Tag Archives: rwa

Book bundle giveaway

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have too many books, and bringing 50 more home from RWA did not help my shelving situation.  So I’ve decided to give three bundles of books away.

If you’re interested, post a comment below telling me what your favorite subgenre is.  On Wednesday, I’ll select three commenters (assuming there are three or more, which is a huge assumption) .

The bundles include:

Historicals

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Paranormals & historicals

Notes from two more workshops at RWA:
 

Hot Vampires, Demon Slayers, and Enchantresses: the Many Flavors of Fantasy (CRAFT)
Speakers: Pati Nagle and Mary Jo Putney
Fantasy author Pati Nagle and best-selling RWA Honor Roll author Mary Jo Putney discuss the varieties and core fantasies of paranormal romance.

The explosion of the paranormal in publishing parallels the explosion of scifi in the 30s:  readers are using fantasy to escape the misery of reality.  Jo Beverley has said that post-9/11, the fantasy of power and immortality presented by vampires, along with the triumph of good over evil, is reassuring to readers, escape from reality.

Fantasy is grouped with science fiction, but is fundamentally different.  More books are published in fantasy than scifi, and there are many more women readers.  Has different formats: high fantasy vs urban fantasy.  Nagle’s interest:  elves vs. fae, very different fantasy characters, with different mythologies.

Where does your book fall, as romance with fantasy elements or fantasy with romance elements?  Think about the primary noun in your description.   When is the relationship element completed?  Does the book hold romantic tension until the end, or is it disposed of before the other plot elements are concluded?

Historical readers get their fantasy fix from the setting, not from the woo-woo, which makes historical fantasy romance a harder sell. 

Urban fantasy today is not what it used to be.  Original authors were deLint, Bull; now includes romance, werewolves, vampires, classic horror elements.  Key difference from horror is the HEA, even if it only comes at the end of the series.

Monster as hero/lover is key element of paranormal romance.
Alpha as powerful –> power fantasy because "tame" ; hard to do in contemporaries because of PC problem, escape that in urban fantasy.
MJP:  there are no sparkly vampires in her world, but Meyer has tapped into power fantasy safely.

For paranormals, the heart of the book is the romance; the books tend to be shorter but the worldbuilding develops as the series continues and each relationship develops.

Urban fantasy:  bigger stories usually, with the series becoming darker as the series continues.

Marketing makes a difference:  UF marketed in an affordable format outsells high fantasy in more expensive format (JMC’s comment: duh). Difference in covers:  UF gets hot chick with tattoos; romance gets hot guy with tattoos.

Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series as example:  Mercy is not one of the powerful, lives among them, is clever and does things they can’t, is both within the community and apart.  Good structure.  Same with Anna in Alpha & Omega series.

Another example:  Rebecca York/Ruth Glick’s werewolf series.

Series dominate now because of the community feel; because women/readers like continuity.  (Uh, okay, if you say so.  Am seriesed out.)

Original Buffy movie started it all.

Rec:  Adrian Phoenix, A Rush of Wings

MJP:  recently sold YA fantasy historical

How to Live in Another Century of Just Sound Like You Did (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Lauren Willig
NYT best-selling author Lauren Willig offers strategies for acquainting yourself with another century’s sights, people and politics, and how to create the illusion of specific time period while maintaining the balance between historical accuracy and demands of the narrative.

Researching a historical novel is harder than researching for dissertation because have to bring to life wihout overwhelming plot and characters.

1.  Immersion phase: broad general knowledge of the period
     a.  biographies very digestible, get detqails on food, clothes, furniture, friends, more than political/cultural studies on period
     b.  letters:  cadence and rhythm of language; can be accidental history
     c.  museums
     d.  open stack libraries
           i.  online catalogs
           ii.  mine footnotes
           iii.  ILL
     e.  talk to academics and check out historical societies (people want to share their expertise)
     f.  Research shelf
         i.  Dictionary of ________
         ii.  Baedeker’s guides
2.  Working knowledge into the book
    a.  goal is creation of illusion of era, not perfect recreation but reasonable illusion
    b.  in dialogue with reader
         i.  what you know to have happened vs what reader will believe to have happened
         ii.  is the accuracy important enough to you to break the fabric of the story?
   c.  avoid the infodump
   d.  historical reality filtered through hero/heroine
        i.  if they are used to smells, don’t notice them; if they are used to footmen everywhere, don’t see them
        ii.  if you want to draw those elements in, must figure out way to do so via the h/h perspective

Q&A:
Contractions are fine: they were used historically, although the popular ones were different.  Can be used to convey mood/character.  Use sparingly. 
Advocates against the use of footnotes; historical notes at the end work better and are less distracting to readers.

