ACFW 2011 Report

by Steve Laube

This past weekend nearly 700 novelists, editors, agents, and industry professionals gathers in St. Louis for the 10th annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference.

It is always invigorating to be with so many highly creative people and to be a part of the discovery and development of tomorrow’s bestselling authors.

I had over 30 one-on-one appointments and editor meetings, taught three classes, and had dozens of “hallway” meetings of all kinds. Our agency had 47 clients in attendance too. This was the first time Karen Ball, Tamela Hancock Murray, and I were together at the same event since they joined the agency. What a blast! It is so great to have them as a part of our agency.

Saturday night was the Awards Banquet Gala and our agency had five clients who were award winners.
Genesis Awards (for unpublished authors):
Historical Fiction: Johnnie Alexander Donley
Historical Romance: Sarah Ladd

Carol Awards:
Novella: Carrie Turansky
Mystery: Elizabeth Goddard
Long Historical: Susan May Warren

Congratulations to all!

In my opinion, if you are a novelist writing for the Christian market, you owe it to yourself to consider attending next year’s event which will be held in Dallas. Check the ACFW (www.acfw.com) for more information.

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One-Sheets versus Queries


A recent post inspired an excellent question. “Is a one-sheet the same as a query?”

Yes and no. There is some overlap, but the differences are significant.

A one-sheet gives writers a document for talking points about a project at a conference. The one-sheet can help authors be sure they convey the information they want to the editor or agent without forgetting anything critical. In turn, the one-sheet gives the editor or agent a memo of sorts to recall your pitch after the conference. This is one reason why an author photo is essential. Otherwise, the one-sheet includes information such as the book theme and brief plot summary, contact information, and sometimes another visual to make the page pop. One-sheets are often colorful and intended to grab attention. However, they are only a tool. The author’s professionalism and talent are key.

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What Makes a Christian Book “Christian”? (Part One)


I had this discussion over a year ago on my blog, but thought it would be a good discussion for all of you, too. In some ways, publishing is in a state of unbelievable flux. In others, it’s utterly grounded and unshakeable. Good and bad on both sides.

But here’s what I find fascinating–and a bit worrisome. There’s a seemingless endless debate on what makes a Christian book Christian? Is it the context of the book or the faith of the author? What’s in the book or what isn’t? The tone or the specifics? Believe me, when I find myself in this debate, the answers come fast and furious and are as varied as can be. But before I share any thoughts or conclusions, I want to know what you think.

So, as a reader or a writer, what are you looking for in a book from a “Christian” publishing house? Or from a Christian writer.
What do you expect to find.
What do you expect NOT to find?
What makes a book “Christian”?

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News You Can Use – Sept. 20, 2011

Are There Different Genres of Fantasy? – You bet there are. If want to write in that category become familiar with the difference.

The Positive Side of a Writer’s Frustration – A good way to make gold out of ashes.

10 Things a Writer Can Learn From Rocky Balboa –Besides saying “Yo Adrian” whenever someone mentions Rocky.

The Next Four Industries that will be Transformed by the Internet – Agree or Disagree?

Take a look at this amazing infographic regarding Textbooks:

Thank you to Jenica Rhee for creating it. (Twitter: jenicarhee)

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Save Your Inbox!

Like you, I have a love-hate relationship with email.
I love it because it allows for quick and easy communication.
I hate it because the flood in the inbox can be overwhelming.

(I also get irritated with that hyphen! email or e-mail?)

A “solution” may be at hand! Some pretty smart folks have created “The Email Charter.” Please do yourself a favor, click this link to The Email Charter, read it, and see if some of its suggestion can make a difference.

Then come back here write a comment telling us what you think

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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.

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More About Book Sales


My post on Monday about average book sales raised a few questions and got me to thinking a little further.

I wondered what the average book sales were for all the titles our agency has represented. Our authors have sold millions of books but I had never thought to “do the math.”

I give this number with the following caveat. Many of the books have not been out for a year and thus we only have numbers for the first few months of sales. And some titles have a more academic orientation which generally means the unit sales are not as good. Also included are titles that were commercial disasters (selling less than 1,500 copies). But that is countered by a few titles that have been on the bestseller’s lists. Thus the “average.”

Across all titles our agency has represented over the last seven years, the average book has sold 20,000 copies. Wow. We are so privileged to be working with such amazing authors!

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News You Can Use – Sept. 13, 2011

How Fiction Changed After 9/11 – The Economist explores the topic.

How Long Does Your Shared Link Stay Viable? – This fascinating study by bit.ly shows that if people don’t see your link within three hours, they never will. Sobering isn’t it?

Seven Deadly Sins of Self-Publishers – Darby Rae presents some sound advice.

Are You Wasting Time Checking the Amazon Rankings? – BookBuzzer describes a tool that alerts you only if your rankings go up…and a daily digest of activity. Wean yourself off your Amazon Rank addiction.

What Can C.S. Lewis Teach you about Writing? – Kevin deYoung writes this post about the writing life.

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