A Recap of My Trip to the RWA Conference in New York City…

on July 7, 2011

Well…I’m back from New York and have been working on page proofs for CLAIMED, which will be released in November.  I thought I’d take a break and talk about New York and the conference.

LOVED IT!

I went a few days early with Debbie and Stephanie (you’ve met them in earlier happy birthday blogs) and Jessica, our friend. We toured Ground Zero (Cried and am so humbled by the heroism of many Americans), the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building; Macy’s…Time Square and so on. 

We also went to Rock of Ages, which was awesome!  The singing rocked (pun intended)—and I’d go again right now.  Here’s a rather funny picture of Jessica and Debbie – I hadn’t read the sign on the wall when I sent the picture to Tony.  He thought it was hilarious.

© Paul Hakimata

Debbie and I jumped on a train (the wrong train) to head to New Haven, Connecticut to see our cousins Neil and Jennie.  Turns out we had to change trains.  We couldn’t
find the other train…ran all over the station in Stamford…up and down nonworking escalators…and finally found it. Yeah, Neil…it was no big deal.  🙂

We hung out with our cousins Jimmie and Molly in NYC.  Molly is friends with the owner of an Irish pub, SWIG – so we spent some time there with the Irish folk and ah, vodka.  Lots of vodka.

The girls left and the conference began.  The literacy autographing was amazing—it was held on the sixth floor and the line started on the first floor of the Marriott Marquis.  I sat next to the wonderful Rebecca York, and we chatted in between people buying our books. 

Being a Zanetti, I was at the end, which worked out quite nicely because the really big authors are against the far wall, and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s line went by my table.  Many of her fans stopped by, intrigued by the cover of FATED.  Yeah, Kensington’s graphic arts department does an amazing job.

The opening session was awesome with questions answered by Best-Selling Authors Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen—who all said…don’t give up.  I sat with my buddies from the Pacific Northwest, Åsa Marie Bradley and Teresa Woodworth–see pic.  We tried to meet up again, but our schedules were crazy.  I’m hoping to see these two at the IECRWA meeting this weekend and compare notes.

I went to lunch with my editor, the magnificent Megan Records…who always manages to find a fun restaurant with amazing food. I even had apple pie.  The Kensington party was held at the Kensington offices and it was AMAZING.  It was the first time I really saw how tight-knit the company is and how it is a family owned company.  I toured the offices, saw the excellent art work…and all the books. The views of NYC are spectacular.   Books are everywhere in the office.  I knew they would be…but it’s different seeing books lining every hallway, on every desk, in every corner.  I could live there.  Seriously.  Here’s a rather blurry picture taken at the event with my phone.

At the party, I hung out with the uber-talented Erin Kellison…and even managed to snag an ARC of her upcoming SHADOWMAN release from her editor, Alicia Condon.  If you haven’t read Erin yet, you really should.  Her books are
fantastic.  She’s also a sweetheart and a lot of fun to hang with.

I finally met Caitlin in person, too!  She’s been my agent for about a year and a half…so it was wonderful to sit down and talk to her.  We talked about my characters like they’re real people…which was so much fun!  My sisters gently remind me once in a while that my characters aren’t real.  Caitlin thinks they are!  🙂  After lunch we walked down to the Liza Dawson Agency, where there was a tea with Nancy Yost and her clients.  I got a chance to chat with both Robyn Carr and Marie Bostwick—very funny ladies, and a bunch of editors showed up as well.

The Kensington book signing on Friday was the first ever Kensington book signing at
RWA, and I was very honored to be included in the signing.   Here’s a picture of Kate Douglas I managed to take before things got crazy.  I sat next to MingMei Yip, and her books were gone before I could grab one.  Mine went pretty fast, too.

