Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Upcoming Conferences On Pitching

I want to give you all some advance notice of some great chances to learn about the business of publishing as well as getting to pitch your projects to some great professionals out there.

The staff behind the organization and instruction of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop are excited to announce The Portland Writing Workshop AND the Seattle Writign Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event just outside Portland, on February 20, 2015 and February 21, 2014 respectively.
This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (100 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2015 Portland Writing Workshop!
This year, they have brought in my good friend, Chuck Sambuchino from Writer's Digest!
Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.09.19 PMChuck Sambuchino (,@chucksambuchino) of Writer’s Digest Books is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. His authored books include Formatting & Submitting Your ManuscriptCreate Your Writer Platform, which was praised by; andHow to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, which was optioned for film by Sony. He oversees one of the biggest blogs in publishing (the Guide to Literary Agents Blog) as well as one of the biggest Twitter accounts in publishing (@WritersDigest). He is a freelance editor who has seen dozens of his clients get agents and/or book deals, and he has presented at almost 90 writing conferences and events over the past eight years.
The conference is also providing pitch times with:
This year’s ever-growing faculty so far includes literary agent Sandra Bishop (Transatlantic Agency), literary agent Mary C. Moore (Kimberley Cameron & Associates), literary agent Natasha Kern (Natasha Kern Literary Agency), literary agent Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary), agency representative Jodi Dahlke (Fuse Literary), and editor Adam O’Connor Rodriguez (Hawthorne Books).
This year’s faculty so far includes agent Kathleen Ortiz (New Leaf Literary), agent Kristin Vincent (D4EO Literary); agent Genevieve Nine (Andrea Hurst & Associates), agent Fleetwood Robbins (Waxman Leavell Literary), agent Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary), editor Adam O’Connor Rodriguez (Hawthorne Bookes), and agency representative Adria Olsen (Martin Literary Management), and more to come.
Make sure to check out the details by following the links below! Space will be limited so get registered today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Art of the Pitch - What We're Really Looking For

We know you hate pitching and to be honest, there are many editors and agents who feel the same way. And yet, these pitches really can make a difference if you know what to do in that short period of time to really make it profitable for your career. Unfortunately, too many authors really do ruin all of their chances in that pitch with the approach they take before that editor and agent.

Let's begin with a known truth. We are not going to do anything until we read your story. Since this
business does revolve around the product itself, we are going to need to read the whole thing, and maybe, depending on the size of the agency, or if it is an editor, we may have to bounce it around to other people to see their feedback. Do not expect a contract right there and right then with that person. HOWEVER, you can make the sale here. Again, this is not the contract, but getting your foot in the door.

You see, the purpose of the pitch is to sell the IDEA and to sell YOURSELF as the perfect fit for what the editor or agent is looking for. Your job is to wow us with your professionalism and to demonstrate for us that your project and your writing is something we cannot live without. If you do that, when we do request your material, we will have you in our mind and waiting for it to show up in our email when we get back from the conference. You want to hook us.

Now I do have to say, you cannot force this or be something you aren't. A bad pitch is enough to make us start tuning you out and making decisions before we even read your manuscript. So, what are we looking for? Let's go through this from the beginning of that 10 minutes to the end.

The first 1-2 minutes - We are watching and listening to you. We are seeing how professional you can be. I've said it before and I'll say it again - "You never have a second chance to make a first impression." Therefore sitting down and shoving a business card in our face, or telling us this is your first time and you are nervous is not going to show you are ready. We're looking for eye contact, smiles and confidence. Seeing this makes us know we aren't going to have to drag the story out of you, or spend more time comforting you.

2-5 minutes - We want to hear about your story. Show us you can sell it to us! We need the title, genre and word count. We want to know the GMC of your characters. We want to know the conflict in the book. We want to know what the take away is for the reader. The key here is to show us you know why your story is unique.

6-9 minutes - We're back to you now. This is where we might take some time to ask questions. We're not so much interested in the project, but now we're assessing how you handle the public side of publishing? Do you know your characters well enough? How about the story? But we're also looking to see if you have a sense of your career. In this case we want to know all about your as a writer. We want to see if you have a handle on the future.

The last minute - We're likely giving you information on what to send to us. Yes, this is strictly an informational moment but we are still assessing. Are you taking notes? Do you still show that confidence you had when you came in? Did you ask relevant questions to show you are knowledgeable of the business?

The thing is, what image are you giving to that editor or agent? Are you someone we need to take seriously?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Understanding The Business of Publishing Is A Must

Being successful in writing is about much more than being a great writer. It is about knowing and understanding the publishing market. It is about knowing how the whole process works from the initial phases of your draft to the moment it hits the book shelves.

Too often we find authors who finish that first book and immediately start shipping it out to editors and agents to get it published. They typed the words THE END on that last page of their novel and they are ready! Unfortunately, all too often, these writers just don't know enough about the business yet. In some cases, they have accidentally written this fantastic novel and an editor or agent loves the project. Now they are faced with being a professional writer before they are really mentally ready.

I always try to talk here on the blog about taking your time with your craft. The world of publishing will be around for a long time so don't rush it. I want to encourage you during this holiday season to take the time to learn the business. Figure things out. All of those editors and agents will likely be on breaks so use this time. Consider the following:

  • How long does it take for a standard editorial process within a publishing house?
  • What do editors really do?
  • What do agents do?
  • How do contracts work?
  • What is the author's role in marketing and publicity?
  • What are all of those nasty little phrases in contracts?
  • What are the differences between the different types of publishing platforms?
  • Etc.
These are just some of those little questions.

In reality, if you don't understand how the business of publishing really works, the odds are you may find yourself in a real bind with contracts, rejection letters and so forth. We really don't want to see that happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More On Revisions, Plotting and Other Silly Stuff

I talked a couple of days ago about plotting and stories that sort of take on a life of their own. I wanted to take a couple of minutes this morning, to continue that discussion.

When you come up with story ideas for that next "great story" this is the time to slow down a bit and do a little brainstorming. This is the time to really see how things fit together, or, for that matter, IF the ideas even fit together. You see, at this early phase, everything is still a jumbled mess. Your brain is sort of on auto-pilot and the thoughts are coming, not in a logical fashion, but more as a train of

These initial thoughts aren't necessarily bad, but maybe the story elements really don't fit together in the grand scheme of things. You are trying desperately to keep these things together as one unified thought, but your brain is just trying to see if those thoughts even work together. Needless to say, struggles you might have as you write the story could be a result of that lack of planning and thought before you write.

Let me give you a couple of things to consider as you think through that new great story:

1) Spend some time writing everything down. Don't worry about the order. Don't worry about the connections. Just get every one of those thoughts written down.

2) Give those days a day to digest. You might even come up with some more thoughts. If so, add those to the list.

3) Look for common connections. You want to shoot for a single common theme that will unify everything together.

Let me expand on this one. The prior book I read through from one of my clients was all of the place and it wasn't until over 75% of the way through the book when we stumbled across the theme. She had this great scene she had crafted out about the protagonist and her mother fighting. She noted that her mother always had this same theme of "if only..." with each of her arguments. THIS was that theme she had sort of scene in the early phase of her writing but didn't do much with it.

4) Don't toss out those other ideas. Keep those later, sort of as left-overs for future books.

Let me expand o this one. The book I just finished editing, this was the case. The author has this great second story line, but it really didn't feel like it was supposed to be part of this book. So we are going to work through this thought and, instead of fighting to find a way to force the two together, take the time to branch it off into a second book.

The point of all of this is simple. Think before you write. No, you don't have to plot things out, but think it out. You might find yourself much happier at the revision phase.