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Workshop Electives

As part of your conference registration options, you will be given the choice of one of the following Workshop Electives from each of the available time slots.

As you review the options, you will see that each class is marked with a Level. The Levels are a tool to help you determine which classes will be most beneficial FOR YOU. These same Levels are also used to to help you select Continuing Education Sessions. You can find Level Definitions by clicking HERE, or you may also use the link provided in the navigation menu to the right. After reading the Level Definitions, make note the workshops and sessions you most want to attend and have it handy when you complete your registration.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are encouraged to study the workshop sessions carefully before registering. In an effort to be as environmentally responsible as possible, handouts for sessions will not be available onsite. You’ll receive handouts for your sessions via email the week prior to conference. If you purchase the complete syllabus, that electronic copy will be included in your registration packet.

Workshop Elective Session 1: Saturday- 9:30 am – 10:30 am

WS 1: The Plotting Puzzle
Piecing Together Your Story
Presented by: Lisa Jordan and Mindy Obenhaus
Level: Freshman

Beginning a new book is like starting a puzzle with the pieces scattered across the table, but The Plotting Puzzle workshop will help you to understand how to put your story together one piece at a time from those essential four corners to the framework and every detail in between.

Workshop Outline

Four corners lock your novel into place.

• Characters
o Basic information—age, profession, etc.
o Greatest dream
o Greatest fear
o Dark past moment
o Lie
• Goals
o Internal
o External
• Obstacles
o Every scene needs obstacles.
o What does character want?
o Why does character want that goal?
o What obstacles prevent character from getting or meeting her goal?
• Satisfying Ending
• Black moment
• Black moment effect
• Fighting for their greatest dreams
• Satisfying conclusion

The side pieces, or chapters, support the framework of your story.
• How many chapters?
• Chapters need to advance the plot.
• Chapters are broken down into SCENES.

Scenes are the middle pieces that add dimension to your story.
• Two types—action & reaction
• One point of view
• Must move story forward
• Goals—author & character
• Five Ws—who, what, when, where, why
• End with a problem
• Sensory details add depth
o Emotion of POV character
o Use of senses to build storyworld
o Voice

Final pieces
• Fastdrafting
• Story synopsis
• Editing tips

Additional Information:
• Writers Organizations & Conferences
• Resources

WS 2: 26 Keys to Improved Craft

Presented by: Shannon Vannatter
Level: Sophomore

This class covers 26 keys to get writers over the hump to publishable level.

Workshop Outline

1. POV





6. RUE





















WS 3: Help Me, I Need an Agent!
(And Help, I HAVE one!)
Presented by: Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young
Level: Sophomore

Agent Karen Ball and client Erin Taylor Young will lead a frank discussion about the author/client relationship—how to find each other, how to effectively work together, how the age of indie publishing affects authors and clients, and what to do when things go wrong.

Workshop Outline

You’ve heard it before, over and over: “You have to get an agent to get published!” Okay, so how does one do that? What makes an agent sit up and take notice? What will an agent do for you that you can’t do for yourself? What warning signs should make a writer reject an agent? In this age of indie publishing, are agents even necessary any more? All these questions and more will be discussed in this interactive workshop.

I. The Search:
• When should I look for an agent?
• How should I look for an agent?
• What does a good agent do?
• So when do I really need an agent?
• The right and wrong ways to get noticed by an agent

II. Expectations:
• What do we expect of each other?
• Is your dream agent really the right one for you?

III. Building the Relationship:
• Essentials of Partnership
• Essentials of Communication
• Essentials of Patience

IV. Pitfalls That Damage Your Relationship
• But my friend’s agent always…
• What? I’m just supposed to keep sending out more proposals??
• It’s all your fault…
• By the way, I missed my deadline…
• What do you mean I shouldn’t have sent that angry email??

V. When It’s Time to Part Ways
• The Whys
• The Hows

VI. Myths About Agents

WS 4:  Self Publishing Q&A

Presented by: Panel of: Hallee Bridgeman,Cynthia Hickey, Randy Ingermanson, Janice Thompson, Christy Barritt, and Traci Hilton
Level: Sophomore/Junior

Best selling indie Christian authors on a Q&A panel about self publishing in the Christian fiction world.

Workshop Outline

Best selling Christian fiction authors will come together in a panel that will host a Q&A round table discussion about self publishing in the Christian fiction market.

