Friday 1 November 2013

ACFW Conference Recap - a chat with Dorothy Adamek

Hi all, Ian here. 

Dotti and a dear Canadian friend Cherie Tarcia Gagnon
A few weeks prior to leaving for the US, Dotti suggested we tag team on providing the ACW community with a rundown of our time in Indianapolis. As it turned out I was a late no show due to illness. In joining the Downunder group of very curious observers I figured I’d have a chat with Dotti about her experience.

Dotti gave a wonderfully detailed outline of a typical day at the Conference in Wednesday’s post. However, I wanted to dig a bit deeper on certain elements. So enough of an intro, grab a cuppa and let’s hear some more from Dotti.

Attending the conference is a significant investment in time and money. Some readers may be unclear as to why many of us believe it’s an important conference to attend. So why make the trip to ACFW in the first place? This is your second time so what were seeking to achieve by attending?

Yes, my first time at the ACFW conference was in 2010. I returned this year with the aim to secure an agent. Not all publishing houses are equal, and a good agent will work on behalf of their client to find the right fit. The ACFW conference allows delegates the opportunity to pitch to agents and editors, something I can’t do from Australia.

To give readers a sense of the scope of representation, this year there were 19 agents and 32 editors in attendance. I understand it’s the largest representation in any Christian fiction conference in USA and hence, probably the world.

Dotti, any reflections on meeting agents and editors, as they can be quite intimidating even for seasoned attendees?

Editors and agents are people, just like writers. They carry the same insecurities we do, and in a formal interview situation, understand nerves can mess with us all. Preparation is the best way to approach an interview. Research. Know what an agency/publishing house is actively looking for, and only approach them if it matches what you’re selling. If you know they ask for one-sheets, have them ready. If they say they don’t care to see them, tuck them away. A ready smile doesn’t hurt, either. And if you have an Aussie/NZ accent, use it. Our hosts were nothing short of amazing in their warm welcome and genuine interest. I know the other Aussies and Kiwis there this year, Narelle Atkins, Megan Sayer, Kara Isaac and Rel Mollet will agree.

Great advice, Dotti. Now you've been back a month or so, how happy are you with what you achieved at the Conference?

I’m extremely happy and grateful for the opportunities I had at conference. I met with and enjoyed three favourable agent appointments. I also consolidated writing collaborations, met colleagues and made many new friends. I’ve been interviewing fiction authors on my blog for a few years now, and I was thrilled to meet some of them for the first time in Indy. 

Which person made the biggest impression on you?

Beyond the Borders crew enjoying
breakfast & fellowship
That’s a hard one. Only because I was impressed with the generosity of so many. I’ve been blessed by the helping hand of published and pre-published authors. This year, I was invited to dinner with Kaye Dacus, embraced by the girls from the Inkwell Inspirations blog and the girls from Seekerville, and hung out with Jeane and Tyson Wynn of Wynn Wynn Media. Saturday breakfast gathered the Beyond the Borders zone together for lots of international fun. 

But I think the deepest impression has to come from keynote speaker, Robin Jones Gunn. She spoke about the way God shaped her writing career in ways she could not have anticipated, or even wanted… but there was not a dry eye in the house when Robin shared how God revealed Himself to her readers, and how Robin played her part in this. Wow! I was clutching my tissues and pinned to my seat.

I’d heard great reports on Robin's keynotes. I’m looking forward to listening to her sessions on the Conference syllabus.

Finally, what words of encouragement would you have for fellow ACWers about attending future Conferences, recognising the cost involved. The 2014 one being in St Louis, Missouri.

The Cover of the Conference Journal
Depending on what we want, our writing requires different investments of time and money. If you’re keen to fly to the US, this may look unreachable on paper. But if you believe God’s calling you to attend the ACFW Conference next year, continue to pray. And save. The costs are great, but if you attend, I’m guessing your commitment to meeting industry professionals and colleagues is also very high. ACFW offers conference scholarships every year and all members are invited to apply. Booking flights early can save money, and shared accommodation halves rooming fees. And all writing related costs are tax deductible.

Having attended twice now, I’ve seen God use this conference to strengthen my writing, deepen my trust in Him, and sharpen my networking. The first time, I kept to the wall. I watched how others navigated their way around. This year I volunteered on the registration desk and kept time for interview appointments. I hung out in the foyer, and introduced myself to those I once let walk by.

Because it’s a long way from Melbourne to Indianapolis, and I wanted to make sure this little Aussie writer said G’day to as many in the industry as possible. And I can honestly say, the best God moments happened when I pressed in against my desire to fade into the wall, and rolled up my ink stained sleeves.

Well said, Dotti. I loved attending the Conference in 2012 and I hope there is another one in my not to distant future.

Thanks Dotti for sharing your experience with us.

What’s one Writers Conference that you remember with great fondness?

Dorothy Adamek lives in Melbourne with her Beloved and their three teenagers. The winner of the 2013 FHL Touched By Love contest, she is enamoured by all things 19th century, and writes The Heartbeat of Yesteryear, Historical Romance - Aussie style.

Come say G'day at her blog, Ink Dots


  1. Thanks for the insight. As a reader who has also interviewed authors I would love to meet them in person. Meeting a few in May was so amazing. I also like hearing about the conferences. I think from hanging out at seekerville and a few other places I have gotten an insight into conferences and how they would benefit writers (this reader would be awestruck).

    1. Hi Jenny, it's a great place to meet authors and it's always so refreshing to be reminded, as Dotti points out, they are just like us and share many of the fears, frustrations and blessings we do.

  2. An interesting read, Ian and Dotti--thanks so much for this up close and personal insight into attending ACFW Conference. I see lots of comments about it on the ACFW loop but it's good to read an Aussie perspective on it all.

    1. Thanks Jo-Anne. We all bring our own perspectives and it's great how the down under contingent has been so well represented in the past 2 years. Long may it continue.

  3. Ian and Dotti, thanks for your insightful interview :) The writing conference that I remember as having the biggest impact on me was my first US conference - RWAmerica in San Francisco, 2008. 1000+ attendees, a friendly atmosphere, excellent workshops, literacy book signing, Aussie friends who were finalists in the Golden Heart, the first time I met many of my FHL online friends in person, a fabulous time sight seeing in a city I'd always wanted to visit. Lots of great memories :)

  4. Great place to attend a conference, Narelle. I'm looking forward to ACFW visiting Nashville in future years. Fingers crossed.

    1. I'm looking forward to Nashville, too, Ian. Some great locations coming up in the years ahead. Thanks for the interview. :)

    2. Let's hope, Dotti, there are a whole bunch of us from down under in 2016. Was great chatting with you Dotti. Wishing you every success with your writing.

  5. Good questions, Ian. Great answers, Dottie. Thanks for stirring up our hopes and dreams. If God is in us going...nothing is impossible.

    1. Amen to that Rita. Appreciate your kindness.


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