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  • Writer's pictureMegan DiMaria

Pros and cons of the virtual ACFW conference AND book suggestions

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Last week, I was supposed to be in St. Louis attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) annual conference. I still attended, though. Virtually.

I was interested to see how it would work out. I've attended webinars online, but not an entire conference—two days packed with workshops, sessions, as well as editor and agent appointments.

Below is one of the workshops I attended, The Essentials of Editing taught by Tessa Afshar (she's highlighted with the yellow box). It was fabulous!

I think the sessions all went well, once everyone on the Zoom call realized they needed to mute themselves. There were about 150+ people in the sessions.

The first and last few moments of each session were the only opportunity to shout out hello and goodbye to friends. Bittersweet. It's so much better in person when you get to sit and chat with old friends and make new ones.

Some online conference pluses:

  • During some of the sessions, the teachers shared their screen. That worked well because it was so easy to see the info on your computer. Also, there wasn't any tall person in front of you obstructing the view.

  • You could adjust the volume, so you didn't miss a word.

  • There were no lines for the restrooms.

  • Some of the instructors shared PDF files of their content, which were easy to download because the link was in the chat bar.

  • If there wasn't a handout, and you wanted a reminder of the lesson, you could do a screenshot of the info presented.

  • You could use the Zoom chat feature during sessions to talk with other attendees and share tips and info.

  • The people running the ACFW conference were amazing. It there were any issues, they were addressed immediately and with good results.

  • Attendees will receive links to recordings of all the sessions, at no additional cost. That means the sessions you missed because of scheduling conflicts are still available.

  • You don't have to deal with the stress and expense of travel.

Some online conference negatives:

  • You weren't able to visit with friends and make new friends.

  • You weren't able to visit in person with your agent or editors.

  • The highlight of the conference, the gala, was nonexistent. The winners of the awards were announced in a Zoom session, so the info was there, just not the fun of a live event.

  • One of my appointments was a bit difficult because the lady at the other end had some internet issues, and she froze up. It was a bit jarring, but we seemed to make do.

  • Depending on where you live, you might have to get up early or stay up late to participate in live sessions. There were some international attendees.

My head is full of ideas, just like with the in-person conferences I've attended. The cost was significantly less than usual because it was virtual, and I really got my money's worth.

The gala awards banquet was also a victim of 2020, but the awards were announced in a Zoom call. The Carol Awards are ACFW’s recognition for the best Christian fiction published in the previous calendar year. Congratulations to this year's winners! If you're looking for a good Christian book to reach check out this year's winning novels.

Write on, friends. Hopefully, we'll be in person in New Orleans for next year's ACFW conference.


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