WS 5: The Basics of Contract Negotiation

Presented by: Chip MacGregor
Level: Sophomore

What every writer needs to know before signing a publishing contract.

Workshop Outline

The focus of this workshop will be to help those who are unfamiliar with publishing contracts. We’ll help authors see the big picture and create a strategy for negotiations. Our basic questions will include:
1. What is a publishing contract?
2. What do I look for in the contract?
3. What should I avoid?
4. What should I ask for?
5. What is my strategy?

The goal of this workshop is to equip writers with some basic tools for evaluating their own contracts, knowing what to expect and how to respond, and recognizing where to turn for help, should the need arise.

Authors are given more choices in publishing these days, as they are invited to self-publish, or partner with a flexible publisher, or work with a micro-house, or sign a contract with a legacy publisher. Nobody can know all the answers, but having a strategy for moving forward in today’s changing publishing environment is a necessity.

WS 6: Taming the Social Media Beast

Presented by: Dani Pettrey and Becky Wade
Level: Junior

Sharing effective tips to tame the social media beast.

Workshop Outline

I. The Purpose of Social Media: Setting Goals
A. Why are you on social media?
B. Which social media format is your best fit?
C. What are the tangible goals for your time invested online?

II. Creating An Action Plan: Concrete steps to achieve those goals
A. How can you best achieve the top three goals you just listed?
B. Writing out those steps

III. Increasing Effectiveness: Tips for added value without added time
A. Creating fresh content quickly
B. Using time saving techniques
C. When is the best time to post
D. Which type of posts get the most feedback

IV. Building the dreaded platform: Making a name for yourself
A. Who do you want to be known as?
B. What is your message?
C. How will your social media posts and interaction convey that message?

V. Building your tribe: Connecting with your readers or soon-to-be readers
A. Know your audience
B. Be relatable
C. Show a bit of your personality
D. Give, share and reciprocate

VI. Latest changes, rules and options
A. Latest changes to the top social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest)
B. Latest Rules that affect writers
C. Options for writers and authors (Business accounts vs. Personal ones)

WS 7: Breaking Out of the Midlist

Presented by: Wendy Lawton
Level: Senior

Innovative strategies for the novelist whose books seem to be consigned to midlist doldrums or those worried there won’t be a next contract offer.

Workshop Outline

I. What constitutes the dread midlist?

II. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
a. Why can’t I get a definitive answer on what is an acceptable number?
i. Depends on house
ii. Depends on expectations
iii. Depends on advance
iv. Depends on number of returns
b. Can I get a rough estimate of success for me?
i. Advance
ii. Excitement temperature
iii. Extenuating circumstances

III. How long can an author stay stuck in midlist before losing his/her slot?

IV. How can I break out of midlist?
a. Write a breakout book
b. Find success at smaller house
c. Build numbers with category
d. Write for more than one house if possible
e. Deal with spiritual issues, if any
i. Motives
ii. Closed doors?
iii. Seeking God for the answer

V. If no movement or if a writer cannot get a new contract
a. Keep working on writing
b. New genre?
c. Pen name
d. DIY publishing or small press

VI. Still no movement?
a. Seek the Answer
b. Is there a service/ ministry writing job you’re supposed to be doing instead?

VII. Don’t be afraid to dream and dream big. God may not be through with you. As Mark Batterson says, “Sometimes God shows up. Sometimes He shows off.”

Workshop Elective Session 2: Saturday- 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

WS 8: Writing YA in the CBA

Presented by: Mary Weber
Level: All Grades

Solid tips for crafting and marketing God-honoring stories to capture the interest of publishers and buyers, and the hearts of teens.

Workshop Outline

Today’s teens are book savvy, soul smart, and always on the lookout for the next epic story. But with so many YA books vying for teen, publisher, and buyer attention, how do you make yours stand out? And WHERE should it stand out? CBA? ABA? In this workshop we’ll look at what elements create awesome YA stories as well as the best marketing platforms to sell them. We’ll also explore our unique role as writers to speak promise into the hearts of teens whose life stories were crafted by the ultimate Author of All.

WS 9: The Suspense Writer’s Toolbox

Presented by: Rick Acker
Level: All Grades

Add suspense to any genre by learning to use the tools in the suspense writer’s toolbox.

Workshop Outline

A Definition and a Caveat
• Definition—What is suspense? Suspense, defined broadly, is “uncertainty that matters.”
o Uncertainty about what? Anything, so long as it matters.
o Matters to whom? The reader.
• Hitchcock bomb under the table example.
• Caveat—Do all stories need suspense? No.

