Category Archives: get published

RMFW Conference News – Save $, Get Published, Learn Craft, Marketing and more

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Register before July 31 and save $50!

Hurry, save $50! Registration is open for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2019 Colorado Gold Conference. It will be held this year at the Renaissance Stapleton Hotel in Denver at 3801 Quebec Street. The conference features New York Times best-selling authors, acquiring agents and editors, and a wealth of intensive craft and marketing classes and workshops.  If you haven’t yet registered, get to it—you’ll be so glad you did! One reason: the conference price goes up by $50 on July 31. Beat that date and save.

You can browse the speakers and workshops here.

If you’re already registered, welcome! This year’s conference has a powerful lineup of literary agents and editors who are actively acquiring all genres of commercial fiction. It will be hard to choose from the lively variety of workshops, master classes and services this year! Read on so you can get the most from the conference, whether this is your first conference or the next of many.

Conquer that “Lost-in-the-Crowd” feeling

This year’s conference is chock-full of new features. The number of master classes has increased, and the workshops offer an impressive array of craft and marketing topics. As the conference has expanded its offerings, it can be a lot to absorb.

Whether you’re a newbie this year or, like me, have attended two decades of conferences, there’s an easy way to stay on top of things. Here are two opportunities for you to get your bearings and prepare for a stress-free conference that delivers just what you need/want to get out of it.

Kevin Wolf’s First-Timer’s Meeting

If you’re a first-timer, let me congratulate you! You’re in for a great time! I’ll never forget the excitement and sweet rush of information and help I received at my first conference. If you have identified yourself as a first timer, you may have received or will soon receive a welcome letter from Kevin inviting you to this meeting. I thought I’d add it here, too, as a reminder to take full advantage of it.  Here you’ll meet the RMFW president and conference chairs. You’ll also get a wealth of information you’ll want to know. How to find your way around. Book sales. Workshops. Where and when to purchase recordings of the workshops you attended or couldn’t attend due to your schedule. (My tip: order Sunday morning to avoid the delay of having them shipped.)

This is your chance to dispel any new-experience jitters and sail through your conference schedule with confidence and new friends.

Join the fun on Friday at noon in the Vail meeting room, Atrium level.

Terri Benson’s Conference Survival Secrets

Here you’ll learn about the new programs and services being offered: Master classes. Schedule changes. Good places to meet people. Special invitations for solo diners at the Friday dinner. Last-minute schedule changes. Terri will be ready to answer all your questions about editor/agent protocol, how to prep for appointments, how to pace yourself—all to help make your conference experience all it can be. Be there Friday at 1 p.m. in the Vail room, Atrium level.

ASK ME volunteers will wear gold armbands and answer your questions during conference. Yes, I’m one of them!

Gold armbands and the “Ask Me” Crew

 Should you find yourself lost or in need of information, look for RMFW members wearing gold armbands. It’s not a fashion statement—the bands identify friendly volunteers who will help you find your way around, more easily network and make new friends, and take advantage of all that this nationally respected conference has to offer.

Feel free to ask them questions: Where are the editor/agent meetings held? What time does the book sale begin? Where is the book store? Where do I go to buy an extra meal ticket for the Saturday dinner? Where can I grab a sandwich?

They’re called the ASK ME crew, and you can meet them at Kevin Wolf’s 12:00 noon Friday meeting for first-time attendees and at Terri Benson’s Conference Survival Secrets one o’clock Friday session. Both of these sessions are in the Vail meeting room, Atrium level. That way, you’ll be able to recognize them as they circulate during the workshops.

Terri Benson will present a workshop for both new and experienced conference attendees. It’s called Conference Survival Secrets, and you’ll have a chance to meet some ASK ME volunteers there, as well.

The ASK ME crew will circulate throughout the conference.

Get ready to place your bid in the Silent Auction!

 Intake volunteers have received an exciting variety of donated items. All Silent Auction proceeds benefit the 2020 Colorado Gold Scholarship Fund. If you wish to bid on an item, locate the bid sheet for that item. The auction display area will be across from the conference registration desk, near the escalators. Then check back from time to time to see if you need to raise your bid. Bidding closes at the start of the Saturday evening banquet. Auction winners will be announced prior to the keynote address, and must claim their items that evening.

