Well, the 2008 ACFW Conference has come and gone. Several people asked me on my way out if the Conference was “worth it.” My stock answer was and is, “ask me in a few months.” Obviously, the dream would be to come to the conference and have a dozen editors and agents shove contracts at you…but I’ve been to enough conventions/conferences—albeit not Christian fiction—to know that’s not the way it works.
Even though my work is in print by the tens of thousands (I’ve also learned that I actually need to get an actual count—seems agents and editors are interested in the numbers. The only one I really remember was my highest selling comic and that was The Arrow at 50,000—Hey—just found it on Wiki…cool), I feel like such a rookie. I am, of course, very new to this industry as you’ll see by the rest of this blog. But I’d told BJ that my goal for this conference was to go and meet people: writers, agents and editors and then hopefully come home with a handful of them wanting to learn more about me and my work. I know those guys are under a lot of pressure at a place like this and they have hundreds of wannabe authors throwing ideas at them. So I do feel like I’ve accomplished my goal as a small handful actually asked to see more. That’s a good thing. But, I’ve been in their shoes (the editors, not the agents) and I’m not sure how much of what I heard was just polite convention/conference talk, or genuine interest. We’ll just have to see what happens with it though.
I did have to chance to put faces to a lot of names I see on the forums and meet many of them in person: Sharon Lavy, Tiff, Stuart, John Robinson, Preacher, Krista(who snapped a photo of me and is on her blog!), JC, Kaye Dacus, Robert Treskillard and others I’m sure I’m forgetting but I’m not meaning to.
But I learned pretty quickly, romance is still the overriding genre with ACFW. When I attended the banquet, there were a whole lot of awards given to a whole lot of authors who’d written a whole lot of books—none of which I knew! I did manage to slip out unnoticed by all and catch the end of the LSU-Auburn game…and I still made it back to the banquet before the award ceremony was over.
Well, “I” thought it was funny.
I also learned that “onesheets,” those things that I sweated so much over the weeks leading up to the Conference, are completely unnecessary. Onesheets are apparently an optional item that is to help the author and editor (pitcher and catcher?) get beyond any nervousness and describe the project. That said, I’m glad I had them because the very nature of the work I’m pitching is enhanced by graphics—I mean, who doesn’t want to SEE what the superheroes look like? So, my onesheets, though technically unnecessary because I am intimately familiar with the work and could probably talk for hours about it, were an incredibly powerful aid for my pitches. So a big thank you to Steven Butler for the art and to Emily Kanalz for the fantastic coloring. I really appreciate your fantastic professional work.
Another thing I learned is that the publishing houses like their categories. Therefore it behooves an author to decide where he fits and then fit there! Because my 2 finished and 1 in-progress are all different, I didn’t really fit nicely into a category. I think that is something I need to figure out. It’s just another one of those things that I need to give brain-time and energy to. What I need to do is what I’ve always told writers to do with criticism: put it all in a big vat, stir it up, and take the best suggestions and run with them.
Again, though, ask me in a couple of months if the money spent was worth it. I certainly enjoyed my time there, but I think it’ll take that long to see any return on that investment.