Learn from experienced professionals. Renowned Christian authors, editors and publishers will be available.
So, you want to be a writer? Where do you begin? What steps should you take? The Speak Up Conference brings in renowned Christian authors, editors and publishers to help walk participants through the process of preparing a fiction or a nonfiction book proposal for submission beginning with the initial steps, learning to captivate readers with excellent storytelling, and deciding whether self-publishing is an option for you. Learn tips and tools-of-the-trade from experienced professionals.
Participants in the Writers Track will have the opportunity for at least four face-to-face appointments with an editor, agent, established author, or other industry professional for 15 minutes. This time can be used to pitch a project idea or book proposal to a publisher rep or agent, get feedback on a manuscript in progress, brainstorm with an author mentor, or just ask questions. The professionals are experts in their field and they are at the conference because they want to help you.
In addition to the keynote addresses and personal appointments, there are many breakout sessions available:
(Click an arrow to read more about each session)
* Denotes “new” this year.
**Recommended for 1st time Writers’ Track attendees
Learn the crucial skill of pitching your book idea in a few doable steps, and you’ll be miles ahead of the game when it comes to one-sheets, book proposal time, and presenting your idea to agents and editors. You’ll learn how to sell the sizzle, not the steak, and bring the buried gold in your book idea front and center, where agents and editors will be dazzled by it. Pitching pro Lorilee Craker shows you how to pitch confidently and have fun doing it!
Click for more information about your instructor: Lorilee Cracker
There are so many choices out there when it comes to self-publishing, that navigating the intimidating jungle is getting harder and harder. Join Athena Dean as she highlights publishing models to steer clear of when taking the reins on the publishing process. After pioneering the independent publishing movement in the Christian market over the last 30 years, she brings us insider information on the most important questions to ask and special deals to sidestep.
Click to learn more about your instructor: Athena Dean Holtz
A book proposal that catches the attention of an acquiring editor—positive attention—needs more than just the inclusion of the right items. It needs to be based on a unique and winning idea; it needs the right tone; it needs the right personality; and it needs to be the best possible example of your writing ability. Learn how to create a compelling proposal from an editor responsible for discovering and publishing some of the most admired Christian authors writing today.
Click to learn more about your instructor: Cindy Lambert
We all have hard seasons of life that cause us to feel unqualified to minister to anyone, let alone write any word anyone would read. However, do difficult seasons really disqualify us from ministry? Jill Savage believes, if anything, hard seasons qualify us to write. In this workshop you’ll:
- Learn how to pull back without pulling out.
- Explore how to move your eyes from the mountain to the Mountain Mover.
- Identify how to ask for help and receive help in hard seasons.
- Discover how to change your pace and give yourself grace.
- See the power of turning your mess into your message.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Jill Savage
It's old-school thinking to consider only books or magazine articles as outlets for our work as writers. New markets open up every year. We’ll look at opportunities in social media and on the Internet. But not all markets require technical know-how. From opportunities at your local church to other opportunities in your community and beyond, we’ll investigate a wide variety of ways to use your gifts as a writer to connect with readers.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Dave Lambert
There’s a reason even Jesus himself used illustrations to engage his audience—story has the unique power to help a reader engage, understand, and apply new thoughts and ideas. But story is only as effective as it is well done. In this workshop, led by two industry editors who are writers themselves, we’ll explore the basic concepts behind story—arc, narrative voice, etc.—and how to effectively use them in a nonfiction setting.
Karen Porter will review the first 3 pages of your manuscript. Pre-submitted pages will be edited and critiqued in class. Learn the importance of these first pages and how to grab your readers early. Set your book up for success. Non-fiction and Fiction.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Karen Porter
Not sure which publishing route is right for you? Senior Literary Agent Karen Neumair provides a brief overview of three publishing paths to help you identify which one is best for your unique literary aspirations. She then more closely examines the role and responsibilities of an agent to help you understand if what you are writing actually requires one, including suggestions on how to find the right one. (Ideal for authors unsure which route is right for them.)
Click here to learn more about your instructors: Karen Neumair
Your stories can impact the world, one heart at a time!
Join Sandi Banks for this interactive, inspiring, informative workshop. Here you will learn key elements for effectively writing devotions, then getting them into the publishers' hands and the readers’ hearts.
What’s so intriguing and rewarding about devotional writing? It communicates truth, heart-to-heart, and points the reader upward for encouragement and connection with God—all in a five-minute-or-less read.