This year’s items include such treasures as:

  • Critique of your query or manuscript pages from one of five agents/editors
  • Writer’s goodie bags
  • Gift Baskets in themes for Gardening, Wine and Books, Tea/Relaxation, Spices, and More!
  • Auction items continue to arrive, so be sure to check the display area for updates.

Coming in my August blog…more Conference 411! Info on the new conference app, tips and more.

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Filed under get published, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, self publishing novels, Social Media Marketing, success techniques, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, Writing Conferences

Power-charge your book blurb with hooks

Now that you’ve completed your novel, your next big challenge is to write a good blurb that condenses your 100,000-word novel into a short, captivating sentence worthy of the so-called “elevator pitch.”

I, too, cringe from writing blurbs. I’ve even given workshops on blurbs. I recognize great ones when I see them, and can de-construct them to reveal their strengths. I can write blurbs for other people. Yet sitting down to write my own? Blek.

For many years, I used the journalistic approach to writing my blurb. I thought of it as a mini-synopsis. Now, though, I’ve grown to think of the blurb more as a fishing expedition. Fish don’t always want the same things, and all fish don’t respond to the same temptations. Sometimes they want a sparkling lure, other times they’ll bite some drab, rubbery thingy. Sometimes its best to adjust your bobber so the hook sinks deeper in the water, other times more shallow. Whatever the variation, though, readers (and agents and editors) need to be hooked.

What are the currently hot tropes/hooks? The editors and agents are always quick to point out that they only know what they used to be—what they were last week, last month. They are ever-changing, fickle as the market.

There are some trusty tropes that seem to live forever, though. Cinderella. Survival. Strong female lead. Fish out of water. Returning home. Family betrayal. Change of fortunes.

What makes your story unique? I think this question is what paralyzes writers. Their answer (like ours) is probably … everything! “It’s my story,” we may say. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and there are many reasons why it’s unique.”  So we expound and expand.

If we stay with the fishing analogy, this would be like spilling a dump truck of junk into the water, gooey stuff that contains an odd mixture of many, many ingredients. Some of it may be really good, but it’s been amalgamated into an incomprehensible sludge.

Setting aside all the wonderfulness of your story, what sets your protagonist apart? Perhaps your response is: My novel has a kick-ass heroine. Okay, but how can you make that more interesting, and specific to your novel? Consider these from the archives:

Tough widow Norma Rae has a lot on her hands, working to the bone at a textile mill–and fighting to unionize her hazardous workplace.

Feisty young mother fights for justice any way she knows how. She takes on a powerful utility company and won’t take no for an answer. (Erin Brokovich)

 It is one woman’s fearless quest, criss-crossing the globe in an amazing attempt to save the world.  (Lara Croft, Tomb Raider)

 Gutsy Lieutenant O’Neil dares to earn a place with the elite Navy SEALS.  (G.I. Jane)

 Going beyond the cliché of something like “kick-ass heroine,” what dominant trait does your female protagonist possess? In what unique/interesting ways does she demonstrate that?

Be it kick-ass heroines, secret codes, ghosts, secrets, or intergalactic wars, remember to craft your hook as well as you crafted your book–and use tantalizing bait.

So here’s your chance to practice before you meet that editor or write that headline  … what’s your blurb? Hook me!

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Filed under "Janet Lane", finding you book's hook, get published, self publishing novels, success techniques, summarizing your novel, The Writing Life

1, 2, 3: How to reach your goals

Wannabe goals. We all made them for the new year, right? Unbelievably, we’re now knocking on the door to June.

Often our goals are unspoken but sincere, something we know we need to accomplish to advance our writing. They inspire us for a moment then, in the face of our busy lives, we allow them to fade.

Write my synopsis. Develop my marketing plan. Finish my outline. Finish/Revise my book. Query my top five publishers. Learn how to blog. Get reviews. (Fill in your goals here.)

