New Year’s Eve Goal Review December 31, 2010
The Business of Business Cards September 3, 2010
When I attended the RWA National Conference in Orlando, I had the opportunity to meet many other writers in the industry. Some were published, many were on their journey to publication and some were in a league of their own. I was just happy to breathing the same air as they did.
Random meetings, in elevators or in the lobby, occurred with strangers. People who I shared space with for a brief moment while I waited to pitch or stood in line for food. During the keynote lunches and speeches, we sat at round tables and ate various versions of the same chicken. Old friends and new acquaintances shared a laugh and made new memories. I also attended the planned meetings: pitch sessions. Another type of exchange occurred. Story teller to an audience of one. An audience I hoped would like my story enough to ask for a part of it or all of it.
And during all of these random or planned meetings, one thing occurred: we exchanged business cards.
Now the coveted agent/editor business card is the special one you pray you don’t lose before you get home. But the other cards are just as important. They are the building blocks of new relationships and friends; a network of support for now and in the future.
But how do you keep track of all these new friends? Acquaintances? I have a trick or two. First, I write down where and when I met the person on the back of her/his business card. I might even include a small note about our conversation so I can reference it later. Then I put all the business cards together and wrap them with a rubber band so I don’t lose them.
Now the goal is to reconnect with these people. But all things in good time. First, I must respond to the coveted agent/editor cards. They are my first line of business. You can thank them for meeting with you in a separate card and post. Or you can do so in the query/follow up letter as part of the introduction. These cards are put in a special card holder. The first line of business also means preparing and sending in the requested materials.
Anyone who has received requests for full or partial manuscripts at a conference knows how daunting this task is to perform. First of all, that story? Well, we return home and look at it and think we need to polish it to the nth degree. It must be as PERFECT as we can make it before we send it to the editor/agent. This is an opportunity to shine. And believe me, the scrambling that goes on to make transform a pretty decent MS into a stellar MS is nothing short of painful, time consuming work.
And anyone who has returned from an RWA National Conference also knows that it’s hard to start this work right off the bat because you’re just so tired. I’d say bone tired isn’t even an apt description. The conference is a high energy, fast paced, on the go and just plain “on” all the time experience. I think it takes me at least a week to recuperate and restore my bopping brain cells into a normal, steady rhythm.
So a week or two might go by before one even starts responding to the important requests. But eventually, at least in my world, I finish and am ready to move onto reconnecting with my new friends in the writing world. Some of them are here–new writers or writers I just met that live in my area. I can meet them for coffee, call them, see them at a chapter meeting or connect via one of the social networks like Twitter or Facebook.
Now I am almost ready to send out a short note via email to the many people I met at the conference. I will look a their cards, flip them over and see what we talked about and be able to send a personalized note. Then I’ll file their cards in my holder and hope to meet them again at the next writing conference I attend.
How do you handle all the business cards you receive when you attend a conference?
Writing is Easy–Selling is Hard July 27, 2009
I spend the weekend doing fun activities with the girls, but working while they slept in. They sleep a lot Praise the Lord! Any rate, I zipped the full MS up to autocrit twice–am disregarding some of the info as it is, well, automatic, but it is useful for misspellings and basic grammar, echoes etc. I reworked my synopsis to reflect the changed ending. I obsessed over what to send first and how to approach it.
Do I send both the partial and the full out? Or do I hedge my bets that the agent is the one and send the full to her? I asked my trusted CPs what to do and a few other writers I just met. My gut and my CPs said to send the full out to the agent, but to tell her that an editor has requested a partial and another editor has expressed interest. As she is the agent, knows the publishing house better, I’d like her to read it and rep it if possible.
If I don’t hear back in a month, then I’ll send a small nudge. Best of all, I will see her in October, so I can pitch the next book to her and then find out where she’s at with the 3rd book.
But it’s daunting. I mean, now I give it a few more polishes before I send it out, but the truth is, at a certain point, I have to let it go. It’ll never be perfect, but I want it as perfect as I can get it for me without changing the story globally.
And once it is out there, I must refocus my energy and write the next book. I need to revise it! That’s what I want to do. All this other stuff is important, but not my main emphasis. With the third book, I’m trying not to worry too much about grammar and perfection as much as I am trying to get the emotional elements of the story down. With the fourth book, I need to do research and get the syntax down.
At least I know what the editors at BLAZE are looking for now. It’s a start.
But writing is easy. Selling it is work. And it is hard work.
I am going to the Moonlight and Magnolia’s conference this October. I’m building on the momentum of my national conference. I need to work on that side of my writing. It’s an expense, but one worth taking if I am serious about my SELLING my writing.
For some, it might be about the social aspect. And certainly that is true. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by other people who get the writing life. But it’s also about networking. I’ve just begun. I plan to go further.
I have a busy week ahead. The last days of my DD’s BFF visit are drawing to a close. We’re taking her to the airport in Birmingham on Tuesday. On Wednesday, clean clean clean. On Thursday, schedule pick up (dreading it) and drive to Asheville. We stay in Asheville till Sunday. Then it’s home again. I start major polishing on the following Monday.
Who knows? Maybe this will be a hit. Doubtful. But I can dream.