The Wrench: Keeping the Tension at Just the Right Level
• Most important tool in the box
• When to tighten
o On a macro level, tension should be tightening throughout the story
• One common mistake: Set tension level early and leave it there. Tension level can’t be simply holding steady.
• External tension
• Internal tension
• When to loosen
• Tension is not a one-way ratchet. It’s okay—often necessary—to dial back the tension temporarily.

The Hammer and Nails: What Holds Your Story Together?
• Plot-driven suspense
o Most traditional suspense novels
• Examples:
• Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
• Jack Ryan series by Tom Clancy
• James Bond series by Ian Fleming
• Character-driven suspense
o Examples:
• Psycho
• Silence of the Lambs
• Different tension levels when James Bond is having a witty conversation with a pretty girl and when Hannibal Lecter is

The Screwdriver: Adding Unexpected Twists
• Hardest tool to use
• Twists that work
o Must be believable
o Must be advance the plot
o Must surprise the reader

• Twists that don’t
o The deus ex machine
o Character lobotomies

The Tape Measure and Level: Getting the Details Right
• How to research
• Avoiding loose ends
o The importance of test readers
• People who like to read what you write
• People who will speak the truth in love
• Ask detailed questions

The Saw and Sandpaper: Cutting and Smoothing the Final Product
• Yes, it’s one of your favorites scenes, but . . .
• The importance of style

WS 10: Historical Research Without the Headaches

Presented by: Sarah Sundin
Level: All Grades

If you want to provide accurate historical details without losing focus on your story, join us to explore principles of conducting research, creative resources to explore, and how to document and organize your material.

Workshop Outline

General Principles
1) A solemn responsibility
2) Inaccuracy breaks “fictional dream.”
3) Do your best but don’t obsess.
4) Don’t overwhelm your readers.
5) “Rule of Threes”
6) Never assume. Watch out for modern views.
7) Watch the chronology.
8) Start general, work down to the specific.
9) Bird’s eye view or worm’s eye view—or both?
10) Research rabbit trails—paths to enlightenment or black holes?

1) Books
2) Internet
3) Maps
4) Government documents
5) Journals, memoirs, personal interviews
6) Experts—museums, professional organizations, national parks, online communities
7) Contemporary newspapers, catalogs, magazines, literature, movies
8) Your friendly neighborhood librarian
9) Professional researchers

Documentation and Organization
1) Bibliography
2) Notes and documentation
3) How to organize your research material in a binder
4) How to organize your research material in computer files (Word, Evernote, OneNote, Scrivener)

WS 11: The Power of Story Question

Presented by: Beth Vogt
Level: Sophomore

Developing your novel’s Story Question so that it fuels the development of your novel from Chapter One to The End.

Workshop Outline

Has your work-in-progress (WIP) ever run out of gas? You’re motoring along, past Act 1 and the Inciting Incident that started your main characters’ journey. A quick glance at your notes indicate you’re somewhere in Act 2. But the story you were so excited about just a few weeks ago is sputtering – and then it grinds to a halt and you’re stranded on the side of the writing road. Did you remember to tank up before you started writing? Maybe you put the wrong type of gas in your car. Did you even think to fuel up with a Story Question? In this workshop, author Beth K. Vogt will:
• Define what a Story Question is and why it is so powerful
• Teach four questions to ask to help discover your novel’s Story Question
• Share examples of Story Questions from published novels
• Provide time for participants to brainstorm possible Story Questions for their novels

WS 12: He…Giggled?

Presented by: Ronie Kendig
Level: All Grades

Don’t let your gender betray your characters—learn how to make your scenes reflect the POV character’s gender with practical tips based on scientific facts!

Workshop Outline

While generalizations about males and females are often exaggerated, they are based in truth—there are differences in the way men and women talk and think. Writers have the great task of translating the known differences into plausible, compelling fiction and characters.

I. The Science
• Male Indicators
• Female Indicators

II. The Gist
• Involvement
• Information

III. Gender in Characterization
• Master Characters

IV. Action & Movement Within a Story

V.  Saturate Gender in:
• Point of View
• Dialogue
• Narrative

VI. Excerpts

WS 13:  How to Write for ABA While Keeping Your CBA Values

Presented by: Sue Brower, Natasha Kern, and Karen Solem
Level: Junior/Senior

As opportunities for fiction writers within CBA are shrinking both with publishers and with the CBA stores, how to write the kind of story you are committed to but for the general marketplace.

