Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Meet Pattie Giordani

Pattie Giordani, a long-time editor and freelance writer, has mastered the art of PR. And she’ll help you become an expert, too – at her Write Stuff workshop – SSP: Shameless Self-Promotion, Online and Off.

Q. Why is it important for a writer to know how to promote him- or herself?
Pattie Giordani: If you’re just writing for yourself, maybe you don’t want or need to promote your writing. But if you want people to read what you’ve written, whether it’s a book, a blog, articles, poems—then you need to get the word out.

Many book publishers don’t have the staff or budget for author publicity, so writers must learn how to self-promote. Don’t have a book out? If you’re speaking at a conference, you want to promote that. If you’ve won awards, promote that!

Q. How much time should a writer devote to self-promotion vs. writing?
PG: It depends on what you’re promoting and your own time constraints. If you have a book coming out, you should be devoting more time on promotion than writing the next book. Unless you’re on deadline for that next book, in which case, log on, say what you have to say, log off, and then get back to writing.

Q. What advice do you have for shy people?
PG: My friend, published author and GLVWG member Tina Gallagher (www.tina-gallagher.com), gives a great workshop called Marketing for Introverts, in which she details many methods you can use from the relative obscurity of your home office. For example, use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other forms of social networking to connect with readers and other authors.

Q. Are there books a writer can turn to for help in self-promotion?
PG: I haven’t used any books, except for those with info on general public relations, but you might try checking the library and bookstores before you buy any. Some websites have good information, and attend workshops (like mine!) at writing conferences.

Q. Do you follow your own advice?
PG: LOL, not as much as I should! I will link to this blog on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pattie.giordani) and my website (www.pattiegiordani.com). How’s that for SSP?!

Q. Can you give an example of how self-promotion worked?
PG: I’ve edited press releases for friends who are published who sent the releases to local media outlets and were then covered by those outlets. Many writers have promoted themselves on their Facebook pages, where it works, at least on me—I’ve bought books by authors I’ve read about online.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Quiet Word with Kathleen Coddington

Your presentation, DRESSING YOUR CHARACTERS, at this year’s Write Stuff conference talks about using clothing, props and accessories to help create engaging characters. Which fashion era is your personal favorite, and why?
When I was fourteen, I saw Gone with the Wind and became hooked on Civil War history.  Fortunately, my husband, Neil, shares my passion. For the past 12 years we have been Civil War reenactors with the 88th PA Volunteer Infantry, so it’s easy to guess that fashions from the mid-Victorian era are among my favorites.  Medieval and Renaissance fashions run a close second.  Add to all of this my childhood exposure to Hollywood historical costume dramas like Spartacus, El Cid and Robin Hood and the connection between my love of history and love of historical costume becomes obvious.
Would you give us a couple of examples of how you’ve used a fashion accessory to show a character’s personality?
I toyed with using an accessory in my first book, Witch Ball.  The male protagonist, Nathaniel, carried an Indian arrowhead and rubbed it whenever he was thinking deeply about something or stressed.  Unbeknownst to him at the beginning of the story, he had the same habit in an earlier incarnation.

In my medieval romance, Threads of Love, I took the concept of clothing and character to a deeper level in the development of a secondary character. Serving as a mentor to the two main characters, Lady Marian is an eccentric older woman who dresses in garish colors and is accompanied by an ancient servant, a bear cub and small hawk.  Her outlandish dress and behavior accentuate her bold, forthright and outspoken personality which is the opposite of the typical medieval view of woman hood.

What common problems do writers face when referring to fashion in their work?
Two problems that come to mind are way too much description and anachronisms.  As much as an author may love something—fashion, the quaint setting of the small French village, the arcane laws of Scotland in the 1700s, the true purpose of the book is to tell an engaging, satisfying story not to give a lecture.  Clothing and setting need to be woven into the story in small pieces.