With all of the meetings and lunches (yeah, it was rough :] ), I didn’t make it to as many workshops as usual.  But I did sit in on Jennifer Crusie’s workshop on writing and Wonder Woman.  It was fantastic.  If you ever have a chance to see Jennifer speak, GO!  She’s one of the most inspirational and just plain funny presenters I’ve ever seen—you walk away with tons of new knowledge and a smile every time.  She reminded us all that we’re Wonder Woman (in full uniform) and we put on the business suit to go out and promote…but that underneath it all, we always have brass boobs.

It was a wonderful trip—though I’m glad to be home.  🙂

Countdown to RWA conference–Part III – The Nuances of Pitching Your Book

on June 20, 2011

Pitch with finesse, not a hammer…

There are many good sites that give direction about pitching to editors and agents at a conference.  So I wanted to approach the situation from a different direction. 

1)      First and foremost, remember that…AGENTS AND EDITORS ARE PEOPLE, TOO.

Yeah, I said it.  And I’d even go as far as to say they’re a lot like writers.  We all love books and chose this industry because of the good stories.  Many people who enjoy getting lost in books are kind of…shy.  So keep in mind, the agent/editor you’re pitching to might also be a little nervous.

Don’t sit down and instantly barrage them with your story.  Pretend you’re meeting them for the first time (which you probably are), and act accordingly.  Say…  “It’s nice to meet you.”  Ask them how the conference is going for them. Ask them the best part of the conference…or if they had been to any good workshops yet.

2)      Try not to go all fan-girl (or fan-boy) on them.

Remember the kinda-shy part?  Well, if you start gushing about how great they are…they’ll probably get uncomfortable.  HOWEVER, you know who they love?  Their AUTHORS—and their BOOKS.  Tell them how much you enjoyed AUTHOR x’s last book and how surprised you were by who the bad guy turned out to be.  The agent/editor will warm up…and hey…you have something in common.  You both loved the book.  (Caveat – don’t tell them you loved it if you didn’t.  Honesty counts.)

3)      Have confidence in your book—and do your research

Yeah, you’ll be nervous. That’s okay.  But you need to have confidence in your book.  Don’t apologize for pitching it.  When the time comes, and it usually does with the agent saying, “So…tell me about your book.”  Start with your pitch…and let them know right off the bat what kind of book it is.  IE.  “I’ve written an 85,000 word dark paranormal that I think will fit in the Brava line.”  That way they know where to put it.

4)       Tell them about the characters, plot, and twists…but more importantly…how is it different???

So you’ve written a vampire book for Brava.  Yeah.  There are tons of vampire books out there…so what makes yours different?  In my case, it was the science involved…the fact that vamps and shifters are just different species on earth…much like humans.  Then a genetic virus was created…

So while you’ve shown what type of line the book should belong to…how does yours stand out?

5)       Remember that you love your book!

This is fun.  You’re discussing your book – those characters you adore—with someone else who also loves books.  Enjoy yourself—when the agent/editor asks you a question, dive in.  Get philosophical about the black moment.  Gush about the hero.  Admire the heroine.  Smile…and have fun.

Countdown to the RWA Conference – Part II – How to Schedule and What to Bring

on June 14, 2011

This is part two in the Countdown to Conference blog series.  In the last blog we talked about what to wear to the conference.  This entry is about how to schedule your time and what else you should bring, besides clothes.

Try to have a game plan before you arrive.  I go through the conference schedule, read about all the workshops, note when the spotlights and signings are and then create a FLEXIBLE schedule for each day.  Then I schedule a meeting/lunch/coffee/dinner whatever with agent/editor/pr person/pals, etc… so I can see how my days have filled out.  Then, taking note of publisher and agent parties, I look to see when the chapter parties are and if I have time to hit a couple.