Workshop Outline

Workshop Elective Session 3: Saturday- 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

WS 14: Writing is a Decision

Presented by: Kathleen Y'Barbo
Level: Freshman

10 Things I Wish My 1996 Self Had Known explores the myth and reality of the writing life in a fresh and candid way, giving new writers hope that no matter how little you know at the beginning, God can use it all to move you down the path to publication.

Workshop Outline

Writing Is a Decision

I decided to become a writer. It wasn’t my first attempt. I’d been writing since I learned to spell back in first grade, but I certainly hadn’t shown it to anyone. So, let me give you a little head’s up on what I wish I’d been told way back in 1996.


• keep learning but get started anyway
• mistakes are ok just learn from them
• teachable spirit
• read how-to books

• in and out of your genre
• good and bad stuff—know what’s selling and what’s not

• go outside—writer’s field trips, exercise
• develop hobbies
• be friends with non-writers. Balance is essential.

• your words are not written in stone
• writing is a team effort. Listen, learn, and revise

Think and act like a business person
• educate yourself and be professional
• what a writer must do other than write

• getting published doesn’t solve your problems
• If anything, it gives you a whole new set of them

• perks: instant friends all over the world
• chatty community, cheerleaders
• normals find us interesting

• rejections
• time away from the fun stuff
• sometimes hard choices

We make choices every day on how to spend our time, and we make time for the things we choose. Habakkuk 2:2-3 (Msg)

WS 15: Don’t Paint By Numbers

Presented by: Dr. Richard Mabry
Level: Sophomore

Good painters don’t paint by the numbers, and good authors don’t write “by the numbers,” either.

Workshop Outline

Good painters don’t paint by the numbers, and good authors don’t write “by the numbers,” either. I’d suggest that in our writing we’d do well to follow the painter’s example. I’ll show how each step is important for both the painter and the writer. This begins with laying out the colors on your palette, followed by sketching in the rough outlines of the painting. Then fill in the painting. Finally, apply finishing touches. After that, add a proper frame and you may have created a

WS 16: Working with Your Agent

Presented by: Steve Laube and Tamela Hancock Murray
Level: Freshman/Sophomore

Veteran agents Steve Laube and Tamela Hancock Murray help authors get the most out of their relationships with their agents.

Workshop Outline

This workshop to welcomes authors who may be fairly new to working with an agent, experienced authors will benefit from this workshop as well. Steve and Tamela will discuss Expectation, Communication, Frustration, and Elimination. With these four points, Steve and Tamela will help authors understand what to expect and how to communicate effectively. They will also help authors learn how to deal with frustration that may happen with agents and other people involved with the author’s career. And finally, they will discuss what to do should the agent/author partnership no longer work. Authors who want to learn from two agents who’ve dealt with every scenario should plan to join us!

WS 17: SHOW Me a Story
Writing Cinematically
Presented by: Deborah Raney
Level: Sophomore

Using movie techniques—writing cinematically—is a great way to be sure you are SHOWING instead of telling.

Workshop Outline

If your book was a movie, what would the scene you’re writing look like ONSCREEN? By translating a few common film techniques to writing, you can insure that you are showing instead of telling.

1. Jump cuts and fade outs. Don’t feel like you have to wrap every scene up in a nice bow. It’s perfectly fine to jump into a scene in the middle of the action that’s already in progress.

2. Cliffhanger. A good way to keep your readers turning pages is to end your scenes in the middle of action. Force the reader to turn the page to find out what you left him hanging not knowing.

3. Dissolve. In a similar way, you can end one scene and transition to the next by taking a visual element from the first scene and using it in the next.

4. Zooms. If the movie camera zooms in on an object, you can bet that it is important, and will likely play a significant role in the story later. By taking your writers “camera” and describing a close-up of an object or action, you give it the same importance of an object zoomed in on in a movie.

5. Lighting. By describing the light in your scene—bright and sunny, hazy, moonlit, etc.—you not only give the reader a visual image to picture, but you can also use light to show mood, or to be a metaphor for good/evil, happiness/depression, etc.

6. Establishing shot. In film, an establishing shot is a long or wide-angle shot (sometimes an aerial shot) opening a scene that’s intended to show the audience the setting, time of day, year, weather, etc. In writing, this can be a good way to paint the big picture. Just remember that most readers today don’t have the patience for more than a paragraph or two of description.

