A poster asked the question below on AbsoluteWrite.com.
How is a Christian Writer's conference different from a regular writers conference?
I thought it was a good question so I responded.
Christian Writer's Conferences are usually run about the same as those that don't actually call themselves "Christian" Writer's conferences (where a writer who is a Christian will actually fare better IMO!)
The MAIN distinguishing feature is this; most of the editors, agents and publishers, I dare say nearly 75% of them if not more, are affiliated with CBA/ECPA.
Why should that matter?
Because the Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association are a niche market inside the Christian Publishing Industry as a whole. They have conservative evangelical content guidelines that are difficult to write inside of. Their guidelines are so conservative that the president of the ECPA once stated that some of their own members couldn't comply!
Writers who are Christians and write Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror(yes, this does exist) are often rejected hands down by ALL of the CBA/ECPA affiliated publishers, editors and agents because this type story doesn't fit the niche. Sadly, most never tell you why you're being rejected and seem content to let you think they're not a niche market.
Bascially, just do your homework. If you're going to a conference to pitch to an agent and you can manage to get some CBA/ECPA affiliated publisher to actually tell you what they will and won't accept AND you determine this is the kind of writing you want to do, then go for it! Picking up books written by CBA/ECPA affiliated authors will give you an idea if the publishers you talk to don't.
If you're simply going to glean some writing techniques and what not, you might do well. Just know that if the speaker is a CBA/ECPA affiliated publisher, author or editor the writing tips will be weighted in that direction.
I think it should be standard practice for a Writer's Conference to post information that let's authors know when over 75% of the editors, publishers and agents represented are from a niche market. CBA/ECPA is a very restrictive niche market. Where is the balance?
Where are the editors, publishers and agents from the rest of the Christian Publishing Industry?
The arguement that they might not exist doesn't justify not letting everyone know that the ones at your conference are mainly from a niche market.
Would every romance writer in the world got to a writer's conference put on by Harlequin?
Only if they knew they liked the kind of books this niche market put out.
Everyone knows Harlequin is a niche market. Very, very, very, few know that CBA/ECPA is a niche and even fewer know their guidelines.