Found the research portion of this to be…nothing new or original.
 

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Notes from Rogue Digital Seminar

There are other summaries of the Rogue Digital Seminar at RWA (not by RWA) out there, but here are my notes. 

Kassia Krozer: Changing Business Model

Royalty structure has to change: publishers cannot pay % on $26.99 cover price when booksellers sell $9.99. Move toward royalty on net.

Be careful with territorial rights for ebooks: if in English but not available everywhere then are losing sale.

Authors must pay attention to business side of things, worry about more than just writing the book. How are you getting paid? Future options include chunked content. Ask publisher, if breaking into pieces and/or distributing outside of usual “book” format, how is author being paid or compensated for this use? [Not necessarily paid, compensation may be in other format, such as increased marketing budget via chunked content that would otherwise not have gotten out of publisher.

Tech piracy – drm is bad. When deciding on format for e-release, consider the reader, because if a reader has to update the program constantly, the reader will walk. DRM doesn’t deter piracy. 

Reversion of rights for traditional print. Line shifting on what is 
"out of print" be very careful.

Jane Litte: Google Books Settlement summary
Monopoly effect on orphan works (in copyright but holder unknown)
Covers books in print Jan 09
63% of profits paid to book registry then to publisher less admin fee 
no timeline set @ registry’s discretion
Disputes settled by arbitration
Talk to agent not publisher, bc conflict between author and pub
Section 5.3
Revenue models, need to opt out if disagree
Subsriptions paying for access not ownership – institutional and 
consumer
Ad revenue
Per page printing fees

Sarah Wendell
Walk-through of the costs of self- publishing print vs digital. Numbers given by author, believe the walk-through was the subject of a post on SBTB.com, or maybe were posted as a comment to a post on self-publishing and digital rights. [Sounded familiar.] Ultimately: publishing costs are same until decide format.  Going with a digital publisher rather than self-publishing probably better because they have have process already.

Angela James: Digital publishing model

Digital publishing has been around since 90s, but recently has  exploded. Easy to open an e-publishing house but quality varies, so be careful about who you submit to.

Creating an e-publisher takes capital investment.   But still no advance? Historically, not large audience and not mainstream, worried about selling through advance.  Instead did higher rate of return $1.20-3.00 per book via 35% royalty rate.

Why not advances if digital publishers are so profitable? Profit margin standard (like most corporations, regardless of size), despite booming business.

·         35% royalty

·         40-75% distribution costs

·         5% editor royalty

·         Flat fees for cover art, website maintenance, formatting, copy editing, marketing.

·         Not a huge amount left for profit, varies per publisher but maybe 5%.


Some books make only dollars while others thousands. Varies widely. Need to sell 750-1,000 books in order to break even. Not all books do, so higher sellers do sometimes support lower sellers. Can and do publish books because believe they should be published, not because they expect to earn out. (Ex: Butterfly Tattoo)

Panel/Q&A: Perspective of authors who are NY & epubbed simultaneously

Take-aways: 

·         Became PAN-eligible based on e-format sales, within 2 months

·         Majority of sales in the first week or so of release, but have a tale of sales

·         Earned out beyond the traditional advance amount with each book Still earning on digital backlist, love Kindle.

·         Appreciate the monthly paycheck of the digital publishing model, increased communication, compressed timeline, crossover readers, more autonomy in writing less to market.

Sony Reader giveaway (Katiebabs won!)

Booksonboard.com giveaway for all attendees

Birthday cupcakes from Hello Cupcake for Kassia

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Give away?