Despite hours of research, anachronisms can still creep into a story.  Nothing jolts me out of a book faster than coming across a character saying, wearing or using an item I know does not belong in that time period.  Editors have reported receiving manuscripts that mention zippers in ancient Egypt, cell phones during the Regency period and clip on earrings during the Elizabethan era.  Readers of historical fiction are a savvy group, so it’s important to do your homework.  Believe me they will let you know when you got something wrong.

Outlandish clothes can certainly make a character memorable, but can a writer ever go too far?
I think it depends on the book and the character.  In general, over the top is fine as long as it fits the tone, style and theme of the book.  Clothing should enhance the characterization, not take it over.

At what point in the creation process do your newly created character’s personal fashion tastes usually come to the fore?
I introduce, at least a hint of it, right in the beginning.  I think this especially important if you want to show character growth at the end of the book by having the character’s style of dress change.  Once clothing, style of dress or a prop is introduced as part of the characterization, that thread must be carried all the way to the end of the story.

Would you give us an example where a well-known author made good use of clothing to show a character?
Certainly one of the most famous examples, both in the book and on film, is Margaret Mitchell’s scene of Scarlett getting dressed for the barbeque at Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind.  On the surface it’s an entertaining look at mid-19th century underwear, but the real purpose of the scene is to reveal to the reader that Scarlett O’Hara is no lady, at least not by the standard definition of a lady during that time period.

In the Scarlet Pimpernel by the Baroness Orczy, the characterization of the protagonist revolves around his foppish clothing and manners, a deliberate affectation on his part so that everyone, including his wife will underestimate him.  He uses his attire to create a persona that he can hide behind while going about the dangerous work of saving French aristocrats from the guillotine.

Candace Bushnell’s Sex in the City in which the main character has a love affair with shoes is a more contemporary use of the concept.

Kathleen Coddington has been writing romance for over 15 years. She has four books published by Ellora’s Cave 1 paranormal and two historical romances under their Blush Line and a futuristic erotic romance under their Aeon Line.  She has also published several articles about the fashions of the mid-19th century and teaches novel writing at Northampton County Community College.  She is a member of RWA, Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group.  A retired school librarian, Kathleen is a member of two Civil War reenacting units and is a frequent lecturer at schools, women’s groups and historical societies.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Write Stuff 2011 Interview with Janice Gable Bashman

Q. It’s obvious why a nonfiction writer would need to know how to conduct interviews, but why should a writer of fiction develop this skill?

Janice Gable Bashman: When writing fiction, writers often need to interview people to obtain source material that cannot be found through normal research channels.  The information gleaned from these interviews can provide background material or information directly relevant to a plot. For example, I’ve interviewed geneticists, bank personnel, police officers, archeologists and many others for my fiction. The information they provided has proved invaluable, and it’s information I could not have found any other way. The information added realism and detail to my work and also ensured the accuracy of the hard science/fact behind the fiction.

Q. Do you recommend recording an interview? Why or why not?

Bashman: Do what works for you. In the beginning, I recorded interviews if they were conducted by phone. However, over time my typing skills improved and I was able to type while interviewing. At this time, I mainly interview via e-mail. It gives the interviewee an opportunity to consider his response before replying and to also consider what additional material might be helpful to my project. It also saves me the trouble of typing everything or fixing tons of typos (when typing and interviewing simultaneously), which can take considerable time.

Q. How do you prepare for your interviews?

Bashman: Interviewing for fiction and nonfiction are a bit different in this respect, so let’s start with nonfiction. Before I interview someone, I research his background and read through any old interviews I can find on the Internet. I then use the interview responses I found on the Internet to help me compose more in-depth questions that pertain to the subject matter in which I am interested. For fiction, this step is not necessary, but I do need to ensure I am not asking an expert questions that can easily be found elsewhere; otherwise, I am wasting his time, and that’s no way to gain someone’s respect or obtain his help.

