So this week I'm off to the RWA in Sydney. I'm really looking forward to this year, probably more than any in the past simply because I feel like I have gotten to know people over the years and so I'm far less worried about being a Nigel-No-Friends this year.
That's of course a common fear for anyone attending a conference like this and has more to do with oneself than anyone else. Most people on the whole are very friendly and welcoming at these events. There is the odd frosty type, and of course you get that in any crowd. Sometimes those people make for the funniest stories but I'll never tell because "what happens at conference stays at conference as they say". Anyway, I just figure those people are shy and don't want to make friends so it's time to move on.
Anyway, to help out anyone new to the whole conference whirlwind here is an old Conference post on Pitching and the Conference.
And of course if you are attending please come and say hello if you recognise me.
Here are two of the hilarious and confusing things about meeting people at writers conference:
1. Authors don't look like their author pictures in real life. In fact they often look like the best version of themselves in author pictures (or even the best version of themselves ten years ago) and that person who introduces themselves in fancy dress at a cocktail party isn't going to be looking like that.
2. Lots of authors use pen names (especially romance authors). So the person you know as Melody Smith online might be called Melissa Smythe-Jones in real life. Confusing much?
So people look different, have different names and may be in fancy dress - it's not at all confusing now is it? Having said that after one leaps those hurdles (did I mention the Have Chick Lit Will Travel Box set is racing up Amazon in the Sports category) everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming.
And for Musical Monday because it's the Romance Writers Conference here is a song about kissing. I've loved this song since the day I heard it.
Today I'm going to provide you with some chat and then some links to places I've been mentioned in cyber space this week or places I think might interest you.
As you know I was at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. One attends a conference like that for a variety of reasons including professional development, the opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers and as well as networking with other authors.
I did pitch on the weekend so I need to get busy preparing my submission while busily prepare to launch my next indie title.
It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people who want to talk about writing and books. (What could be better?) It's also a chance to put faces to the many writers you meet on twitter, Facebook and via blogs.
Now I'm home it's time to link up. I need to e-mail people, find their Facebook author pages and follow them on twitter, before I do what I did last year and misplace all those lovely business cards I've collected.
Speaking of linking up here are a few links where I've been mentioned around the web this week.
The lovely Cindy Roesel wrote this lovely piece about Mr Right and Other Mongrels on her blog today.
My friend Pamela Cook who I travelled to the RWA with did a great blog post yesterday about our travels.
And I understand my novel Hearts Afire has been nominated at Indie Author News for favourite indie book for September here. If you liked it and would like to vote for it this is the link.
Today it's a sunny Saturday in Sydney.
This time next week I'll be at the RWA Conference in Perth. I'm so looking forward to it. I'm helping with the newbies a couple of times so you may see me wandering about in a Pirate's hat. If you do, come and say hello.
One think people can do at Conference is pitch to a publisher or agent so I thought I'd bump this blog post from last year that explains the pitch process.
I think I'm about ready for conference...I have my fabulous new postcards. I almost have my outfits planned. I'm going with my writing buddy the wonderful Pamela Cook so it's going to be a whole lot of fun. it's Pam's first conference and my fifth I do believe.
I'm looking forward to catching up with some lovely authors I've met at previous conferences and also online.
There are lots of great workshops - let's see if I can finally master Scrivener. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile I'm just plugging away on Building Attraction which will be out soon. Have a great Saturday (I have to take my daughter to netball and then we have her birthday party - what fun!)
It's the most beautiful sunny day here in Sydney. It's just gorgeous actually. Yes, it's the middle of winter which is REALLY not my favourite time of year but the sunshine makes it all seem like spring surely can't be too far away. (This is a illusion of course but I'll take it).
I'm taking a break today (even though I really shouldn't) to have lunch with a good friend for her birthday. we're having lunch down by the beach. I can't wait!
As you can see from the picture beside me I have a blog tour scheduled next week.
I'll post more details as we get closer but for the sticky-beaks out there here is the schedule.
I also need to get working on my pitch for the RWA Conference. I'm pitching a really fun chick lit book. Well I think it's fun. Unlike most of my books it is not set here in Australia but set in New York.
New york is fun. I was there for exactly 2 days last year. It wasn't quite long enough with an ten year-old in tow (especially one who has just spent a week in the pristine calm and cleanliness of DisneyWorld. she has a bit of culture shock). We did the express tour which was a shame. We didn't get to catch up with anyone in or near the area that we knew. Next time!
This weekend I will be working on my pitch. Writing some posts for the blog tour and hopefully finishing the edit for Hearts Afire so I can hand it off to my editor. That sounds rather ambitious.I better enjoy that lunch today.
I was just over on Facebook where a friend was talking about pitching for the up-coming Romance Writers of Australia Conference.
The first time I pitched I had no idea what to expect. I felt sick. I was anxious. I was out of my depth.
