I spent last Sunday-Tuesday in Atlanta at the International Christian Retail show. I’ve been to quite a few writers’ conferences, but this was my first event where the focus was on selling books rather than writing them. And it was a hoot.
I went to hopefully connect with retailers who might stock my novel. I did a book signing, some interviews with on-line magazines, joined a panel talking about trends in Christian fiction, and just generally talked to everyone I met. Folks who know me will tell you I’m not shy, but by Tuesday mid-morning my social super-power was beginning to flag.
I also had a chance to meet/see lots of authors whom I admire. I even snagged some of their books during the signings (they give the books away–it’s a marketing thing). I saw Phil & Kay Robertson from Duck Dynasty, but didn’t get to meet them because I had an interview (I’m sure they’d understand). I enjoyed wonderful meals with colleagues and got to attend the Christy Awards and cheer on friends old and new.
And here’s what I took away from the experience:
- Christian authors are WONDERFUL. It would be easy to get competitive over limited shelf space, awards, and attention, but everyone I met was generous, kind, thoughtful, encouraging, and just generally supportive.
- Christian retailers are WONDERFUL. They wanted to know about my book, they wanted to know about me, they invited me to sit with them, talk with them, and hoped they’d have a chance to sell my books.
- Book signings are FUN. Okay, we were giving the books away so it wasn’t a tough sell, but still, everyone was so nice and they could have skipped my book to make room in their suitcases for someone else’s. Made me feel like the real deal.
- My publisher is AWESOME. From the marketing and sales folks to my editor to the president of Baker Publishing, they all made me feel like part of something bigger than me. Actually, something bigger than all of us since the focus is on God.
- My agent and agency are AMAZING. I always love seeing Wendy and this time I also got to hang out with Janet and Mary. Such lovely, sweet-spirited ladies who can also lower the boom if needed. Seeing them cheer on agency-mates up for awards was a treat.
- But most of all, I learned that if I’m willing to leave it all in God’s hands, this being an author business will ENRICH me. I was tempted to stress over things like late shuttles and distant hotels and not knowing what I was doing half the time. I was tempted to try to leverage everything into book sales and attention for my book. But seriously, it would be laughable to think I’ve come this far on my own, so why would it be up to me now? Apparently, God has a plan and I’m just happy he included me.