For both types of interviews, I prepare. I don’t go into an interview without a set of questions, although those questions may change as the interview progresses. I may also add other questions based on the interview responses.

Q. Whom have you found particularly challenging to interview? Why?

Bashman: I don’t want to name names but one person comes to mind. She is an executive at a well-known company, and it took me nine months to arrange an interview with her. The day I got her on the phone, she asked if we could make it quick because she was having a bad day. I knew that if I rescheduled it could be a long, long time before I talked to her again. I also knew that I wasn’t going to get the interview I wanted if she was already feeling like it needed to end. So, I was left with quite a challenge.

Q. How did you overcome the challenge?

Bashman: Instead of starting the interview, I decided to ask her why she was having such a bad day. I listened, made it clear that I heard her, and let her know I appreciated the difficulties she was having. I suggested she do something special for herself after work, and she mentioned a treat that she had planned to buy a few hours later. Once we finished talking about her day, she was quite willing to give me the interview, and it was a long one at that.

When the interview was over, I thanked her for her time, as I usually do, but I went one step further. I went to my local store, purchased that special treat she mentioned, and mailed it to her the next day with a short note thanking her again for the interview. About a week later, I received a letter thanking me for making her day better and for caring so much. The lesson learned here is that it’s important to listen to the needs of the person you are interviewing. After all, they are giving you their precious time, and they must feel
the cause is worthwhile.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


by Kathryn Craft, Agent/Editor Chair

Folio Jr. agent Molly Jaffa has sent her deep regrets that she will not be able to attend this year's conference. The fifteen conferees assigned appointments with her have been informed of a substitute mode of pitching to her (if you are one of them, and didn't receive the e-mailed notification, please contact us with a correct e-mail address asap).

We'll miss Molly, who had enthusiastically volunteered for other aspects of The Write Stuff as well. Over the course of the past week the conference committee has been busy digging for what opportunities this last-minute turn of events might afford.

And here they are!

Our loss:
Molly's Saturday 8:50 a.m. session, Getting a “Yes!”: From Query to Representation in Ten Steps.

Your gain:
NOW OPEN! Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman's highly desired two-hour workshop, Interviewing Techniques And Strategies For Obtaining Expert Help With Fiction & Nonfiction Writing—which quickly filled and has a waiting list an arm long—will now move to Salon A. If you wanted to attend that session but didn't make the cut, you are no longer closed out.

ADDED SPEAKER/NEW SESSION! At 8:50 am, in Room 235, author, attorney, and former literary agent Ann Boyle (bio below) will give Page Cuts: the Query Letter Version. Yes, bring your query letters along! Ann will cover what an agent looks for in a query letter, and what turns her off—then offer feedback on as many letters as time allows. This is a small room, so the session will go to the first 15 conferees to show up. Still learning what the whole querying game is about? No problem—bringing along a query is not a prerequisite.

ON THE MOVE: During the 9:50 a.m. session, Donald Maass's Creating Depth of Character will move to Salon C, and Juliet Grame's Elements of a Bloody Good Crime Novel will move to Room 235. Again, please note that Room 235 only holds 15 people, so if you want this session, please arrive promptly. Kathleen Coddington's Dressing Your Characters, which features costume models (rumor has it this includes conference chair Tammy Burke!), will stay put in Salon B.

Our loss:
Page Cuts panelist Molly Jaffa.

Your gain:
NEW PAGE CUTS PANELISTS! In addition to the roster of Page Cuts panelists already in place, which include agents Sarah LaPolla and Alia Hanna Habib, editor Juliet Grames, publisher Karen Syed, and author/presenters Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman, we are happy to announce the addition of thriller author Don Helin; author, attorney, and former literary agent Ann Boyle; as well as fantasy author and attorney Michael Ventrella. Read on for their bios.