I won a tote bag full of beach-related items from the fabulous K.A. Mitchell.  Among other things, the tote included towels, sunscreen, thermos, glasses, goggles, and a copy of each of her books in print.  However, since I purchased a copy of Diving in Deep at the Literacy Signing, I now have a copy to spare. 

I’d like to pass it on to a reader who would like to try m/m romance, but who hasn’t figured out where to start.

I also have a bunch of other books from the various publisher signings that I’ll be giving away as well, assuming I figure out how best to do so. 

Suggestions about the best way to do this?

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Conferences sell books

Okay, I know that many, many more books were given away as part of the conference than were sold as part of the Literacy Signing.  But I’ve already downloaded four books by authors I had never heard of before, and probably would not have tried but for the fact that I met them (or a family member who chatted about them) at the conference.   Why did I buy these when I have 40 new books to shelve and read?  Because their names and/or story hooks were in my head.  I’d’ve bought others if they were available as ebooks…

  • Savage Dragon by Anna Hackett
  • When A Lady Misbehaves by Michelle Marcos
  • The Secret Soldier by Jennifer Morey
  • Body Chemistry by Dara Girard

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RWA Day 4

Was intrigued by the blurb of Lessons of Firefly: Learning from the Works of Joss Whedon…but not enough to attend the workshop.  Instead I went to the Ballantine/Bantam Dell/NAL signing.  Got a book by Jessica Andersen that sounded very cool, and a copy of Lover Avenged signed for CR, who loves vampires, werewolves and other creatures.  [Not sure what happened to the book between yesterday morning and this morning, because it was not to be found when I was packing, which is disappointing.  CR wasn’t expecting it, but I got a kick out of getting it for her and knew she’d be thrilled by it.] 

Anatomy of a Best Seller
Chris Keeslar (Dorchester), C.L. Wilson and Angie Fox spoke about how the two authors became best sellers with their debuts.  Each took different routes:  Fox’s series is about a demon hunter, but the hook is the geriatric Harley riders, which is unique; Wilson wrote the book she wanted to write and kept submitting it to contests until it won (forget the name of the judge who selected it at last).  Also spoke about the importance of book covers — for both authors, covers are key.  Fox’s readers expect to see the dog on the cover; Wilson’s cover (cat with wings and fire) reflects theme/content as well.

By this point (nearly noon), my attention was wandering.  I left a little early to have lunch in the bar; good thing, too, because the bar was empty when I arrived but full no more than 10 minutes later. 

The Billionaire Tycoon’s Secret Promotional Baby: Making the Most of Online Marketing

Barb Ferrer:  if you don’t like it, don’t do it.  It shows when you are blogging or Tweeting, etc. but doing it grudgingly because you feel like you ought to.  The anonymity of the web is seductive, but it really is not so anonymous (ex:  Alice Hoffman debacle last month): don’t say anything online that you would not say to a critic’s face.

Carrie Lofty:  If you blog, don’t just talk about your book.  A group blog can be good, but it needs a purpose and a clearly/carefully managed schedule.  Marketing online can be fun if you do it right and with the right people:  network and meet people through online sites in common.  Don’t be afraid to share free content, like the parody in parts done with Tumperkin, Kate Rothwell, Ann Aguirre, et al., and Saltzburg Serenade, an published book she shared online.

Jane Litte:  Power Point walk-through of creating a digital book.  Done because so many authors see technology as an impediment, but it can be a tool.  Giving away free shorts on your website can monetize your longer content.  (See J.A. Konrath’s posts on his free work; added to Kindle, people are willing to pay because it is in a format/file they can port.)

Jane’s presentation was interrupted for a fire evacuation.  The workshop was continued outside, then resumed briefly inside.

Ann Aguirre:  Be generous and openhanded.  She gives away the books of other writers, books she loves.  It seems counterintuitive but isn’t:  readers stopping by trust that they aren’t going to be bombarded by self-promo and appreciate it, but they are still aware of her name and her books when they are released.

Sarah Wendell:  Watchwords are generosity, authenticity and consistency.  People can tell when you are shilling and when you are not: don’t do it.  Also, "romance needs to get horizontal".  A high tide floats all boats.  [I’ve always heard the variation, a rising tide lifts all ships.] Doing good for you can result in good for me too.