7. Background music. You can create a wonderful mood for your scene by helping the reader hear the music that would be playing in the background if your novel were a movie.

WS 18: 10 Awkward Questions

Presented by: Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren
Level: Senior

10 Awkward Questions every author doesn’t want to ask about their publishing career.  (and honest answers from multi-published authors).

Workshop Outline

Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to ask serious – even awkward – but necessary questions of long-time published authors (and get honest answers?)  This workshop – or rather, discussion – pulls back the curtain on big questions in publishing and answer that will equip new (or even multi-published) authors with a game plan for where-ever they are on the journey.

Some questions we’ll cover:

How much money is normal for a new author to make?
What happens if your book doesn’t sell –is your career over?
What do I do if a contract is cancelled? (or my editor leaves?)
Should I change publishers (and when to know)
When do I go full-time?
Is it financially better to indy publish?
What if I never make it big?
When should I switch agents?
How do I handle jealousy?
What tips do you have on building a long-term career?

Taught by multi-published authors Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren, with time for open Q & A, it’s a honest discussion with those who have been there, done that and are still on the journey.

WS 19: Pushing the Refresh Button on Your Career

Presented by: Panel of: Kristin Billerbeck, Brandilyn Collins, Anita Higman, and DiAnn Mills
Level: Senior

This panel will feature four seasoned CBA professionals, and the topic will cover how to push the refresh button on your writing career.

Workshop Outline

Ever feel like you need to push the refresh button on your career? That you just can’t find your voice, your audience, or even your shoes in the morning? I, along with three seasoned authors, have come to show you how to refresh yourself and hopefully guide you toward a more satisfying season in your writing career.

1. Have you ever reached a crisis point in your career, and what steps did you take to move forward?

2. Are you glad you made the changes?

3. How did those changes help your career?

4. How did those changes hurt your career?

5. Has God specifically given you a course correction, and did it take long to obey Him in that?

6. What obstacles did you put up as you changed course?

7. If you changed genres, how long did it take for you to feel you’d had some success?

8. Did your readers follow you to your new genre, or did you start over with new readers?

9. What advice do you have for staying refreshed as a writer?

10. When do you get your best ideas?

11. Any tips on better ways to brainstorm?

12. I think a huge problem for writers is social media. It eats away at our writing time and can lead us to career burnout. How do you balance social media with your writing life?

13. Have you ever tried writer’s prompts to get your creative juices flowing? How has that helped?

14. What are some of the ways you’ve had to adapt in this ever-changing marketplace?

WS 20: Reader-Focused Marketing:
What's in it for THEM?
Presented by: Rachelle Gardner and Karen Witemeyer
Level: Senior

Shift the self-promotion paradigm from used car salesman (Buy my book!) to beloved benefactor (What can I give you?).

Workshop Outline

Reader-Focused Marketing
What’s In It For Them?

1. Creating a reader-centric website strategy
• Research – As a reader, what do you like / not like about your favorite author websites?
• POV – Look at your own website from the POV of the reader. How easy is it to find what you are interested in?
• Ask Questions - Why is the average reader visiting your site? What do they hope to learn? What will bring them back? Prioritize your site design around the answers to these questions.

2. Selecting a design that allows for a relationship between author and reader
• Except for your books, your website is the single most powerful way to show the reader who you are.
• The design must reflect your style/brand.
• It must project professional quality.
• It must be well-organized and easy to navigate.
• It should encourage relationship-building (newsletters, contact pages, blogs – ways for readers to connect with you)
• The design must be simple to interpret – LESS TEXT, BIGGER FONT, MORE GRAPHICS, MORE WHITE SPACE

3. Be lavish with your website content – give generously to your readers.
• The more you give the reader, the more you show you care about them not just what you can get out of them.
• Bonus Content – Deleted Scenes, Unpublished Epilogues, Character Backgrounds, Interesting Story-Building Tidbits, etc.
• Contests – Pros and Cons

4. Promotional Items – make them practical. Give the reader a reason to hang on to them.

5. Social Media – Less Used Car Salesman, More Authentic Interaction
• Understanding your ideal reader, and knowing what interests them
• 80% of your online activity should be topics that resonate with your reader, only weaving in a brand message 20% of the time
• What it means to be interesting (posts are so compelling, people want to share them)
• What it means to be interested (loving on your readers)
• Coming up with a set of topics and themes that will guide all of your online content decisions
• Be aware of the response you want from your readers, and make sure you’re making it easy for them to give that response. (i.e. click through to your website? sign up for your newsletter? click Like on your Facebook? buy your book?)