A.M. Boyle gave up a 17 year career as a trial lawyer to pursue her love of writing. Having lived at various times in New York, Pennsylvania and South Florida, she now resides in South Jersey with her husband, two kids, and various “fur children.” She has published numerous short stories and other material both in her own name and as a ghostwriter. Her first novel, Turn of the Sentry, was published in 2009, and is slated to be re-released shortly as part of a trilogy. She’s also worked as a Literary Agent for several years, both independently and as part of a firm. Currently, because of her writing projects, she is on hiatus from her literary agency, but hopes to continue with it again in the near future. When not writing and revising, she spends her time doing Missions Outreach for her local church.

Michael A. Ventrella is the author of the fantasy novels Arch Enemies and The Axes of Evil.  He is editor of the forthcoming Tales from Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View anthology, and his pirate short stories have appeared in the anthologies Rum and Runestones and the soon-to-be-released Cutlass and Musket: Tales of Piratical Skulduggery.  He’s currently working on a novel about a vampire who runs for president. At his website’s blog he interviews other authors, editors, agents and publishers to get advice for the starting
writer. In his spare time, he is a lawyer.

Don Helin is the author of the thriller The Kingdom Come. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he entered the U.S. Army and served in posts across the United States, and overseas in Vietnam and Germany. After his military career, Don spent a number of years in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist for industry, giving him more material for thrillers. Don used his experience in the Pentagon to create his protagonist, Colonel Sam Thorpe. He is an active member of the International Thriller Writers and Pennwriters.

See you at The Write Stuff next week!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Mean There's More?

by Donna Brennan

Getting all set for the Write Stuff Conference? It's almost here. Do you have your manuscripts polished, your pitches practiced? Have you selected the workshops you plan to attend? Did you make your room reservation yet? Almost sounds like we need a checklist. With so much to think about getting ready for the conference, we don't always have time to plan for the “other” aspects of the conference.

Like, what are our meal options? What else is there to do? What's the best way to network at the conference? After a full, exciting, and educational day of Donald Maass' workshop, how would you like to unwind? Or would you not want to unwind? Would you want to keep going in high-energy mode?

With so much to do at the conference, it may seem like begging the question—but, honestly, what else is there to do? Non-conference stuff, I mean.

Let's approach this one thing at a time. First of all, meals. Everybody has to eat, right? If you've signed up for Donald Maass' pre-conference workshop, lunch will be provided both Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, breakfast and lunch are included in the conference package. But what about Thursday and Friday night dinner?

The Four Points Sheratan has a fine restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Friday, since we don't have much time between the afternoon workshop and the evening program, they will have a  buffet dinner available at a reasonable price. Also, the Sheratan typically has sandwiches available in a refrigerator case near the front desk.

Checking in early on Wednesday? Staying Thursday night for the pre-conference workshops? Yes, you can rest up in your room and prepare for the next day. Or, you can burn off excess energy in the hotel's gym or pool. Yet another option is to spend social time with other writers, networking, sharing information, and just having a good time. One place to do this is in the hotel lounge during happy hour (from 5-7) or listening to the live DJ in the evening (Wednesday and Friday only). Or folks can post to this blog or the email loop about when and where they'd like to meet up.

A great way to enhance your conference experience is to attend the conference edition of the Writer's Cafe, to be held in Salon C on Thursday night.

To help you decide what you want to do during your “off” hours, I've put together a schedule of some of the options available.

Wednesday night
             Arriving early? Plan a meeting place or look for folks in the hotel lounge
          Happy Hour in Lounge (5:00 – 7:00)
          DJ in Lounge in evening
          Pool (10:00 – 10:00)
          Exercise Room (open 24 hours)

            Breakfast options
·         á la carte or buffet breakfast in hotel
·         local restaurants
            Pre-conference workshop with Donald Maass (8:30 am – 5:00 pm—includes lunch)
            Dinner options
·         dinner in hotel dining room
·         sandwiches from hotel refrigerator case
·         local restaurants
          Happy Hour in Lounge (5:00 – 7:00)
          Writers Cafe (Salon C, 7:30 – 9:30)
          Hotel Lounge open till midnight
          Pool (10 am – 10 pm)
          Exercise room (open 24 hours)

