The 2023 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference took place in St. Louis from August 24 – 27, attracting more than 350 authors, agents, publishers, and aspiring writers who participated in workshops, paneled discussions, and book signings.
Workshops were led by novelist Angela Hunt, Tammy Karasek, and author DiAnn Mills, and discussion topics included "Why You're Getting Rejected" and more. Publisher spotlight sessions featured editors and other staff from Tyndale, Barbour, HarperCollins Christian, Revell, Kregel, and others. Two panels featured discussions among Kristy Cambron, Linda Glaz, Tamela Hancock Murray, Ali Herring, Steve Laube, Donald Maass, and Barb Roose— each literary agents in the Christian fiction space.
The event also included Storyfest, an on-site bookstore where readers and authors meet and share meals and games. Winners of ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished Christian fiction writers as well as Carol Award winners were announced during the culminating event—the ACFW Awards Gala. Winning books include Turn to Me by Becky Wade (Bethany House) in the Romance category, Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson Fiction) in the mystery/suspense/thriller category, and The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold (Revell), who took home the debut author award.
Industry award winners included Steve Laube who was named Agent of the Year, while author/writing mentor James Scott Bell received the 2023 ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award. For a complete list of the winners, click here.
Stephanie Broene, acquisitions director, fiction, Tyndale House, says the conference is the highlight of the year. “It’s a great chance to gather with some of our authors, meet with agents, and visit with other published and aspiring authors,” she tells PW. “I love the camaraderie and encouragement that I see among the attendees, because publishing can be a tough and discouraging business.”
Colleen Rhoads Coble, a bestselling novelist and ACFW’s executive board CEO, commented, “Publishing is hard, even after you get that first contract. It's such a blessing to be around authors who understand and empathize with the struggle and can brainstorm ways to support and encourage one another. Networking is all important at any stage in a publishing career and is even more crucial after publication.”
And attendee Bethany 'Stigall' Martin, bookseller at Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, Kan., says, “It was such a gift to be surrounded by people who love stories as much as I do. To meet the authors and hear their heart behind what they do— not just to entertain, but to point their readers to Jesus—makes reading their books even more special.”
Additional photos from the event are included here.