• The goal: building a community of raving fans

Workshop Elective Session 4: Saturday- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

WS 21: Refining Your Novel Proposal

Presented by: Chip MacGregor
Level: Sophomore

What are the ten things you can do to move your novel proposal from “good” to “great”?

Workshop Outline

This workshop will offer ten keys to improving a novel proposal. We will talk about:

1. Unique Voice as an essential aspect

2. The importance of a clear target audience

3. Clarity of story (shared 3 ways in the proposal)

4. How to make the proposal look professional

5. The question of one book vs a series

6. The important of “No Apologies, No Excuses”

7. What it means to grab the editor’s attention

8. Knowing what an editor is looking for

9. The proposal as part of your writing plan

10. Showing your investment in the project

WS 22: The Changing Face of Christian Fiction

Presented by: Katie Bond, Daisy Hutton, and Becky Philpott
Level: Junior

Three industry insiders with a passion for fiction written by Christians will talk about the unique opportunities and challenges in the Christian Fiction space.

Workshop Outline

There’s a uniquely American story around the rise of what became known as Christian fiction in America. We’ll take a look at the origins of this phenomenon and at the cultural and marketplace changes marking the rise of this clearly-defined genre, as well as the ensuing changes that have taken place since.

Then three industry insiders with a passion for fiction written by Christians will talk about the unique opportunities and challenges in this space.

Becky Philpott will focus on authorship and content development. What worked in the past? What’s working now? What’s coming next?

Daisy Hutton will focus on the role of the publisher. What worked in the past? What’s working now? What’s coming next?

Katie Bond will focus on audience and on marketing and publicity. What worked in the past? What’s working now? What’s coming next?

WS 23: Have a Rejected Book?
We Can Give it New Life!
Presented by: Panelists Kathryn Albright, Patricia Bradley, Scarlett Dunn, Anslee Urban, Kelly Irvin, Dana Lynn, and Mary Sue Seymour
Level: Sophomore/Junior

Writers will learn how to turn a rejected book into an accepted book.

Workshop Outline

This will be a Q&A panel where writers can ask questions and get their book that been rejected fixed.

WS 24: All About Agents

Presented by: Wendy Lawton
Level: Sophomore/Junior

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Working with an Agent.

Workshop Outline

Intro: What does an agent do that you can’t do for yourself? Why Work with an Agent?
A good agent will:
• show your project to a number of publishers (talk about why that’s good)
• place your work at an appropriate house for the kind of writing you want to do
• or successfully handle the situation if more than one publisher is interested
• negotiate the royalty and advance and which rights the publisher will have the ability to exercise
• use his/her contract template with that publisher (something neither you nor an attorney has access to)
• oversee the life of the book (help you to deal with anything that goes wrong in the life of your book
• work to exploit the rights that were withheld for your benefit.
• be a career advisor
• be a sounding board (always talk to your agent rather than try to work out a problem yourself)
• be a bad cop to your good cop
• be a stillpoint in a turning universe
• look beyond today to position you for the future.

What should you look for in an agent?
• Integrity
• A good match relationally
• Strong mediator/negotiator skills
• Genuinely likes your writing
• Someone who understands it’s not just about the money

How Do You Tell A Good Agent from a Bad Agent? A lazy, overworked, or underqualified agent can seriously harm your career by:
• sending you to the wrong people,
• reading and negotiating contracts haphazardly,
• letting your work languish, unsubmitted, on his or her desk, hurting your relationship with editors and publishers.
• charging you fees to read your work but not placing your work.

What questions should you ask an agent? Before you ask a single question
• Study their websites
• Read their blogs
• Ask other authors for recommendations.
• Ask editors.

If the agent expresses an interest in you, then interview him or her.
• Find out why the person became an agent.
• What philosophy does this person have of agenting.
• Some agents will shop anything you give them vs. some who will work hard with you formulating your ideas and putting together a proposal, some will read your finished manuscript before you send it to your publisher.
• Some don’t want to hear from you—they’ll call you. Some want to function with more teamwork.
• What houses has that person placed manuscripts with?
• What genres has the agent been most successful in placing?
• Whom would the agent suggest as a reference among her clients?

