Friday, July 5, 2013

ICRS Through the Eyes of a Newbie

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 My lovely unpublished manuscripts were not on display, I most certainly wasn't up for any kind of prestigious award, and I often got these double takes at my ID badge, as if people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.

4. Elbow rubbing. Since there are so many authors floating around you are bound to bump in to some you know or just admire. And since the atmosphere is so laid back, even more so I thought than conferences when it can feel pretty awkward or intimidating to walk up and interrupt an author, it is surprisingly easy to actually TALK with people at ICRS.

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.


Jill Weatherholt said...

"Not yet, but stay tuned"~ I love that, Amy! Thanks for sharing your reasons for attending ICRS along with the terrific photos! And free books...sign me up!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I love a "behind the scenes" look. And may I just say, you looked fabulous! Wowsers!

My dad used to set up booths for Zondervan...or was it Word Publishing...I can't the CBA Conventions back in the 1970's. I remember we went to one in New York City and I got to meet Joni Eareckson Tada and she drew me a picture! Way cool. I'm sure I would have a totally different perspective at this time of my life.

Thanks for a glimpse into your fun!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I was totally floored by the show! And yes, authors, awards, free books? No brainer :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Thanks Sher! It's nice to have an occasion to get all dressed up! What a neat story!! I know I now have a bunch of those tucked away for years to come.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Loved this, Amy! What an opportunity for you. And I'm choosing NOT to be envious of those free books you brought home! ;o)

I loved reading your experiences and impressions of your first (and I'm certain not last) ICRS. Do you mind me asking why you got to go? I love your pics of your time there! I think I'd still be nervous!

Beth K. Vogt said...

I walked the floors as a newbie back when it wasn't called ICRS and when I was writing non-fiction.
I didn't attend the Christy Awards ... but I still had a lot of wide-eyed fun. I agree with you 100%, Amy -- ICRS is loads of fun at any time!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jeanne- good question! First off, ICRS was in my hometown this year. But I likely wouldn't have known much about it if Rachel Hauck hadn't called and asked me to help set up an open worship prayer room. Along with a friend, we rallied some local worship leaders and tracked down equipment, and sang two hour sets ourselves. :) so I lucked our with a guest pass. and then since my agent was doing the keynote, and a ticket to the Christys was attainable, I went, because well, why not? Sooo glad I did!

Rachel Hauck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Beth-now you've got me wondering what it was called back then. :) wish I would have seen you there, but can't wait to squeeze you at ACFW!

Casey said...

Someday I WILL go to ICRS! But I think as a self proclaimed novel junkie, I think I might go into a book type coma to be surrounded by all those authors and books. ;-)

Loved all the pictures! Someday...someday... :)

Lisa Jordan said...

Surround yourself with Greatness to achieve Greatness.

Love this quote, Amy! So true! I'd love to go to ICRS someday. I'm glad you had a memorable time. Looking forward to seeing your books on display at ICRS!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Thanks for explaining, Amy. How fun for you!!!!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Casey & Lisa- I'm hoping I get the opportunity to keep going. And I'm definitely hoping we all bump into each other at our own book signings! ;)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for the peek behind the scenes, Amy! What a great experience for you!


Alaina Winch said...

So jealous you got to meet Karen Kingsbury, too. I've read nearly 40 of her books and love her Baxter family stories. Andrew got me two signed books from her (one a children's book), and I was so excited! Such an awesome experience, I'm sure.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Thanks Sue!

And Alaina-I felt a bit like a poser with Karen. My friend was a BIG fan, but I've never actually read one of her books. That is going to change now that I got one though :) She was lovely, and very down to earth. That's always nice to see. Nice to meet the other half of the Winch family!