By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
As in every year I attend the ACFW Conference, it was fabulous! This year the conference had grown, in spite of a deep recession, to a record number of almost 630 attendees. While I'm only listing a few, there a some significant changes that I think will benchmark future conferences.
1) People were able to make Mentor appointments with seasoned authors who are published and who have experience in knowing what it takes to build a career in the Christian publishing industry.
2) Marketing appointments were available to those who need a little guidance in building their platform, promoting specific books, and focusing on strategies for their career goals.
3) More press were there and available to authors than in the past. Romantic Times Magazine had a reporter who took the time to interview authors and learn more about ACFW. Christian Retail was there interviewing authors on camera and creating a YouTube video of these interviews. I also met a representative at Christian Book Distributors who wants to promote more Christian fiction.
4) Instead of having three winners in each contest category, there was one winner and a runner-up. This made the awards banquet go much faster. Also, Genesis certificates were waiting outside the banquet when it was over rather than having each runner-up come to the stage to pick them up during the ceremony.
5) For those who have finaled in the Genesis in the past, new label pins are available.
6) ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award was given for the first time to Carol Johnson, an editor of Bethany House Publishers. Janette Oke, who is well-known in the industry for pioneering Christian Romance with her Love Comes Softly series that have been made into the Hallmark series movies, was there to present the award.
For a complete list of finalists and winners of the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, and the Carol Awards, formerly known as the Book of the Year for published authors, go here.
This is not a complete list as I could not attend every spotlight and workshop, therefore, I'm only posting what I heard at the 2010 ACFW Conference. I'm only listing specific changes since most of their boiler-plate guidelines are already on their website or typically known in the industry.
Abingdon Press - As a writer for Abingdon Press, I can tell you that they want "different". Their books are generally 85-100,000 words. They want depth to a story with deep emotion that will transform and touch readers. Even though they are open to some topics that some of the other publishers may not be, they do not want abortion, speculative, fantasy and science fiction. They may be open to stories with angels on a biblical basis. Everything must stay within the guidelines of a world Christian view and be biblical. They accept both historical and contemporary. (http://abingdonpress.com)
Barbour Publishing - This is one publisher that has always been open to non-agented submissions from unpublished writers. Starting in October/November, they will only accept agented submissions. They are still acquiring for the Heartsong line (45-50,000 words) and their longer mainstream line up to 100,000 words. They typically publish contemporary and historical romance, including anthologies up to 20,000 words. No fantasy, science fiction, or speculative fiction. (http:www.barbourbooks.com)
Harvest House Publishers - While Harvest House has published Linore Burkhard's Regency romances, they are not open to more Regencies. Right now they prefer historicals 90-100,000 words set in America, prairie, westerns, and mystery. No young adult, chic lit, women's fiction, science fiction/fantasy. (http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com)
Summerside Press - You can pretty much go by their submission guidelines on their website. The only change is in international locations for their new historical line. Like Barbour, they do better with American set historicals. (http://www.summersidepress.com)
Tyndale - They are mostly looking for historicals set in the 19th to early 20th centuries. While they are not actively seeking Regencies, they are not opposed to them either. Tyndale is also open to women's fiction, suspense/mystery/thrillers. They do NOT want westerns, fantasy/science fiction, chic lit , or end times fiction. (http://www.tyndale.com)
To my disappointment, I did not get a chance to meet with the following publishers or attend their spotlights: Thomas Nelson, Whitaker House, Guideposts, Steeple Hill, Waterbrook Multnomah, Bethany House, Howard Books, B&H Publishing, Marcher Lord Press, Revell, or Zondervan. If you have any information you would like to share, please post it in the comment section or send it to me and I'll be happy to add it.
I've posted lots of photos of the conference on my Facebook Page.