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…

I’m Holding My Book

on January 20, 2011

So, I taught at the college today and hustled home before going to pick the kids up at school.  A big box sat on my porch.  Well, I figured it was the RWA books I’m supposed to judge for the RWA Rita contest.

It wasn’t.

The Magnificent Megan (Yes, I borrowed that term from Cynthia Eden, but Cynthia is right–our editor is awesome) grabbed some promotional copies of FATED for me.  Then, I held my first book in my hands.  Very cool.  The picture on the front is altered slightly from my coverflat – the woman has a couple of bite marks on her neck.  Oh yeah.  🙂

I may have gotten a little emotional when I lifted the first book out of the box.  Then it was pure excitement.  I held my book.  🙂  It’s been just over a year from “the call” when FATED sold.  (Remember it was called “Urban Bite”).  The year has been wonderful, and the book is about to be on the shelves.  (2/22/11).  It will be available on Kindle on 3/1/11.  Thanks to everyone who’s showed such wonderful support during this year…I really appreciate it.

Also, The Gourmet Way in Hayden is having a book launching/signing party on February 22nd from 4:00 to 7:00pm.  There will be wine, giveaways and some fun.  The public is invited and I hope to see all of you there.

I’ll have some contests and giveaways for signed copies of FATED coming up.  For now, I’m lining my copies up on my bookshelf and just admiring them.  🙂

Sayde Grace Blogs about her new release, “The Harder They Buck” (with 3 giveaways!)

on October 25, 2010

UPDATE:  The winner of the two novellas and ARC is:  Nikkibrandyberry.  Congrats!  We put everyone’s name in a glass vase and drew.  Nikki: Sayde and I will both email you with details.  Thanks everyone who commented!

Hello everyone!! Thanks so much to Rebecca for letting me stop by her blog and talk about my new release The Harder They Buck. I’ve wondered what I’d say about it because I know people get tired of hearing about just the book so I’ve decided to let everyone in on a behind the scenes story.

The Harder They Buck was released Friday and I was all excited to see where it would go on the Kindle Best Sellers list. It didn’t! The Harder They Buck won’t be released to Amazon until today or tomorrow. I asked my editor about this and she said it takes a few days from my release date to get it on their list.

Now I know that a lot of readers love Amazon(I do too)but here’s the rub, Amazon takes a HUGE cut from the sales. I knew they did but it wasn’t until I was talking to my editor that I realized how much they take. WOW. So knowing this I will now buy all my books directly from the publishing house where the books I want are published. Why? Because then those authors get royalties based on the FULL retail price!

All right, enough about that but keep it in mind when our lovely host releases Fated!!

WARNING: This book contains the use of whips, ropes, and handcuffs by one sexy cowboy looking to win the ride of his life.  

Raised by parents who don’t believe in affection, Melanie Brantley developed a hard-edged outlook on life…and love. But then along comes a cowboy who makes her blood boil, and not only with anger. A fact that scares the hell out of her. Enough that she seeks solace at Minx, a club that caters to the more carnal pleasures. 

After recovering from a bull ride gone wrong, Lance Wright is ready to move forward and he’s set his sights on Melanie. Her temper tells him all he needs to know about the passion he’d find in her bed. The wildcat fights him every step of the way, but she’s in for a surprise. The harder Melanie bucks, the more Lance wants to ride.

Excerpt: 

The alarm on Melanie’s cell phone vibrated, thank god. She’d stayed the hour and a half she’d promised. Time to get the heck outta here. 

“Someone important?” Lance’s low voice whispered behind her.

Melanie tensed. She’d been just about to run for the hills. “Kinda. What do you want?” She turned and stared at him. His deep brown hair was half hidden under his black cowboy hat, and his long sleeved orange and white plaid shirt stood out in a sea of red and green shirts. His eyes danced with mischief, and she fought not to dance with them. One thing she did love was a guy to play with, and Lance was always ready to play.

