Thursday, October 16, 2014

2014 ACFW Random Observations From My Corner of the World by Jim Hart

I was able to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in St. Louis in September and here are a few random observations:

For me, the best part of conferences is meeting authors, whether at an appointment, sharing a meal, or waiting for the elevator. And I had some great conversations with a number of editors. It’s energizing to be around so many creative types.

As I met with my appointments I discovered that the range of genres represented was very diverse. I never knew what story an author was going to pitch: A cowboy love story? A deaf musician? A boy who rides dragons? A young pick-pocket who goes to work for the police? A story of racism in a farming community? A story featuring a major Biblical character? It’s almost like digging into a box of chocolates (without hearing Tom Hank’s voice). As a short-attention-span person, I really enjoyed it.

I found the number of writers who are writing YA and/or YA fantasy amazing. It seemed like every fourth person had a YA fantasy to pitch. Obviously a lot of people are reading that genre. It’s a shame that they are so hard to sell. I tried to be as encouraging as I could, because it seemed that nearly every editor at ACFW was NOT looking for for YA or fantasy/sci-fi. Although I did read a blog today from an editor who acquires YA fantasy for a general market publisher and her advice was to write from your heart, not to what is trending. Great advice!

So to all the authors that pitched to me at ACFW – thanks! You were the highlight of my day(s)! Especially those who had their proposals, one sheets, samples and manuscripts on a flash drive.
One author handed me a flash drive business card, which I had never seen before.  I had to wait until she got up from the table to try and figure out how to open it. I would suggest to every writer who has to make a pitch to stop what you’re doing now and google ‘flash drive business card’. It was a pretty impressive piece of tech, one that’s probably been available much longer than I realize.

And it was especially great to be able to share a meal…..and a long walk…..with a nice group of our Hartline clients. A special thanks to those that helped push Mom’s scooter across the street as it’s battery began to die. (That’s one way to work off a plate of lasagna).

Because Joyce and Linda Glaz were both nominated for the ACFW agent of the year award we were anticipating the awards banquet. The saying "two out of three ain't bad" says it all! And though the award was presented to Chip MacGregor there were a lot of authors in the room rooting for our Hartline agents!

And now…..back to reading the proposals and samples that I picked up at the conference!

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