            Breakfast options
·         á la carte or buffet breakfast in hotel
·         local restaurants
            Pre-conference workshop with Donald Maass (8:30 am – 12:30 pm—includes lunch)
            Lunch options (for those not attending the morning workshop)
·         lunch in hotel dining room
·         sandwiches from hotel refrigerator case
·         local restaurants
            Pre-conference workshop with Lisa Rector (1:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
            Options for folks not attending the afternoon workshop
·         relax in room
·         pool (10:00- 10:00)
·         exercise room (open 24 hours)
          Evening meal options
·         dinner in hotel dining room (buffet available)
·         sandwiches from hotel refrigerator case
·         local restaurants
          Happy Hour in Lounge (5:00 – 7:00)
            Conference Registration (6:30 – 8:30)
            Page Cuts (6:30 – 8:30)
            Tuning your Pitch session (7:00 – 8:00)
            Scavenger hunt (8:00 – 8:30)
            Welcome Reception (8:30 – 10:00)
            DJ in lounge in evening

            CONFERENCE DAY – choose your sessions; buffet breakfast and lunch included

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flash Fiction Contest 2011

by Bernadette Sukley

A contest for writers of fiction, non fiction or, poetry that can be read in a

Here's how it works:
1. You must be an attendee of the Write Stuff Conference to enter.
2. Total length is 100 words or less, not counting the title.
3. Use an easy-to-read font, 14 points or larger, and print your story on
plain bond paper.
4. IMPORTANT: Lightly print your name and genre on the BACK.
5. Only one entry per category.
6. You do not have to be present to win. However, winners can receive
awards that may include certificates for book fair purchases that must be
used at the Conference.
7. IMPORTANT: Your entry is DUE no later than 8:30 AM Saturday morning.
Entries are accepted on Friday prior to the Conference.
8. Only Flash Contest Officials may display entries on the boards and
assign a number for voting purposes. All others will be removed.
9. Flash Conference Officials reserve the right to disqualify any entry
that is incorrectly written, labeled or submitted.

All attendees are invited to vote. Here's how it works:
1. In order to vote, you must be an attendee of the conference.
2. Use color-coded index cards in your conference packet. Pink for Poetry,
Blue for Non Fiction and Yellow for Fiction.
3. Write down the number of the story that you wish to vote for each genre.
4. You can only vote once in each genre. Voting starts at 8:45 AM Saturday.
5. There is a box provided for the placement your ballots.
6. At 2:30 PM all voting will end and ballots will be tallied. The winners
of each genre will be announced after 3:30 PM.

[[NOTE: I think if you entered you can vote for
yourself...does that sound right? I think last year people "recused"
themselves when they could have voted. Also you can enter all 3 genres &
vote for yourself in all three genres.]]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meet Nate Hardy!

You’re finally finished!  Your novel, memoir or book of essays is ready for readers.  How to market it?   Don’t miss Nate Hardy and our conference workshop, Marketing Made Easy For Writers.  Hardy is the founder of Plus Sign Business + Life Coaching, and a Pennwriters board member. A former journalist, Hardy has a writing and publishing background and is an experienced teacher and workshop leader.  His assists to writers include a book on strategic marketing and a website for writers to evaluate and optimize their own websites and blogs. 

Melba Tolliver: Tell me how you got into marketing for writers.

Nate Hardy: Marketing is my field and I’ve been a published writer for decades, so it was something that naturally evolved. I have seen so many writers struggle with marketing--especially with the increasing importance of online marketing--that I decided to devote more into helping them.

MT: Are there general marketing rules for writers?  Do the rules change depending on genres?

