ICRS…. Hmm? What is that, exactly? Retail, my friends. More specifically the International Christian Retail Show.
It makes sense for those of you who are published writers, or perhaps an author up for a Christy Award to make attending ICRS a priority.
Being a newbie, and a relative nobody in the book biz, you might be wondering why I went. My lovely unpublished manuscripts were not on display, I most certainly wasn't up for any kind of prestigious award, and I often got these double takes at my ID badge, as if people were wondering… “Should I know who you are?”
Nope, not yet folks, but stay tuned. :)
All that said, my experience was amazing and I thought I’d share 7 reasons why I think going to these shows is an excellent use of your time and finances.
1. Get the 411. Whether we are published or not, we (us writers) are in the book business. There is so much to explore. And what better place to do just that, than in the Booksellers Marketplace!
2. Swag! As in FREE books! How can you go wrong there!
3. Celebrity sightings. Not only do you get to geek out (love you Katie Ganshert) when you meet a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, you can get an autographed copy of their book. Did I mention, for free? Let's face it, each of us are inspired by other great writers. It's always an honor to get to tell them how much their stories have blessed us.
True story: I was lucky enough to walk the floor with Susan May Warren, one of my absolute favorite authors and a dear friend. Talk about a backstage pass! We ended up chatting with this well known screen writer and his buddy in the MOVIE biz! These are great connections to make. And yet, not the kind of people you bump into at a writers conference. (But don't skip the conference either! Oh, shoot, now I'll need to do another post. 10 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Writers Conference. Coming soon!)
5. Face time. What better way to remind those wonderful editors that you are still breathing, and yes, still checking your inbox regularly than to see them in person. Introduce yourself. Put a face with a name. Better yet to put a personality behind that name and become someone they can recall, or even see themselves working with. (Manners and appropriate conduct are a given.)
6. Fellowship. One of my favorite things about ACFW is that I get to meet up with all my amazing writer friends and spend some time with people who actually understand my crazy writer brain. ICRS is like adding another playdate. We even had a prayer room this year, led by the fabulous Rachel Hauck, myself, and an awesome local worship leader and close friend, Alyssa Schweich.
Did I mention that agents tend to frequent these types of shows? It’s always nice to get to have a coffee with your agent and catch up in person. It was one of my favorite things about ICRS this year. And I even got a highly coveted kilt shot to treasure forever. :)
7. Dressed and pressed in your Christy's best. It’s like the Oscars of Christian Fiction. Yes, I suppose when I walked in and saw all the tables were reserved for specific publishing houses (all of which I have no affiliation) I may have, for a few panicked moments, felt like a the new kid cruising the lunch room for a spot for a stray. But what an amazing experience to get to see a heavy hitter in the industry, Lee Hough, given the Lifetime Achievement Award. Get to hear my agent give a beautiful and charming keynote address about the power of story. Get to see my friends and their outstanding books receive recognition. I loved every minute of it!
There is an old saying, something like… Surround yourself with Greatness to achieve Greatness.
Go to ICRS. Put the cart before the horse and map out the steps ahead on your journey to publication, and bestseller lists, and awards. Go. See. Dream. You won’t regret it!
Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little mischief makers and would challenge anyone to a cutest family contest. Represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.