then, a book was being released by my favorite author and I just had to have it in hardcover.  It wasn’t enough to have it loaded in perpetuity on my IPad, I wanted to be able to hold the story in my hands.  I enjoyed it more, become involved in the fantasy just as the writer intended.

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Spell Checking

Shortly after I became a book editor, I was working on a nonfiction manuscript that focused on Mormonism. When I finished editing, I ran the spell check. Imagine my reaction when the dear spell check wanted to replace every Mormon with moron and Mormonism with Moronism!

Since those long ago days, spell check has invaded countless emails, files, and text messages. As much as we appreciate it catching our errors, we curse it for “fixing” words that didn’t need fixing. So when I came across recently, I knew I wanted to share it with you.

So here, for your reading pleasure:

ODE TO MY SPELL CHECKER

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It cam with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

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News You Can Use – July 17, 2012

The Top 10 Things That Have to be Edited in a Non-fiction Manuscript – Written to the academic market but I think it has universal applications. Check your manuscript today for these ten things.

What is the Future of Publishing? – a well done article for “Forbes” magazine.

Behind the Scenes of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature – Michael Cunningham reveals why a winner was not chosen this year. Part Two of this article can be found here.

Titles are Everything! – a link to an 11 part series on how to read great headlines. Study it to learn how to title your book or your article or even your blog post.

Amazon Moving to Same-Day Service? – Since they lost the sales tax battle Amazon can freely open shipping locations in every Metro area and offer same day delivery. Imagine placing an order for that DVD, book, dress, or lawnmower and it is delivered within hours. And at a price lower than your local retailer. Wow.

In light of the previous entry I provide a picture with the possible caption: “What Amazon.com looks like to a local retailer.” (or to a Publisher for that matter!)

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To Comma or Not to Comma?

by Steve Laube

I came across this entry in the Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss. The book is a classic on punctuation (although based on British English usage it is still a great book). Read the story below and then answer the questions in the comment section.

On his deathbed in April 1991, Graham Green corrected and signed a typed document which restricts access to his papers at Georgetown University. Or does it? The document, before correction, stated: “I, Graham Greene, grant permission to Norman Sherry, my authorised biographer, excluding any other to quote from my copyright material published or unpublished.” Being a chap who had corrected proofs all his life, Greene automatically aded a comma after “excluding any other” and died the next day without explaining what he meant by it. A great ambiguity was thereby created. Are all other researchers excluded from quoting the material? Or only other biographers?

Which do you think he meant?

What other ambiguities with commas have you seen or written with your own hand?

Why should it matter? It is just punctuation.

Is punctuation important in book contracts?

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