You know you need to do it. You keep thinking you will. But you don’t.

Read this. Follow the steps, and you’ll do it.

It starts with number one. Three Dog Night sang, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” When it comes to goals, I consider it the most difficult number.

If you’re having trouble reaching your goals, try starting with number one. It will help you progress to number two. If you’re not prepared to tackle number one, don’t read this blog. This information is only for those who are tired of letting important goals evaporate in the face of procrastination, laziness or fear.

Still reading? Okay, here’s the not-so-secret formula.

NUMBER ONE. Tell someone important. Your critique group. Your most stalwart friend who supports your dreams. “I am going to (specific goal) this (week/month/summer).

It must be specific. Not, “I’m going to write more,” but “I am going to write to The End by August.” Not, “I’m going to market more,” or “I am going to develop a marketing plan,” but rather, “I’m going to write a marketing plan by August.”

Something good happens when you commit to another person or group. The goal becomes real. Increase your odds of success further by insisting that your friend follows up weekly to ask about your progress.

NUMBER TWO. Generate ideas. Browse the Internet, searching for topics such as “How To (Goal)” and “Top 10 Ways to (Goal).” Then create a mind map, incorporating what you’ve learned from your initial research.

You complete number two to better achieve your number three goal.

NUMBER THREE. Brainstorm with someone with RMFW, or a professional organization within your field, who has accomplished this goal. (Having completed number two, you will have learned enough to ask good questions and you will demonstrate to your expert RMFW or fellow associate that you’ve given this some thought, and have taken those first steps already. Show you’re committed to learning, and others will be more willing to help you.)

Seek out friends and/or associates  have become known for their expertise in, for example, writing, editing, public speaking, workshops, book tours, blogs, reviews, podcasts—the list is extensive. Connect with them through your organization’s on-line loop, monthly newsletter and/or programs, and special events such as an annual conference. Be bold and ask for help, and you’ll appreciate the power and inspiration of having friends to cheer you on.

Remember that this is brainstorming, not mentoring, which represents an extensive commitment that may scare off your targeted expert. Make it clear you’re only looking for suggestions and resources that you will pursue to complete your own plan of action.

NUMBER FOUR. By now, you will have gathered a daunting amount of information and options to consider. Sort by level of difficulty, easiest to most challenging. If your goal includes some area of marketing, sort by affordability. Sort also by effectiveness, based on what you learned in steps three and four.

NUMBER FIVE. Create your action list. Based on the completion date you initially told your critique group or stalwart supporter, put dates on this action list that will reasonably bring you to the finish line.

Make adjustments, if needed. Share your list, and if you keep a hard copy or digital planning calendar, insert those dates with a big star, color code—whatever triggers you to remember the importance of your intermediate goals.

It’s a simple concept, proven over time and as reliable as gravity. It’s also proven over time that you must take step one first.

Go for it! And come back and share your success story with me.  🙂

 

 

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4 Ways to Boost Happiness–and your goals

Are you happy? How do you feel right now? Anxious, worried? If you’re feeling less than stellar, read on for tips on 4 ways to boost happiness and regain the joy in what we do, be it writing, planning, creating or producing. We can boost happiness by establishing a few simple daily habits–very important, for we can think best when we’re happy.

Get Stay Happy Feb 2016 copy

Because we naturally store negative events in a deeper, more permanent way than positive experiences, there is a dismaying propensity to embed the negative ones. We can overcome that by investing extra effort to focus on our good experiences.

Shawn Achor, head of Goodthink and author of The Happiness Advantage, talks about how we have been fed the life formula of “Success First, Happiness Second.” If we can just get published, we’ll be happy. If we can just get a higher advance we’ll be happy. If we can just win the Golden Heart or the (fill in the blank Award), we’ll be happy. If we can just lose twenty pounds, we’ll be happy.

It’s a formula that doesn’t work, because as we achieve one thing, we set the bar higher and keep chasing that next goal. The formula keeps repeating in our heads, eroding that delicate happiness state for which we worked so hard.