    • Spotlights:  Most of the publishers will have a spotlight.  (See conference schedule).  During this time, the editors will usually talk about what’s hot, what they’re looking for, and how to submit to them.  It’s very handy.  They’ll also sometimes highlight what releases they have coming up…so you can see what’s hot.  They take questions…and I’ve seen people line up to do a quick pitch when the presentation is finished.  Also…look around the room.  AGENTS attend these spotlights.  The one you want to pitch to might be sitting next to you.
    •  Book signings:  Besides the literacy signing the night before the conference actually starts, the individual publishers also have signings.  Translation:  FREE signed books.  (Though you end up with tons of free books even if you don’t make it to the signings.)  NOW…I will be participating in Kensington’s book signing on Friday from 12:00-1:30, so I hope to see you there!
    • Workshops:  I love workshops.  Just love them.  So I create a schedule with my first choice, second, and so on…and often end up going to my third choice because it may be about craft, and the ones I’d attended already were about PR. 
    • PRO Retreat:  If you’re a member of PRO – definitely go to some this.  They have cool workshops.  (See guidelines for PRO).
    • PAN Retreat/workshops:  There’s a list up now of the workshops for PAN members – looks awesome!  (See guidelines for PAN).
    • Goody Room:  Don’t forget to check out the goody room for pens, books, notebooks, candy…
    • Free Time:  Give yourself some.  Trust me.

So, there’s a breakdown of the conference and how to schedule your time.  Now…what should you bring besides clothes? I always bring:

  • Granola bars.   You will be unexpectedly hungry and running from workshop to workshop…and who wants their stomach to growl in the middle of the presentation?
  • Emergen-C .   Some people bring that Airborne instead.  You’re in a place with a lot of people, maybe not eating right, and probably not getting enough sleep.  I drink one of these every day of the conference and haven’t come down with that ‘conference cold’ so many people go home with.
  • Comfortable shoes.  By day three, your feet are freakin sore.  Yeah, bring the pretty shoes for night and even the first day.  By day three, you won’t care how your feet look.  You’ll wear the flip flops.  Trust me.
  • Safety pins.  You’ll be a hero.  There are always wardrobe malfunctions…and safety pins are necessary.
  • Sunglasses.  You may end up venturing outside with Cynthia Eden because she wants to check out the ducks in the middle of a pond.  You don’t want to go blind.
  • Pen and notebook.  You’ll be surprised how many notes you’ll take at the workshops…you can even blog about them later.  And you’ll be getting email addresses for new friends.
  • Laptop…if you want.  I bring mine.  Many people will tell you they don’t write while attending conferences.  I do.  I’m usually inspired by something and will need to type something…but you could always just write it in your notebook.  J
  • Prepaid USPS (or Fed Ex) labels.  You’re going to get a lot of stuff.  Books, postcards, pens…so many!  They’ll have boxes and labels at the conference, but if you have your own, you can pack the boxes in your room and drop them at the mailing place WITHOUT waiting forever in line.
  • Ones.  If you’re going to the cocktail parties, you’ll want to tip the bartenders.  Bring ones—you can usually fit those with your cell phone in your conference badge so you don’t have to carry a purse.
  • Your book on a flashdrive.  If you’re pitching (see later posts), bring this.  Don’t bring a hard copy. We’ve all heard the urban legend of the author who pitched and the editor asked for a digital copy to read on her kindle during the plane ride home—loved it and bought it.  Have the flashdrive…just in case.

Okay, that list is by no means exhaustive.  But it’ll get you started.  Next time (on Friday) I’ll blog about pitching…

Countdown to Conference

on June 9, 2010

Hi all!  I’m starting a new blog series today about the countdown to the RWA National Conference to be held July 28-August 1st in Orlando Florida!  There will be thousands of people, hundreds of workshops, several parties and…famous authors, acquiring editors and impressive agents.  In this blog I’ll cover what to wear, how to pitch your book, and how to stay organized (and sane). 

So for today – here’s the link to the RWA Conference:  http://www.rwanational.org/cs/conferences_and_events  where you can go and find how to register, a list of the workshops and notes on which editors and agents will be attending.  My next blog will include what to expect from your pitching appointment.