July 9th, 2006


Saturday’s chapter meeting.

I was lucky enough to hear Susan Kearney speak to my local RWA chapter yesterday. To learn more about Susan, check out her site at- http://www.susankearney.com/ I’ve been reading Susan for years! She’s GOOD!

Below is my wrap-up of the talk. I used a * to mark items that were completely new to me. I’m still learning the business and my craft.

Breaking through in the business.

Why is your book different?

While once in awhile a book is sold from the heart many more are written to market. Collect rejection letters to find out why yours isn’t selling. * If you have an agent, don’t let them hang on to them for a year. You want to read the rejection letters immediately. You’ve lost an opportunity if you don’t. Be on top of your career.

It’s a tough business. Remember you’re competing with already established authors. Often times for a new author to come on board, you have to knock older author out of a slot. It’s tough and can be heartbreaking.

Editors want a professional
Editors want a writer who can produce stories on time.

You should promote and build up your name before you sale.

LUCK. LUCK LUCK being at the right spot at the right time. Pitching the right manuscript at the right time. Luck, can’t be stressed enough.

Playing the odds.
Write a good story. Write up a proposal and submit. Don’t wait. Submit proposals. You never know when luck will turn your way.

You can’t make it in this business, if you aren’t a storyteller. Sure, you can learn your craft, but if the stories aren’t there—you have northing to tell.
Work hard.
Work smart.
Know what’s important to you and your career.
Follow trends.

Contest can get you good feed back. But, just because you never final doesn’t mean you can’t tell a good story.

Be persistent.
Stay in a genre.
Learn your chosen genre.
Learn the market. What is selling? And remember what is being published today was sold a year or two ago.

Know where your story will fit. Keep your options open.
Multi submit (as in different projects)
Submit to new lines.
Submit to new publishers.
These are great opportunities.

If something doesn’t sale hang on to the old manuscripts, you never know when the market will turn. Be prepared.

Submit proposals, you can finish the stories while the submission is in a slush pile. Or only finish a proposal if you get a request. If you hear back, write it in a timely fashion.

If you get lots of rejection on a MS, file it away. Don’t keep changing it to fit everyone else’s suggestions. Move on. Write something new. Submit a new proposal.

Target the market.
Read FIRST time authors. They have the new voices coming on the scenes.

Harlequin is a wonderful place to get in. Read the lines. Know what they want. Categories authors tend to write at least three stories a year.

Make sure your book fits the guidelines to the house you submit to. Do your research.
Knowledge and networking is invaluable.
Go to workshops and seminars.
Meet people.
Continue to learn your craft.

You are pitching yourself as well as your project;
Editors want people who are positive and professional.
Be relaxed, be presentable.
Have a great hook to grab their interest.
Have three or four sentences to sum up your story.
List includes conflict.
Once you’ve pitched your story and they ask for a partial or a full-- ask questions.
How long will it take for a response?
Ask about revisions- if they’ll be needed.
Ask about a time table
Ask if you can call to check on my submission
Open up dialog.

Once things proceeds. Be sure to listen.
Revisions are a good thing. They don’t ask for revisions if they aren’t interested. Do what the publisher wants. Give choices if you feel strongly But, remember as a new author you aren’t Nora Roberts and haven’t proven yourself, so don’t rock the be boat. Be grateful.

First time authors need to know the going rate. And know royalties.
Know what you will hold firm on.
Negotiate small things
Try for a single large thing.

Know you won’t get it all, but try.

Always be positive. Always respond positively.
Once editors return edits:
Do the changes
Offer suggestions
Say why you are firm on an edit
Or simply ignore what is asked. Occasionally things are over looked

Remember editors aren’t your friend. They are doing their job to make their company money.

*Elena English is a literary attorney. She will review contracts at a reasonable fee:

Make sure you can get out of an agent author contract.
Watch for clauses that lock in agents for the lifetime of the book.
*Split payment fees up. They work for you. Why should your money go to them?
Have your share come directly to you.

Keep as many rights as you can.
TV. Movies.
Other publishable formats.
Foreign rights
Reversion of rights clause

Option clauses:
Be careful with the next story clause.

Word counts and genre helps. It gives the author options incase they want to explore other houses.

Don’t accept basket clauses.
Try for a two book deal and if it’s an option maybe the third, but authors lose out if the first one/s sale well.

*Authors guild.
They will look over a contract for you.

After sale:
Get to know:
Senior editor
Art department

Make contact let them know you want to promote your stories.
Make good decisions

*Established authors are asked to write –blinds.
These are stories that are asked to be written later on.
Established authors are given very little guidelines. Stories are sold on proposal. A reasonable time frame is given to finish book.
Established authors are invited to write or submit for anthologies.

Ask for
Extra ARCs.
RT ads
Cover flats

Good promotion sites:

*Interesting: videos for site.
Scripts costumes
Can be expensive, but sites must keep readers interested in returning.

*Authors often incorporate themselves. Or LLC themselves.
It’s helpful
It makes the author's writing a legal industry, but keeps them separate and safe. New Jersey is the cheapest state to do it in.


It was a fabulous talk. Susan was very open and let us asks away!

Until later~
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