Achor says we’ve got it all backwards. We should not be gaining success to be happy; we should find happiness, which will help us to succeed. Happiness and optimism, she says, is what fuels the success! Positive brains are more motivated, efficient, and creative. Achor quotes John Milton from Paradise Lost: “The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Think of that. Your mind is beautiful. Powerful. Are we focusing on the joy and rewards of writing, or are we hung up on the difficulties, the competition, the stress, or lack of appropriate rewards?

* * * * * * *

“The Mind is its own place, and in itself

can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

* * * * * * *

How do we get happy, and stay there? We needn’t become zombie smile fanatics, but think of the boost we get from talking to an optimistic, happy person. Like some giant, woot-woot magnet, that type of person attracts people, and their happiness is contagious. Short of hiring a talented clown as a full-time body guard, though, how do we “get” and “stay” happy?

In a Denver Post interview with Achor, he gives some suggestions. If you’ve read something similar before and forgotten it after you walked away from the magazine or newspaper, don’t walk away now. Read these tips. Re-read them, and think about how you can integrate some of these behaviors and methods, so you can be happy, and then be successful.

Three Acts of Gratitude. Just two minutes a day, write down three new things for which you’re grateful. Do it for 21 days. The frequency and repetition are powerful because you’re training your brain and, in doing so, will begin to see the world with fresh, happiness-inspiring eyes. Achor warns about generalities, because they don’t work. Rather than “My health,” my kids, my home,” etc., be specific: “I’m grateful for my daughter because she called to ask my opinion. What I think matters to her.” Or, “I’m grateful because I was alert and caught the fine print in that contract, before I signed it.”

The Doubler. Again, for two minutes a day, think of one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. You’re a writer, so I know you can provide details about it. This can double the most meaningful experience in your brain. Doing it for 21 days will help your brain connect the dots, and you will begin to see and feel the meaning that runs through your life.

The Fun Fifteen. 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day is, Achor says, the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant. With successful completion of just 15 minutes, your brain records a victory, which carries over into your next activity.

Breathe. For two minutes become conscious of your breath going in and out. Fill your lungs, be aware. This has been proven to raise accuracy rates and increase levels of happiness. And drops stress levels.

Happiness, Achor says, is a huge advantage in our lives. When the human brain is positive our intelligence rises. We stop diverting resources to think about anxiety.

Our creativity triples.

More to come on this topic next Wednesday. I’ll be asking you if you tried the Three Acts of Gratitude, the Fun Fifteen, and the Breathing. Give it a try, and let’s meet again and compare notes.

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Ireland Writer Tours 2016

As I mentioned earlier, I will be teaching in a unique setting this August when I team up with multi-published YA/Middle Grade author Dianne Salerni to present the “Secrets to Publishing Success” conference. It will include private consultations and writing classes, with plenty of time for brainstorming plotting ideas.

Dunguire Castle Small

Ireland Writer Tours combines the excitement of touring the Emerald Isle with the inspiration and help of a personal writer’s conference

These surprisingly affordable tours are a heady combination of writing workshops and visiting fascinating attractions in Ireland — a fourteenth century abbey, haunted castles, stone circles, mysterious lakes — it sounds too good to be true, but it is! I’m excited to see all these inspirational sights and share my secrets about publishing and marketing. Something I love even more than writing is inspiring other writers to follow their hearts to create successful, award-winning stories.

This tour has been described as the perfect holiday or birthday gift. I first learned of it through Pam Nowak and Susan Spann. Pam attended the tour last year, and all of my writer cells screamed for me to attend with her, but I couldn’t. I so wanted to stow away in her suitcase. She was generous about sharing, though, and I saw photos of her touring days.  Pam will be presenting a June conference on Craft, Career and Publishing.

Susan, a publishing attorney, presented last year and posted several pictures that made me drool. You can see her post at http://www.susanspann.com/looking-for-a-writing-retreat-try-ireland-this-summer/

And here’s a general post from the tour organizers at http://www.theroadlesstraveledireland.com

This is heaven-on-earth for writers. Come on and join me for the writing, the sights, and the inspiration!