Sandi defines devotional writing as a "nugget of truth, wrapped in a story, immersed in insight, served with grace." Come discover what that means, and how God can use your gifts and experiences to honor Him and offer hope to a hurting world.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Sandy Banks
Do you have a story to share? Would it make a good memoir? Come learn the do's and don'ts of sharing your story, how to craft a good memoir, and how to get it published.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Cheri Cowell
What I learned from selling 150 books to publishers in 2 years and how it can help you sell yours too!
Why do some books get contracted by publishers and others don’t? Because, not every book, proposal, idea, or platform is equal. This class teaches you the ins and outs of a manuscript’s salability, timing, and marketability and equips you with the understanding of how to create products that are market ready.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Cyle Young
Dissect several best sellers in class and learn what you can do to put your book on the same path. Learn where the pattern of success begins and where it leads.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Karen Porter
As well as options that overlap into both tracks:
Building A Booming Speaking & Writing Ministry
Marketing is KEY to building ANY business, and a speaking and writing ministry is no different. S.H. Britt said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. YOU know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” Indeed, we must let others know what we have to offer. But how can we do this effectively without looking like we are “marketing ourselves?” One of the best ways to organically advertise your ministry is to establish both a speaking and writing platform. This allows your voice to be heard, your face to be recognized, your message to be magnified, and creates a “breadcrumb trail” to your door. This workshop will help you (1) Craft a strong speaking bio that will leave a lasting impression, (2) Identify the most common psychological road blocks hindering the marketing success of any minister, counselor, coach, writer, or speaker, as well as strategies for overcoming these road blocks, and (3) Explore unique marketing strategies familiar only to the most experienced professionals.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Shannon Ethridge
Focusing on Psalm 91 and Ephesians 6, this workshop will provide practical tools for fighting the good fight against the enemy as we seek to live out the calling God has placed on our lives as writers and speakers. The enemy is always about defeating and discouraging us, especially in the areas of our calling and gifting. Judy Dunagan will share powerful biblical truths about our freedom and victory in Christ. Part of Judy’s journey to becoming an acquiring editor at Moody Publishers was through working with her father, Mark Bubeck, as an editor for his classic books on warfare and prayer. She will share some of that poignant story in her workshop.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Judy Dunagan
What is the theme of your message? How can you make that visible to your audience and readers so that the takeaway is clear? Whether you are preparing a 3-part retreat speaking series or an eight-chapter non-fiction book proposal, there are ways to tie your teaching points together to make an appealing package. Let go of random words of wisdom. Let’s brainstorm and offer something specific to our audiences. Bring your current work-in-progress so we can help create some thematic threads.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Lucinda Secrest McDowell
The Art and Importance of Self-Care
As we serve the Lord and others it can be a true challenge to do those very things that will enable us to take care of ourselves. And yet, without the freedom, tools and intentionality to do so we can hinder our stamina and wellbeing, preventing us from being as effective as we would like to be in all we are called to.
In this workshop Tanya will teach on four foundational aspects of self-care, equipping attendees to walk away with tangible tools to facilitate the strong and healthy mindset that is necessary to continue to be the Rockstar for Jesus you already are!
Balance ~ Keeping your ducks in a row and your monkeys in the circus.
Boundaries~ Just say no, in a sweet Jesus kind of way.
Behaviors ~ When being bossy is okay.
Beliefs ~ Self care isn’t selfish!
Click to learn more about your instructor: Tanya Glanzman
As writers and speakers, we are obligated to be self-promoting. Yet, the mere notion strikes most of us with insecurity and uncertainty. Isn't self-promotion contrary to the Christian character we all strive for? We will discuss the responsibility we have to boldly step into our calling. We need to understand that to shine the light of Christ requires promotion — and obedience. When we shy away from promotion, we are actually hiding our light under a bushel.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Suzanne Kuhn
Speakers and writers need an intentional prayer plan to help them journey through obstacles, opportunities, transitions, discouragement, warfare and success. Whether you’re new in your writing journey, a seasoned speaker but stuck, or somewhere in between, you can move forward to reach your God given potential as a speaker/writer when you make prayer your highest priority.
In this “hands on” workshop you will learn how to:
- recognize your greatest need as a speaker/writer, assess your prayer pulse and enemy attacks.