“I’m glad you invited your sister up for the holidays. She’s nice. I was worried when Billie said she was coming up.” He smirked. “It’s hard enough around here with you, but I sure didn’t need another woman threatening me with bodily harm.”

“Leave my baby sister alone,” she nearly growled.

“Can’t do that—unless you’d like to take her place. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit if you’d hold off on hurting me to go out with me, at least once.” He leaned close, his spicy cologne filling her nose and setting her on path to sure destruction. “All that passion you have, I can help you put it to good use.” He nipped her ear.

She wanted to lean into him, to press her body against his and do just what he’d said. Yes, she knew he’d use her passion to drive her to the brink of madness, and what was more, if she let him, she would drive herself further. There was something about Lance Wright that upped her emotions. Never before had a man stirred such hate and love. She’d always heard the line between love and hate was thinly veiled, and standing so close to Lance, feeling his body heat against hers, she knew it was the truth.

Ok everyone, I sure hope you enjoyed the blurb. I will be giving away one free copy of both RIDING DOUBLE and THE HARDER THEY BUCK to one commenter. Oh and if you don’t win you can go to http://www.epubbooks.com/buy-epub-books use the 20% off coupon and download any book to your Kindle and authors still get royalties on the retail price! Sweet!!  Rebecca also just informed me that she’ll give away an ARC of FATED to the same winner.  (When she gets them in mid-November).  Three books for one comment – you can’t beat that!  We’ll draw a name this Friday.  (And you can be anywhere…Rebecca will mail that ARC to the far corners of the earth).  🙂

Thanks Everyone!

Sayde Grace

A native of South Alabama Sayde Grace was raised among the cotton fields and dirt roads of the south. She has a deep love and appreciation for the rural communities and uses her experiences of small town life in her books. A lifelong story teller, Sayde began writing full time two years ago and has written five full length manuscripts which range from romantic suspense to young adult and even erotica. In each of her five books she uses her experiences in farming, ranching, or rodeoing to make the story setting believable. Growing up in the equine and cattle industry have given her a behind the scenes knowledge of the industry. Sayde is currently enjoying and loving life in beautiful South Alabama with her husband and two young children.  You can reach Sayde at her website: http://www.saydegrace.com/

Countdown to Conference – What to Wear

on June 16, 2010

Hi all!  The RWA national conference will occur in late July – and it’s time to prepare!  Thousands of people will converge upon Ths Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando Florida for workshops, pitching appointments and er, cocktail parties.  I can’t wait!  I attended the national convention in DC last year having only been writing for about six months.  I didn’t know a soul and hadn’t joined any of the online specialty writing chapters.  So I went to the workshops and pitched my books to editors and agents.  That’s it.  And I enjoyed being anonymous. 

But  now I’m a member of several online chapters, have an agent and an editor and have made some good friends.  So along with the workshops there will be…yep.  Social stuff.  Cocktail parties.  Get togethers.  Yay!

Last year I couldn’t quite get my head around the dress code.  What the heck is ‘business casual,’ anyway?  Here’s what I saw:  On Thursday (opening sessions, keynote luncheon) – people wore casual skirts, capri’s or pants with blouses, sweaters and/or blazers.  While it’s hot outside, the A/C is pumping inside, so have a blazer or sweater handy!  On Friday – same dress code.  Some people had their pitching appointments on Friday – so the skirts might be a bit nicer or the pants a bit more pressed.  I wore tan pants, white shirt and a red blazer for my pitching appointments. 

Finally, on Saturday you might see some jeans.  (Yes, I wore jeans with a nice blazer on Saturday because both of my pitching appts were the day before.)  But some people will have pitching appointments on Saturday, so they’ll be in…you guessed it…business casual.  🙂

Finally – night time.  From what I observed, normal cocktail attire worked.  Though there are some fancy dresses donned for the Golden Heart/Rita award ceremony. 

It's all about the shoes...

I think the important thing is to be comfortable in what you wear, because that will show.  As always, shoes count.  There’s quite a bit of walking around, so they should be comfortable – and adorable, or course!