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Why ACFW is always on my schedule

Here are Rusty Shelton’s thoughts on the conference. Rusty is with Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists and a regular attendee at the conference.
I started going to the ACFW conference three years ago and it has become one of my favorite events. When I initially made the decision to start attending the conference, it was partly due to the fact that the event was held just up the road in Dallas, TX. It was nice to have such a big event so close to home for a change. Unfortunately, ACFW figured out that Texas remains extremely hot in September and opted to move this year’s event to Minneapolis, MN.

The conference takes place September 18-21, 2008 at the Mall of America and I’m looking forward to making the trip despite a few challenges.Not only is the event no longer close to home, but it also takes place on a home football weekend for the University of Texas Longhorns (I don’t miss those games). Yet, I’m still flying halfway across the country to attend.

Why?

Although we have a great track record with CBA Fiction (thanks in large part to the talents of Nancy Rue, Dandi Daley Mackall and others), since we are so selective about books within that genre that we represent, my decision to return to the conference this year doesn’t really have much to do with getting new business.

I did promise to give a presentation on “How to Land Ink, Airtime and Other Coverage for Your Book,” but that isn’t the main reason I’m going either.

I attend because not only do I get to meet talented writers and see old friends, but I always have a good time. ACFW knows how to put on a quality writers’ conference—this is an event that draws hundreds of aspiring authors each year for several reasons:

- Top agents like Beth Jusino, Chip MacGregor, Steve Laube, Joyce Hart and many others are always in attendance and, much like the Writers’ League of Texas Conference, they are there to spend time with the attendees and pick up new talent. This is an event that has launched many a career thanks to the presence of quality agents.

- Publishing houses also love this event, with top fiction editors like David Webb, Kim Moore, Andy Meisenheimer, Alan Arnold, Sue Brower and many others in attendance to search for quality writers with great ideas.

- ACFW boasts success story after success story and many of their top authors got their start at this conference. My first year at the conference I watched an unpublished Cara Putman win an award and, two years later, she is now awaiting the launch of her fourth book.

- Best-selling novelist Brandilyn Collins never fails to entertain as the MC for the event and Rachel Hauck’s music is just amazing.

- It provides a great forum for industry professionals to interact with up and coming authors. Again, although publicity may be the last thing on an unpublished author’s mind at most conferences, I’m always impressed by the number of authors at this event that understand how important good publicity will be to their success.

I was invited to speak to the Central Texas chapter of ACFW a few months ago and at the end of my speech I encouraged each one of the authors to attend this year’s event. I did so because although experiencing breakout success can be tough, few conferences can provide as much insight into the industry as this one.

Registration is still open for this year’s event, so grab a spot while you can.

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