- Strategize a prayer plan for a reason, season, event or project
- Mobilize a PIT Team or help them become more strategic to cover you now.
You’ll leave this workshop prayed up and energized to press on with power.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Kathe Wunnenberg
Logos Bible Software Training
Communication that produces change happens when we apply the truth of God's word to people's lives. Today in ministry, we must be prepared to share the truth of Scripture to a culture that has gone digital. This interactive workshop will demonstrate the use of Logos Bible Software for effective speaking preparation, writing research, and personal Bible study. What normally takes five to 10 hours of flipping through paper books for speaking prep and Bible study can be done in seconds - and the depth of study is unparalleled! Logos 8 gives you access to your entire biblical library wherever you are because it is compatible with Mac®, PC, iPad®, iPhone® and Android™ - this ease of use and power of Logos will be clearly taught and demonstrated.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Scott Lindsay
Not sure where to start or how to build momentum with blogging? Blogging is still a great corner- stone for your writing platform. We’ll explore how you can develop, grow, and integrate with social media. Additionally, we’ll talk about the why’s and how’s of blogging covering email lists, opt-ins, SEO and other tips to take your efforts to the next level helping you build your platform.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Susan Call
Social media offers more opportunities to spread the light of Jesus than ever before--but it also presents new and unique challenges. We set out with a passion to serve others, share truth, and give of ourselves. Yet our good intentions are easily eclipsed by desires to promote ourselves, receive affirmation, and gain recognition.
Is there a way to gather followers and still follow Jesus? Is there a way to both take up our cross and build up our stats? Shannon Popkin believes there is. Come get guidance on these five questions, every speaker and writer must ask.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Shannon Popkin
Understand why only 12%-16% of your friends or followers see your Facebook or Twitter posts, and learn how to improve the chances they will be seen. Discover the secrets of Edgerank, Facebook’s ever-changing formula, and learn how you can maximize your social presence. Learn the secrets to post frequency and utilize a top social marketing philosophy to create ancillary accounts and pages to drive traffic, increase your followers and likes, and grow your platform.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Cyle Young
Healthy Boundaries for the Writer and Speaker—Putting yourself in the public arena through speaking, writing, or social media creates a new dynamic of vulnerability and privacy for you and your family. In this workshop, speaker, author, counselor, and healthy boundaries trainer Brenda L. Yoder provides practical tools for creating healthy boundaries as a professional in the public eye while still building relationships with your audience and followers.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Brenda Yoder
Ever wish you could really accomplish something BIG in your family, your business, or ministry? In this workshop you will be introduced to a tried and true plan for prayerfully setting goals, giving them to God, and watching Him do the remarkable through you! It will teach you to look at the “Big Picture” and to do long range planning—one purposeful step at a time.
A separate evaluation guide will be available for ministry leaders to help you evaluate specific areas in your ministry that may need to be targeted for improvement.
Reach HIGH! We have a big God, and He wants to be a part of your plans.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Jennie Afman Dimkoff
This is a talk on understanding true identity and significance in Christ. We're not significant or important because of what we do. We're important because of who we are and we bring that import to everything we do. This helps writers and speakers focus less on sales and numbers, and more on walking with God, letting Him develop our character, and enjoying being His kids!
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Bruce Martin
With 175 million users, Pinterest is one of the largest online platforms. 87% of its users purchase products after searching the site*, but many authors and speakers have struggled to leverage it to its full potential.
This workshop will equip you with tools to not only build a consistent presence on Pinterest, but to generate and drive more traffic to your website…and ultimately your books and speaking ministry. You’ll learn the following:
- Elements you need on your website to best leverage the power of Pinterest
- How to structure your Pinterest boards to communicate your message in a consistent and “sticky” way
- Components of an effective Pin and how to create them
- Weekly practices and Pinning strategies to build viewership and followers
*Note: While anyone can attend this workshop, those who already have a website and basic knowledge of Pinterest will benefit the most.
Click here to learn more about your instructors: Sarah Forgrave
With ministries like MOPS, Proverbs 31, and Catalyst jumping on the podcast bandwagon, it is clear that podcasting is a communication method that is here to stay. Podcasts are an incredible way to deliver content to your audience and connect with them in a very personal way at a time that is most convenient for them, but the setup processing and beginning stages can be daunting.