Why do people pitch? The reason is simple. There are very few ways to sit down with an agent or a publisher and tell them about your book. Many publishers won't read manuscripts that aren't submitted to them by an agent and many agents have closed books. This is a golden opportunity for a writer.
Pitching, for the uninitiated, is like doing a very quick job interview. Well, I think conference pitching is a cross betweeen speed-dating and a job interview actually.
A conference pitch session is usually 5 minutes which is a lot shorter than any decent job interview. I think if your job interview only lasts five minutes it is safe to say you didn't get the job. I believe speed dating is usually less time at the table closer to 2-3 minutes. (I am happy to report I've never been speed dating which is lucky because I would have stunk at it. I'm flirting impaired. It's a fact.)
Like speed-dating lots of conference pitches take place in a group environment where several agents and publishers are in the same room but each at their own little table. When your time comes the door opens and you go and sit opposite the person you have been allocated and then at the end the bell rings and you say your good-byes. Just like speed-dating!
The job interview objective is get the job or get a second interview. In speed-dating you want the person you like to choose you and ask you on a date.
At a pitch you have an objective as well. You want them to ask to see your manuscript. Some agents/authors ask for a partial (manuscript) some ask for a full. You want to be asked for a full. If you're asked for partial that's great but it's more like you've been asked out for coffee than dinner and you want dinner! Either way though you dance out of there happy and full of hope (See why it's like dating?)
On a side-not I have also done group pitching. I would equate that to being asked on the group date on The Bachelor. It's pre-set and some publishers/agents only do group pitches. For the pitchee it's actually more nerve-wracking because on top of the usual fear and jitters you have to worry about the other people at the table. You're not really competing against each other but it can feel that way and you certainly feed off the energy of the others. It's awkward and afterwards if one person is asked for a partial and another for nothing, well, there's less dancing your way out of the room.
Just like in a job interview you want the interviewee to like what you have to offer. You want to appear competent and knowledgeable. You hope the time you've spent developing your skills will shine through and you will be selected. You understand it's a pragmatic business like interaction. They may not choose you and it may have nothing at all to do with you or your ability. (They're looking for rural women's fiction and you are pitching romantic suspense for example. They're list is full in your area. They just published someone similar to you.)
However, I think it crosses over into the dating realm again because so much of your heart and soul goes into a book. You love your novel. You want it to be loved. You want the person across from the table to "get you" and want to know more about this great love. You want it to be a shared passion and so the rejection feels personal and so does any success.
That's what pitching looks like and feels like. Each time you do it I think it gets less scary. I would say I'm still not great at it and my nerves are evident each time but I keep going back and people keep reading my work which of course is the objective.
I'll do another post with practical tips on another day.
As a writer one of the hardest things to do, I think, is put yourself out there. Lots of writers are quite unassuming types who enjoy
spending time at their computer or keyboard creating imaginary world's full of wonder, torment and delight. Of course that's not an easy task but it is a far easier one than taking that finished work and sending it out into the universe.
Once a book is written it needs to be read by others initially this is simply for quality control. In your own writing you can't see the wood for the trees. You need objective eyes to tell you that you accidentally changed a minor characters name half way thought, that you used a certain word way too many times or that there is an enormous plot hole in your book. This process can happen more than once and usually happens several times before you are happy with a book.
Next up you need the work to be word perfect. Again despite your best efforts you really do need someone objective and with "fresh eyes" to read through your work for you. Of course publishing houses have editors that help with this but nobody wants to send in shoddy work, even established authors are laborious about these steps.
For an unpublished author the next step is sending your work out to an agent or a publisher. This is a very scary step or most people who hit "send" on the email or journey to the post office with their heart in their mouth. Then all one can do is wait.
Other ways people can try and get their work out is through entering writing competitions. This is a great way to get feedback on your work, of course not all feedback will be positive so you have to be ready to take the constructive criticism given and consider its merits. I have entered several competitions and been a judge on a couple. I found both experience really helpful for my writing.
If you do well enough many times you will be read by someone with influence. Competition judges in the final stages are often publishers or agents. This can be a great way to get your work in front of the right people.
What got me thinking about this today, however, was conference pitching. That is where you sit down one on one with an agent of publisher and pitch your book to them. This is a rare event and usually takes place at a conference. Today the Romance Writers of Australia has opened their pitch requests for their 2012 Conference. There are an impressive list of agents and publishers there from both Australia and overseas so it’s important to make the most of an opportunity like this. (They are a great organisation and you can learn more about them here http://www.romanceaustralia.com/index.html)
I have pitched at conferences twice now and while it is a scary process it is also very worthwhile.
I’ll write more about the process in the coming weeks and ask other writers to submit their tips and thoughts on the process.
Meanwhile this event - So You Think You Can write - is taking place at this week’s Sydney Writers' Festival for anyone interested in public pitching which is definitely putting yourself out there.
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
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