NH:  Yes, there are some general rules for marketing. I put some of these rules into simplified concepts to help writers better recall and follow them. The Promotion Pyramid (which is one of these concepts and featured on the cover of my book, Strategic Marketing Made Easy For Writers) shows how writers need to prioritize their marketing money and time based on how many people they can reach through each marketing tactic. Maximizing reach of one’s audience is a key rule. Planning a marketing strategy before implementing marketing tactics is another rule. Catering to an audience’s needs and not just the writer’s needs is yet another rule. Differentiating one’s work from the thousands of competing writers and books is a must, too. 

Traditional ads are not very effective for fiction authors, but can be for nonfiction authors. More niche genres like Romance (a large genre but predominantly women) require more niche marketing, otherwise an author will waste a lot of money and effort marketing where most of the audience doesn’t need the product.

MT: Tell me the difference between PR, Promotion and Marketing. Are they different?

NH: Yes, they are different. PR (aka Public Relations or publicity) is geared toward informing the public and is usually free. Because it’s often delivered by the media, it is also considered objective information. Examples include author interviews (TV, virtual/blog tours, etc.), press releases, and articles and reviews on the author or book.

Promotions are short term incentives, typically with expiration dates, to boost sales and lower hurdles for customers to buy a product. Promotions can also be free just like PR--the author is betting on an increase in sales that is large enough to offset whatever is given away in the promotion. Examples include freebies, contests, and coupons.

PR is not marketing, yet promotions are. For discussion convenience about writers and other small business sole proprietor matters, PR and promotions are lumped together with marketing, and marketing involves everything that generates product awareness and the customer’s desire and ability to buy.

MT: What is the biggest marketing mistake writers make?

NH: Jumping to marketing tactics without having a marketing strategy first. Another common mistake is putting too much effort in low-reach low-sales marketing tactics like book signings instead of putting more effort into high-reach high-sales efforts like publicity.

MT: What should writers consider when determining their marketing budget?

NH: More marketing money doesn’t always equal more sales. Neither does more reach if the media outlet does not serve the author’s audience. After putting together a marketing strategy, writers should estimate how many sales they can reasonably expect from each marketing tactic and compare those numbers to the cost. If the sales can’t cover the cost, it may be best to reduce the marketing budget until expected sales better meet costs, unless the writer is new to the market and thus has no awareness because there is market penetration and startup cost a “new business.”

MT: How does marketing differ for self-published writers and those who have traditional publishers?

NH: The biggest difference is in distribution. Traditionally-published books are in practically every book store, so authors only have to concentrate their marketing on readers. Self-published books are rarely found in book stores, so self-published authors not only have to concentrate their marketing on readers but also on convincing distributors and book stores to sell their books in order for readers to have a convenient place to buy them. Moreover, publishers handle some of the marketing of its own books, while self-published writers typically handle all of their own marketing.

MT: How can a writer determine the market for her book?

NH: Pick 3 representative competitors already in the same market and study them: the types of readers they have, media appearances, websites, other authors and organizations with which they collaborate, who they seem to cater to most, etc. Writers can learn a lot from seasoned competitors. And because competitors in the writing world tend to be helpful and aren’t dog-eat-dog secretive like the corporate world of Pepsi vs. Coke, writers can even ask competing writers directly for advice.

Another way to determine the market for a book is to think through the biggest themes and characters of the book. With what reader populations would these themes and characters resonate the most? What are the market sizes of these reader populations? Writers can contact federal, state, and local census and economic development offices for market demographics data or search the internet for pertinent articles and reports.

MT: How do ISBN numbers, bar codes, advance information sheets and other factors affect the sale-ability of a book?

NH: These things help booksellers, organizations, and other buyers purchase the book. It’s recommended that authors list their book’s ISBN number on marketing material and websites because one will never know what buyer--a casual reader, library, or special interest group--may be interested in ordering the book.

MT: How can a writer use a website to promote a book?  Should it be a website dedicated to the book?