This practical workshop will give you all the tool you need to choose the right equipment on a shoestring budget, determine your hosting platform, get listed on ITunes, all the way to creating content that moves people and batching work. Allow Lee Nienhuis, host of the wildly popular, Moms in Prayer Podcast help you decide if a podcast is the right step for connecting with your audience!
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Lee Nienhuis
“Eternal urgency marks our message.”- David Platt
Why do we write or speak? Does the message we share center around ourselves or The Gospel? As Christian writers and speakers, our greatest desire should be to point people to the truth everlasting, and that is Jesus. How can we effectively communicate The Gospel and share the way of eternal life in our work? In this workshop, we will define The Gospel, discuss evangelism, and explore practical ways to bring The Gospel to your audience.
- The Gospel defined is the good news of freedom, given through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Ephesians 2: 8-9
- Evangelism defined is the proclamation of The Gospel, in the power of The Holy Spirit, with the aim of persuading people to repent and believe in Jesus.
- Changing our focus from only communicating our story, which we indeed should tell, to pointing to THE story- The saving work of Jesus and God who gives it to us freely.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Megan Brown
Designing a website can be an intimidating task, especially if you are “non-techie.” Speaker and author Cindy Bultema will share tips and strategies for you to create a professional online home which also serves as an effective ministry tool. Whether you are computer literate or a newbie, this workshop is for you! Together, we’ll:
- Generate a list of “must haves” for your website, including testimonials, video samples, printable one sheets, and helpful ways to connect through social media.
- Create an engaging website blueprint emphasizing your personality, passions, experiences and ministry products.
- Discuss practical ways to effectively increase your online presence.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Cindy Bultema
How to Run the Race Even When You Feel Like an Unqualified Runner
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us that since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race with edurace that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author, and perfector of our faith. It can be tempting to think of ministry as a race that we need to run FAST and furious. This can lead to quick burnout, competition with others in ministry, or injury.
This workshop will help participants see ministry as marathon versus a sprint, teaching them to:
- Recognize what the object of our ministry race really is—hearing Jesus say at the finished line, “ Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
- See how comparison to others running the race can prevent us from running our own race well. Learn how to encourage those in the ministry with us, while running the pace God has set for us not them
- Learn how to recognize burnout and prevent soul injury from running to fast or to far without proper rest and training.
Click here to learn more about your instructor: Jenn Hand
Meet the Publishers
This list will continue to be updated as we get closer to conference time. Check back for the updated list of publishers.
Why should someone self-publish?
You’re probably aware that there are fewer and fewer publishers contracting fewer and fewer titles by fewer and fewer authors. (Nearly 99 percent of submitted manuscripts are turned down by royalty publishers.) But if you have a message or a story you feel compelled to publish, self-publishing is a popular—and now, economical— way to do just that.
Can self-publishing be successful?
Successfully self-published books include The Living Bible, T. D. Jakes Woman Thou Art Loosed, and Joseph Girzone’s Joshua, The Christmas Box and, of course, Paul Williams’ The Shack.
Cindy Lambert, Executive Editor-at-Large
Baker Publishing Group publishes high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers. Baker is a leading Christian publisher in fiction, non-fiction, and academic books.
Cindy Lambert is looking for nonfiction books of any genre for Revell that will inspire and equip readers offering hope and help for daily life and for Baker Books that will build up the body of Christ through messages that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging.
Visit Baker Publishing Group
A Traditional Publishing Company
Bold Vision Books is an independent Christian publisher looking for non-fiction and fiction with a compelling Christian message. Bold Vision offers high quality personal publishing & distribution through the nation’s best distribution companies. Bold Vision Books has two imprints: Nuts ‘n Bolts and Optasia Books.
Other services offered through our coaching company, kae Creative Solutions, we also offer content analysis, book development, editing, and ghost writing. We can help you design a powerful marketing plan, write your tag line, build your brand, produce promotional items, and create your pitch.
Meaghan Minkus, Editorial Assistant
Discovery House Publishers publishes books that feed the soul with the Word of God, fostering growth and godliness in the lives of God’s people. We publish books of general interest to evangelical Christian lay readers that are written at a junior high/high school reading level. Our list includes devotional books, Bible study materials and reference books, books about the spiritual life, commentaries, personal growth books, and books that address contemporary issues that believers face. We do not publish children’s books, curriculum, plays, skits, poetry, sermons, short stories, cartoons, cookbooks, autobiographies, dissertations, games, novels, or textbooks. We only use internal resources for greeting cards. We are interested in fresh, engaging, narrative non-fiction in all that we publish.