 

 

 

 

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Tabor’s Trinket earns Amazon Best Seller status!

Amazon Best Seller w Nos 6 in wide copyI was half-heartedly checking sales of Tabor’s Trinket last night, and found this!  I was stunned and so pleasantly surprised! Okay, okay, I admit it– I was screaming and jumping around like Serena Williams.  Tabor’s Trinket is an Amazon Best-seller in three categories!  I’m smiling so much, my face hurts! Thanks to all my dear family and friends for your support during my venture into the Kindle world! Thanks for buying my book, and for believing in me!!

To all of my author friends and blog friends who have been following this saga, you know I resisted offering my novels for sale on Kindle. You know how many years I hemmed and hawed and wondered if I should try this.  And here I am, sharing this news with you.  I’m in a delightful state of shock!

 

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Self-publishing-Courage on Steroids!

Fran commented on my previous post, sharing that she, too, had taken the self-publishing path.

What kind of fears do we suffer when we take this big step in our careers? We don’t have the shelter of a big New York publishing house — we lack the stamp of approval that comes from a big publisher’s editor.

I’ve come to realize there *are* traits and talents we *do* possess, though. With traditional publishing, I assumed I would get publicity, but in hindsight, I see that I did the lion’s share of promotion– a massive amount of publicity and advertising. Being our book’s best advocate is challenging, and yes, exhausting!  I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about it.  What have I missed? What can be done more thoroughly? How can I best reach the readers who will love my book?

Doubts needle at the oddest times.  What if my book is given a scathing review? What if my friends read it and–after all my excited conversations about writing, they read it, grimace and think, “So this is what she’s so excited about?”  We don’t have an editor or an agent reassuring us along the way.  We are, from the beginning, in charge of nurturing our Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), and funding all of our promotional activities.

It’s daunting, but we’re not in this alone.  There are hundreds of thousands like us.  Networking helps. Let’s keep clutching our COURAGE cards and following our dreams!  Go ye forth. Believe. Promote. And write more wonderful books!  –Janet

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Choice Overload – Work through the fear to make good choices

Avoid choice overload by focusing on your unique needs.

By Janet Lane

I subscribe to Ted Talks and viewed an interesting presentation by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School and author of The Art of Choosing.  Her talk was about choice overload.

Writers can benefit from her insight. She cited an experiment in which grocery store shoppers were given a choice of 6 different kinds of jams.  On the same day shoppers were given a choice of 24 different kinds of jam. Their findings: more people stopped at the 24-jam table, but only 1 in 24 actually bought a jar, while at the 6-choice table, 30% bought a jar. Bottom line: people were 6 times more likely to buy if they encountered 6 instead of 24 varieties of jam.

What does jam have to do with you?  When faced with a bewildering array of choices, we are more likely to avoid choices, more likely to make a bad decision, and more likely to derive less satisfaction from the choice.

Writers are faced with a massive number of choices that can paralyze us, make us likely to make any decision, in a time when a good decision may help you in our  careers.  Here are just some of them.

Publishing options.  Traditional New York Publishers. Small publishers.  Vanity publishers.  Kindle Publishing. B&N Nook Publishing. Smashwords Publishing. Innovative on-line publishers.

Author support services.  Web site design. Book cover design. Editing services.  Advertising opportunities – Google and other pop-up banners.

Buying paid advertising in return for a book review. Bookmarks, pens, calendars, etc.  A mind-boggling number of blogs and Yahoo groups that offer help with any aspect of writing you could ever imagine.

Educational services.  Dreamy retreats in gorgeous locations, with hands-on instruction on plotting, revising, polishing.  A multitude of on-line writer’s courses for craft and marketing.  Software instructional tapes so you can create your own website, book covers, etc.

 “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can doIs the right thing.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.”  –Theodore Roosevelt

 Here are some succinct ways to reduce your choice overload problem.