NH: A website can cover every aspect of marketing strategy: awareness, customer needs, interest in the author and the book, and the ability to order the book. An author can have a website dedicated solely to the book. However, an author-dedicated website may be easier to maintain and take greater advantage of cross-sell opportunities with other books, products, and information. My book Strategic Marketing Made Easy For Writers includes a Website Scorecard to help writers objectively evaluate and optimize their websites or blogs, which is available at http://www.PlusSignProductions.org/2009/09/products.html.

MT: How does a writer go about soliciting blurbs for her book?

NH: This isn’t as hard as some writers may think. It can be less intimidating if writers think of how the blurb also helps the person solicited. Get a list of experts, authors, and media personalities that serve or may resonate with the author’s audience. Mail them a brief request, telling them how great they are for the blurb in the introduction. If they never read or don’t have the book, offer to send them a copy. Expect only X percent of the people contacted to respond because some will not.

MT: We have all heard about the author who sold her first book from the trunk of her car and made it a best seller.  Is this myth?

NH: Yes and no. People who are naturally good at sales can sell hundreds of books this way. Extroverts will do better at achieving such sales feats than introverts, and most writers are introverts. Virtually all writers who sold books out of the trunk of their car and reached the bestseller list got there after being discovered by a traditional publisher that had the store distribution volume to make their books bestsellers, not before. 

Journalist and writer, Melba Tolliver has been a tv news reporter and anchor. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Black Sports and other publications. She has served as writer-in-residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY and Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Melba blogs from her websitewww.melbatolliver.com and is completing Accidental Anchorwoman: Choice, Chance and Change.  She interviewed Nate Hardy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Write Stuff editor opportunities!

By Kathryn Craft

With the conference almost sold out, Juliet Grames, of Soho Press, still has appointments available. We know why, of course—most of her acquisitions are in crime fiction set in other cultures, and apparently we don't have any authors at present who are targeting that narrow genre.

Since Juliet's background in publishing and bookselling has so much to offer us, we've decided to do something about that.

To best serve our conferees who do not yet have agent/editor appointments, and to make the best use of Juliet's time and expertise, we are now opening up her appointments to the following additional consultations:

Literary fiction and memoir.
Juliet writes:
Sorry if I wasn't clear--I DO acquire literary fiction, and also memoir. I just also acquire a very specific kind of crime. And the ratio of titles is really about 1:3, litfic:crime. If you want an idea of some of the books I've bought, I'll post a couple literary fiction deals announcements here.

(World English) Fuminori Nakamura's THE THIEF, winner of the prestigious Oe Prize, the story of a virtuoso pickpocket who is drawn into a web of intrigue in the Tokyo underworld, to Juliet Grames at Soho Press, by Kazuto Yamaguchi at Kodansha, for publication in early 2012.

ROCK PAPER TIGER author Lisa Brackmann's second novel, a literary thriller about an American woman who stumbles into a dangerous circle of spies and cartels in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Juliet Grames at Soho Press, for publication in early 2012, by Katherine Fausset at Curtis Brown (world English).

THE SPANISH BOW author Andromeda Romano-Lax's THE DISCUS THROWER, about a young German art dealer sent to Italy in 1938 to collect a famous statue for the Fuhrer, pitched as compared to REMAINS OF THE DAY, to Juliet Grames at Soho Press, for publication in 2012, by Gail Hochman at Brandt & Hochman.

Individual ten-minute consultations on the publishing/writing subject of your choice.

  Possibilities include:
  • People who will be ready to pitch next year (they don't have a finished manuscript) but would like to practice pitching this year, and get feedback from a pro.
  • People who'd like to get a sense of the commercial viability of their project, or want to ask for an insider's perspective on how to make it more so.
  • People who'd like feedback on their query letter.
  • People who are stymied by a writing challenge and seek advice. 
  • People who might be interested in learning more about how the publishing industry works.
Keep in mind that you'll still only have 10 minutes, so have your material/questions ready.