What is an agent looking for in you?
• Develop yourself as a brand name.
• Be able to talk about your project.
• Make yourself marketable.
• Make your project marketable.
• Work hard on the craft.
• Know the rules; follow the rules.
• Understand what the agent expects of you.
o How many books do you need to write per year?
o What form of communication—email, phone, none of the above?
o How often will you communicate?
o Does the agent want to help you hone your ideas, proposals? What about long-range planning?
• Keep communication channels open.

An agent is important member of your team. Approach the task of finding an agent with care and prayer.

WS 25:  Your First Year:
Dos, Don’ts & the Lines in Between
Presented by: Panelists Kristy Cambron, Sarah Ladd, Katherine Reay, and Mary Weber
Level: Sophomore/Junior

Fresh off their first year in the Christian publishing industry, a panel of authors share the Dos and Don’ts once a new author has signed on the dotted line.

Workshop Outline

New authors from four different genres of Christian fiction will sit down in a candid one-on-one panel discussion format outlining the biggest surprises (and strategies) authors can expect in their first year as an author.

Topics include:
- Self-Care / Spiritual Walk – (As Christians first and authors second, the panel agrees that the author’s focus on their spiritual walk with Christ is a critical component on this new journey– especially in the first year. Panelists share simple self-care techniques and reminders for spiritual enrichment.),
- Work/life balance – (Panelists discuss how to balance the new demands of an author career with existing job and family commitments. Topic also includes family-care techniques, time-management and organization strategies
for multiple projects),
- Marketing/Promotion – (Panelists discuss strategies for platform building and the flow of the business for an author),
- Networking –  (Panelists will present strategies for networking, relationship investing, and will cover the range of emotions authors may experience with reviews, interviews, and reader response), and
- First year must-haves – (Panelists present things new authors just can’t do without in their first year as an author, ranging from Things to keep with you (like books in your car or Sharpies in your tote bag), Things to do ahead of time (like developing author relationships for cross-promotion, endorsements etc.), and Things to write in advance (like your Author Notes, Acknowledgements, Reading Group Questions, Dedication, Further Reading sections of your book, interview Q/A and more).

WS 26: Write From The Deep

Presented by: Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young
Level: Junior/Senior

In this session based on Ezekiel 2:1-3:22, Ball and Young will challenge writers to go deep with God in their call and their craft, for it is in the Deep that writers find power and renewal.

Workshop Outline

God’s call to us is clear: come away with Him, let His words sink deep into us first, then take His truths to the world. In the ever-changing and challenging world of publishing, writers need a way to find refreshment, renewal, and restored passion. They will find all that and more by going into the deep with God.

Together we’ll explore:

When He Calls Us to the Deep
• Why God directed Ezekiel to go out into the valley
• What happens when writers go into the valley with Him

Letting God’s Words Sink Deep Into Our Heart First
To go deep, we must:
• Prioritize
• Listen first for ourselves
• Be vulnerable
• Be authentic

Practical ways to go into the Deep
• Showing up
• Learning to Abide in God

And we’ll see how He uses the Deep to help us:

Find My Story/Message
• Knowing your true message
• Understanding and serving the audience God has given you

Face Down Obstacles
• Lies
• Jealousy
• Discouragement

And finally, we’ll explore what it means to be faithful to the call and craft
• What being faithful really means
• Simple keys to being faithful

WS 27: The Data Behind the Book:
Metadata Primer
Presented by: Randy Ingermanson and Lacy Williams
Level: Junior/Senior

Everything you need to know about keywords, categories, titles, blurbs and book interiors and how they can impact your book sales.

Workshop Outline

1) What is metadata?
2) Title and subtitle
3) Series info
4) Categories
5) Keyphrases and tags
6) Product Description
7) From the Author
8) About the Author
9) Differences in metadata on various retailers and other platforms
* Amazon
* B&N
* Apple
* Kobo
* Google Play
* Smashwords
* Goodreads
*Your website
10) Formatting your metadata in HTML or other formats
11) Managing your metadata
12) Sales copy for FB, Twitter, email
13) Helpful resources

You must be at least 18 years old to attend conference without a parent/guardian present with you at all times.

Participation of an individual presenter, agent, editor, or publisher in the ACFW conference does not constitute endorsement by ACFW. Conference attendees are advised to use due diligence and take personal responsibility when choosing industry professionals with whom to schedule appointments or enter into agreement.