Cheri Cowell, Owner & Publisher
Looking for a publishing option that blends the creative control of self-publishing with a focus on quality from seasoned professionals or simply not sure how to navigate self-publishing? Partnership Publishing is the answer! Partnership Publishing is a fairly new model combining the positives from the pay-to-publish approach, such as greater author control, keeping 100% of your profits, and shorter production time, along with the expertise of seasoned professionals to guide you through the publishing process.
Kregel Publications acquires broadly in nonfiction and fiction. Especially interested in nonfiction titles related to the #churchtoo discussion, adults with special needs, social justice, and substance abuse. Always looking for excellent historical romance, contemporary suspense, historical fiction, and women’s fiction with biblical grounding. Please no poetry or scripts. One sheets, proposals, and synopses are helpful but not necessary. First-time authors welcome.
Judy Dunagan, Acquisitions Editor
The vision of Moody Publishers is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and a biblical worldview. Our mission is to educate and edify the Christian and to evangelize the non-Christian. Judy oversees the women’s line of books at Moody. She is looking to acquire more books and Bible studies that focus on discipling women and inspiring them to go deeper in their walk with Him. She’d love to see proposals with themes related to growing a deep prayer life and a greater love for the Word, a passion for revolutionary revival, and God redemption stories. Her target reader is typically between the ages of 30-55, but she also loves seeing proposals geared to millennials. Though Moody is still publishing some fiction, books on marriage and parenting are always welcomed.
Athena Dean Holtz, Publisher & Co-Founder
Bringing 30 years of industry expertise to an author-centric publishing model, Redemption Press is the “best of both worlds.” All the benefits of self-publishing, along with the support and representation of a traditional publisher. One thing I know. If you’re going to self-publish, the last thing you want to do is LOOK like you did it yourself. Your book should look and read at the same level of excellence as the largest traditional publishers, and available in all the same channels. We take the time to develop custom publishing and promotion strategies specifically for you and your message. No one size fits all at Redemption Press. We are a full service, turn key, custom publishing option providing as much or as little support as you need.
I’d love to meet with you to see if we’re a good fit for each other!
Whether publishing fiction, Christian living, self-help, marriage, family, or youth books, each Revell publication reflects relevance, integrity, and excellence.
Kelsey Bowen, Acquisitions Editor
For the optimal 15-minute appointment experience, a completed book proposal and a 30-second elevator pitch to kickstart our conversation is your best bet. Let me know right away what the hook of your book idea is and who your target audience is, and let’s explore from there. I’m currently looking for adult fiction for Revell and nonfiction in the family/relationships category, humor category, and self-help/personal growth category. Please note that Revell takes very little in the autobio/memoir category and no children’s books at this time.
Cindy Lambert - Executive Editor-at-Large
Cindy Lambert is looking for nonfiction books of any genre for Revell that will inspire and equip readers offering hope and help for daily life, and for Baker Books that will build up the body of Christ through messages that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging. Cindy will also critique proposals and suggest ways to strengthen them.
Visit Revell Website
Meet the Agents
Karen Neumair, Senior Literary Agent
Karen is currently acquiring nonfiction only, with specific interest in Christian living and spiritual growth, as well as women’s/family and current issues. Her teammates are acquiring children’s in addition to nonfiction, but unfortunately, no fiction at this time.
Visit Credo Communication
Cyle Young, Agent
What I’m looking for in an appointment?
Be yourself. I DON’T want you to pitch me your book. I want to see your writing. I want to get to know your words, and if I fall in love with your writing… we’ll, that’s a really good thing! The majority of my clients are people who I met at writing conferences… so relax. We can have a normal conversation, because in truth I’m an author just like you. I know the frustration, fears, and anxieties all too well. I will look at any genre in fiction or non-fiction from children’s picture books to adult novels for either the Christian or General markets.
Between our four agents, WordServe Literary offers more than 50 years of experience in all aspects of helping authors get published with traditional publishers. At her appointments, Keely Boeving is looking for smart, well-crafted nonfiction in the areas of Christian Living, spiritual transformation, devotion and worship, and women’s topics including motherhood, relationships and marriage, work-life balance, and calling. She also has an interest in memoir, social justice, and religious studies; as well as projects from diverse and under-represented voices. For more information on her fellow agents at WordServe, please visit WordServe Literacy