  1.  Cut.  Reduce your options.  Why agonize over how to design a book cover if you still haven’t decided you’ll e-pub?  Don’t ponder over selecting a $750/book editor if you don’t have the funds for it. Selecting the big choices first will help you eliminate more than half of the choices.  Write in your consumer journal:  “I need to decide X first.  Then Y.  The rest can wait for another time.  I will focus on this first.”
  1. Concretization.  Make it real. Gather as much information as you can, so you can really “see” what that choice is. Ask the journalistic 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why. Ask successful authors what worked best for them. Learn the costs, royalties, expenses and demands involved in each option.  If you don’t qualify for X and Y, eliminate them as options.  Simplify.
  1. Categorization. If you’re swimming in genres, pick one and focus on that for this time in your life. You can always do a separate study later on something else, but give A, B or C genre your full focus for now, not all three.
  1. Start easy.  Make choices in the areas that have the least number of choices – like Iyengar’s jam tasting table, go to the table with 6 selections first.  Find a way to minimize choices, perhaps by ease of entry, affordability, or some factor that will give you more simplicity and ease of choice.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that

you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action,

you haven’t truly decided.” — Tony Robbins 

– – – – – – – – –

 Wishing you many opportunities … and good choices!  –Janet

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Agent panel at Colorado Gold – agent tips and secrets

by Janet Lane

RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) annual conference offers a wealth of educational workshops and editor/agent panels to help aspiring writers get published. Go to rmfw.org and click on 'conference' to learn more about next September's conference.

Agents at the RMFW conference this year gave us insight and tips that may change the way you target agents, and when and how you query.

Agents on the panel:

Rachelle Gardner, Wordserve Literary Group

Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency

Rebecca Strauss of the McIntosh & Otis, Inc. Literary Agency

Sandra Bond of the Sandra Bond Literary Agency

Here’s a peek into the Q&A session.

 Don’t get caught doing this!

When asked what not to do when sending a query, Rachelle Gardner advised that you don’t start with a rhetorical question, or try to be cute. Follow the submission guidelines for that particular agent.

Sara Megibow suggested that you don’t sub in a genre she doesn’t represent.  Write a blurb that will make her want to read the book.  “I want your query letter to sound like the back cover of the novel,” Sara said.

When trying to suggest an audience for your work, Rebecca Strauss suggested you avoid saying, “I’m the next Faulker.”  Instead, try some content comparison with a known author.  Example:  “My work is along the lines of  X Author.” She said it helps to research what the agents represent. Her example:  “I enjoyed Tempest Rising, and my book is similar to that.”  That, Rebecca said, will make her love you.  “Our books are like our children.  If you compliment them you compliment us.”

Does location matter?

Located in New York, Rebecca is in contact by email and phone, but enjoys the convenience of meeting with editors.  “It’s fun to get drinks with them.”  With personal meetings, she feels they open up more about their editorial needs.  She meets with editors once or twice a week.

Sara’s son loves the New York taxicabs. She travels there for business but “I don’t wine and dine editors in New York.  You can live in the North Pole, but what you want to ask, if you are offered representation, is, ‘Will you represent my book and get it sold?’ Not, ‘Do you buy editors beer?’”

Rachelle loves being able to live here and do her job. She sells mainstream fiction to general markets and to Christian publishers. There are four major Christian  publishers in Denver and in Nashville.  She attends conferences and meets editors there. “When I pitch a book, the main thing is will it get read?” she said. “I don’t have any editors ignoring me.  It won’t be based on where I live.  If I were having trouble getting an editor to pay attention to me that would be a problem, but it’s not.”

Sandra noted that agents live all over the place, and editors know that. “Your job is to target the appropriate agent who is right for your book and our job is to target the right editor for your book,” she said.  “It doesn’t matter where we live.  We do also attend many conferences and meet editors, and go to New York and meet with the editors when we need to.  I have specific editors with whom I want to meet.  But I’m also very good at phone relationships.  Authors, too, are all over the place.  I have authors I haven’t met before.”

 E-publishing – panacea, or the death of publishing?

E-publishing is, they agreed, another format of a book, like an audio book.

We may have fewer printed books, but they’ll never ever go away. Yes, there’ll be lots of e-books, but it’s still a book.