Business Brain April 5, 2009
I decided that part of the reason I am in limbo is so my brain can wrap itself around the business side of writing. To that end, I’ve already started looking for clever taglines for my professional business cards as well as my future website. I am also going to do the following:
*read through my pitching workshop lessons
*prep my query letter for the third MS
*critique my synopsis and revise
*prepare my spreadsheet for querying
*research web design sites
I’m also going to take some very necessary time to vamp up my garden and house so I won’t feel “guilty” about how much time the writing is taking up.
So time spent in limbo is actually good for the writer’s life.
PRO Status March 30, 2009
I had to write a blurb about what being a PRO means to me as well as a little bio for my Romance Writing chapter’s website. Here’s what I wrote for my bio:
True to form, Christine ***** has worked backwards to achieve her writing credentials. Unaware of word counts or any other writing rules, she wrote her first novel, Love Builds a Chance (don’t laugh), in 2004. Silhouette Desire requested and rejected this novel before she joined RWA in April 2005. Christine found critique group two years later, joined Virginia Romance Writers of America with them, and, after moving to Alabama, she joined Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie in 2008. After settling into her new home, Christine dusted off her many rejections for the first three novels she completed and achieved PRO status. Christine loves to write very spicy Contemporary Romances and has just completed her 4th first draft as she continues to work toward her publishing dream.
I have done everything backwards. And when I read some of the other bios, I feel so small in comparison to what they have already accomplished. But that’s okay. I have never done things the easy way. I wrote in my blurb about what being a PRO means to me that I believe it forces me to market my work. And it teaches me how to go about that business. I’ve learned so much, but the more I learn, the less I know.
At times it is overwhelming. I remember when I decided to write the first book. It was pure joy. Since that first day, I’ve not always experienced a lot of joy, but I love to write. I’m hooked. I can’t stop and if I could avoid all other activities such as housecleaning and laundry and more, then I would just to have more time to write.
I am in revision mode again. I must polish this book. I don’t know if it will sell, but I won’t know if I don’t try to get it out there and that means fixing any glitches I recognize before I pitch it. I feel soooo behind compared to some of the other writers out there in the PRO roster. I’m only just starting to feel like I am on the ball. I still don’t have a web site or business cards but I am working toward it. Am I behind? Am I ever going to get there? I don’t have anyone here to network with and that is driving me batty. I wish I had a website and a place to look more professional than I am.
Sigh. This day is medium is best.
I haven’t done any writing in a while, or any organizing of my writing in a while, but I have managed to read and digest a lot about marketing my writing.
It’s daunting. But it’s also forced me to think about a lot of ways to approach this process when I return from our vacation. For several years, I’d not considered E publishing because too many people said there wasn’t any money in it, or it would not be recognized by RWA as valid. I focused primarily on HQN, AVON, and other largers houses’ red lines/steamy lines. But I’m rethinking it all.
Why not go for the two or three e publishers, one in particular, who are recognized by RWA and who are just now branching out into the print world? The truth is, I can’t see why not? As long as I see some of these e publishers in the first sales section of the RWReport, then they are recognized. And isn’t that the point? Getting published is part of the writing process.
The other thing that occured to me is that if I can get my foot into one door, then there’s a good chance I can get my foot into more doors and swing them open as well. It is a numbers game. And my numbers for attempts at publication have dropped to zero in the last twelve months (with good reason–hello? can we say move?). Now I need to amp them up.
If I can get my goal of 3 working first drafts going per year and increase my production levels, then I’ll be able to work in three levels of the business, four including the classes I will continue to take throughout the year.
Level 1: Write New Books–it’s key. If I don’t produce, I have nothing to sell
Level 2: Revise Existing Books–an important ongoing element that is very different from first draft writing.
Level 3: Market/Query/Enter Contests: I consider this the selling element of writing. But I am cutting down on the contests. The contests must provide great final judges, editors in the final round I am targeting, and/or an opportunity for excellent feedback. Querying is essential. I must do it more often and to more houses. Marketing is querying along with polishing what I submit.
Level 4: Learning to Improve My Writing: always a must. On-line classes, bootcamps on PRO, attending as many chapter meetings as I can if the topics are relevant.
If, out of all this hard work, I get published by the time I am fifty, I will be very pleased. I have four more years to achieve the goal. Then I’ll have done it for ten years. Actively for five. At that point, much will depend upon finances. Do I continue chasing a rabbit without compensation just because it is my dream to write? Well, I don’t know. I am driven to write. I want to write. But at a certain point, I may reevaluate where to put all this talent and energy.
Or I may not.
Juggling and Jostling March 7, 2009
Today is a lazy day for me. I know we have to get ready for the trip and there is a good chance my DH and I will get the plague. And that will mess up all of next week if that happens.
So today we will make our packing lists and start planning our trip. I will organize the cat stuff and give that to a neighbor on Monday. Next week I will go get my first root canal and my hair done. Then there is packing. And probably coping with absence idiocy at the school. But comeheck or high water, we will be on the road next Friday. And I am pulling out my DD from school no matter what.
I haven’t gotten any writing done. I have done a lot of reading, mostly online, about selling my writing and pitching my writing and I am overwhelmed by the information. But I think once I get back from the trip and hit the writing again full throttle, I’ll be able to take the new knowledge and apply it to marketing my writing.
One day, maybe this year, my ship will come in. But this is just another big step up the writing rung and I have a lot more rungs to go!