How we'll do this:

Dianna will give appointments to the first "X" number of e-mails she receives ( X = number of appointments still available). Please put "JULIET GRAMES" in the subject line. You need not tell us what you want to use the appointment for; we'll trust you'll come up with a good idea.

To reduce work on Dianna, who has held up so beautifully to the rigors of registrardom that we'd hate to crack her now, you will only hear back if your appointment has been granted. If you don't hear back, you can assume you were too late.

Please take advantage of this amazing opportunity! On your mark, get set...

...e-mail Dianna!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Write Stuff Checklist/What do you write?

by Kathryn Craft

It's been a year in the making but now that it's almost here, it's hard to believe we're now accepting our final few registrations. Just one month from today, the 2011 Write Stuff conference will be over!

As you prepare your personal countdown to The Write Stuff, here's a handy checklist you can use. If you have other ideas, feel free to add them in the comment section.

Ahead of time:
1. Make Final Quick Fixes to your manuscript (we writers are never done fiddling!).
2. Choose desired sessions to free up networking time on site.
3. Research your agent or editor (check previous blog posts for additional links and info).
4. Write/rehearse pitch if meeting with an agent or editor.
5. Write 100-word flash contest entries (fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction).
6. Make business cards (some authors put their title and brief pitch on the back).
7. Contact Tammy to donate a raffle book.
8. Figure out your “brand” (see explanation, below).
9. Moderators: write intros.
10. Ask Tammy: How can I help?

1. Business cards.
2. Query letter, if desired (some agents are actually relieved to be able to read your pitch).
3. Flash Contest entries (14-20 pt font, name/category on back).
4. Bring any giveaway table items (book marks, flyers, brochures for writing-related services).
5. Maass/Rector workshops only: full manuscript, either printed out or on laptop.
6. Page Cuts: Bring print-outs of 4 first pages, 4 (100-word) synopses.
7. Questions.
8. Your A-game!

At conference:
1. Try out pitch at informal Thursday Writer’s Café.
2. Moderators: introduce yourself to the speaker you'll introduce at the cocktail party.
3. Dress nicely (business casual), in layers to accommodate a range of room temperatures.
4. Drop off flash entries before 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
5. Drop off giveaway table/raffle items.
6. Ask everyone you meet: What do you write?

Sometimes the networking you can accomplish with other writers is the most valuable long term take-away from the conference. When Linda Glaser of Ithaca, NY decided to try out our conference in 2005, she volunteered to help us accomplish some last-minute tasks—and after a post-conference manuscript swap, I found not only a friend, but a writing partner perfectly suited to my work and style. We've been swapping ever since.

Keep in mind that if you're going to ask everyone you meet what they write, you have to be prepared to answer the same question. But coming up with your personal brand isn't always easy. Many of us have a variety of genre interests. How do you succinctly describe what it is you write?

In the March/April 2011 issue of Writers Digest magazine, writer Gigi Rosenberg cites an exercise included in Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor:
Long advises writers to make a chronological "List of Works," starting with the very first poem, essay, novel or other piece you ever wrote. You only need to have completed a first draft of the work to qualify for the list.
Rosenberg says that when she did this assignment, she discovered that her 14-year-old, 21-year-old, and 35-year-old selves had all been exploring the same themes and concerns throughout her life. It sounds like a great approach, and reminds me of something bestselling romance author Shirley Jump told us at a GLVWG meeting many years ago. Shirley shared how excited she got when some of her writing friends helped her realize that she wrote "sweet romantic comedies." She had never thought of herself as particularly funny, but the description felt right. Suddenly, Shirley told us, it was so much easier to describe her work to others! It also helped her stay on track in her career as an author, even while occasionally genre-hopping.

So with your checklist now in hand, I look forward to seeing all of you fully prepared writers at the conference. And when we meet at the Four Points Sheraton, I'm pretty sure you can guess what I'm going to ask you!

Countdown to The Write Stuff: 23 days!!!