Rachelle noted that everyone in the industry is trying to discover how all who are involved in publishing are going to continue to make money from the written word. We can try to re-invent the wheel every day but we still don’t know the answer to that question.  How much readers will pay for the written word is the new question.

Sara agreed.  “The question is: an author may have 25 rejections and ask, ‘Shall I self-publish?’”  Avoid making an emotionally based decision (To heck with you, I can publish and make my millions without you). Don’t e-publish because you don’t like New York, or don’t like not having control of your career.  “Be careful.”

Rebecca observed that we’re all trying to figure it out every day, trying to guess how we’re going to stay in business, all working hard to get negotiating language in contracts which limits time, where standing royalty rates are in effect and re-evaluate in two years.

Coming next:  bidding wars, age discrimination and surprising insights

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Editor panel reveals how submissions rise out of the slush pile and how to query

(Part two of editor panel news from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Conference)

by Janet Lane

The editor panel this year featured–

Moshe Feder, Consulting Editor for Tor Books

Latoya Smith, Assistant Editor for Grand Central Publishing

Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press (Harlequin digital)

Brian Farrey, Acquiring Editor for Flux, Llewellyn’s Young Adult (YA)

Lindsey Faber, Managing Editor for Samhain Publishing.

How submissions rise out of the slush pile

At Samhain, there’s an agent pile and a slush pile.  “One person logs and sends the sub to an initial reader,” Lindsey said.  “The acquiring editor can make decision independently and doesn’t need a committee. “

At Flux, submissions used to be open to unagented mat’l but it became too overwhelming.  Since March they accept no unagented submissions.  “I prioritize my in-box by what’s I’m looking for, not chronologically,Brian said. He was a book publicist before he became an editor, and this publishing background helps him. “I can put on my publicist hat and present a full package.  I’d love it to always be about the brilliant writing, but this is why I think it will succeed.  I ask myself, ‘How can I sell it if I can’t compare it to anything?’ I have the answers because I know publicity.”

“Our subs hit slush piles for 13 editors,” Angela James said. “We match it to genre and an editor reads it. We do have an acquisition board that includes digital marketing and sales.”   There are eight on the acquisition team.  “We discuss as a team if it’s a book we can get passionately behind.”  She said to think of the process as an  “America Idol” approach of approval.  It’s a go “if two or more people can get behind it, someone on the team who can market and say yes, we can market this book.”

If what Latoya Smith reads is not quite right for her, she passes it along to another reader. If she likes it, she brings it to the editorial board, to either the hard-cover or paperback editor or chief, or to a specific imprint project.  “If I can get them behind me, I can acquire.” Grand Central takes both agented and unagented material.  Every Thursday projects are presented.  And Latoya can’t just love the writing.  “I have to present at least two comparison authors before we can market it.”

Moshe Feder accepts unsolicited subs for Tor, which are read by editorial assistants. The majority of the submissions come from unagented authors.  He often meets writers at sci fi meetings and pitch sessions.  “I’m open to working with new authors.  “It’s not just a question of getting through the acquisition proess, but how I am going to most effectively market this book.  I publish from passion.”

 Nuts and Bolts – How to Query Them

If you wish to submit to Brian Farrey of Flux, you’ll need to have agent representation.  All of the remaining editors accept unagented submissions.  Before submitting, always check the publisher’s website because requirements do vary from publisher to publisher.

Attend conferences, like RMFW’s Colorado Gold, where these gems of information were discovered.  Read articles like these, from RMFW’s Writer newsletter, offered as one of the many benefits of membership in RMFW.

Another tool I find extremely useful is querytracker.net, where you can quickly check an editor’s website and other useful publishing websites and even, if you’re lucky, find interviews that reveal the editor’s current interests and needs.

Now armed with all this information, go forth and create! Write! Polish! And may all of us be blessed with a wealth of opportunity in our quests for publication.

During RMFW’s conference Janet Lane received requests for partials of Traitor’s Moon, her romantic adventure set in 15th century England. Did you receive requests during the conference?  Share your conference success story!

 

 

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