No Holds Barred Chat with J.R. Ward and Jessica Andersen

  • Angel series is going to be seven books
  • BDB began as 10 but can go longer
  • Not catering to readers, but does respect them
  • Negative results of message board?  There’s conflict as part of any community, need to differentiate community from books.
  • Promotion has no relationship to writing; writing time is carved in stone, and promotion will NOT interfere with it.  Contrast to Andersen, who does promo work when still has energy but doesn’t have creative spark.
  • Different creations of their paranormal worlds:  sprang from head fully formed a la Athena vs. found by Google trail and personally intrigued by the Maya
  • Proud of Lover Enshrined by admits it didn’t have enough romance
  • Still considers herself a romance writer first and foremost
  • Got Lover Unbound wrong:  when trying to match a human mortal with an immortal/long-lived vampire, struggled with HEA; when found a way to give the permanent HEA as ghost was relieved, took for granted that readers would be equally relieved.  Was shocked when readers were upset, and believes that the problem was that they couldn’t "see" as she could; problem could’ve been resolved if she had added extra material to the book showing how the ghost/hand thing worked.  Was disconnected from reader and underestimated the challenge to conventions that a dead heroine was.  [Mentioned that readers will see Manny again, and he’ll see Jane as ghost again.]
  • Vishous/Butch:  wrote their relationship that way intentionally, so readers could see it or not, depending on their own slash-goggles.  Interested in seeing how Blay/Qhuinn rolls out.  (V-sexual made me laugh.)
  • Mentoring:  Ward had Grafton as mentor, who basically told her to cut the adverbs and a lot of detail; sketching picture, not painting a portrait.  Andersen met Brockmann at a community college class on writing romance.  Theme for all is pay it forward; give help to other writers as they try to break into the field.
  • Editing/balancing what goes on the page, in terms of sex and violence.  For example, the Mayan culture’s approach to bloodletting and human sacrifice has to be toned down.

Routes to writing romance very different too.  Ward always wrote, became full-time writer when moved, then got fired because of low sales for contemporary single titles.  Then came BDB.  Andersen changed career paths but wasn’t enthralled by work and wanted to be, so analyzed what she loved best: reading romance.  Began writing series, but wanted to move to single titles; struggled to get proposal accepted until she hit on something she was passionately interested in, Mayan mythology/theology.

Observation: not particularly well-attended in comparison to the Crusie/SEP/Brockmann chats.  Is this a function of writer respect vs. reader/fan love, and representative of the demographics of the convention?  Or maybe people were just interested in other stuff.

Really was done in by then, so I dropped my bag at the hotel and went to see The Hurt Locker, which is about as far from genre romance as you can get.

The RITA stuff was twittered all over.  I left early, feel conferenced/conventioned out.

Saw several people at the train station this morning with their Harlequin bags.  My suitcase weighed a thousand pounds…or felt like it.  Ended up bringing ~40 books home, and I was selective about the books I chose at the publisher signings — books/authors I had read before or was interested in reading; not just picking up books in order to have them.  Also got a few cool chapter excerpts, like that of Laura Kinsale, Courtney Milan & Tessa Dare, etc., and a dvd with a bunch of first chapters from Zebra.  Will probably be giving a bunch of this stuff away, because in retrospect, while I love having autographed books, I don’t need them and am reading fewer paper books every day.

ETA: meant to add that the general consensus wrt the WaPo article about the RWA conference was that it was a backhanded slap.  At least that’s what it seemed to be when the subject came up during the Ward chat and in conversation between workshops.  All about money, formula, and yeasty mother figures?  WTH?

When Ron Charles accepted his Veritas Award, he said something about trying to cover romance with more respect and more fun.  Fail.  Sure, this article respects the money romance is earning, but not much else IMO.

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RWA Day 3

Jo Beverley: 21 Years and Counting

Beverley’s workshop was more a retrospective of changes in the industry, along with some advice on how to comport yourself.

Began writing in the 80s after a workshop at the library on how to write romance; had no knowledge of writing or the publishing industry.  And it was a completely different world, technologically speaking.  The downside of technology is that the high tech frills are only useful if they make writing easier, more often a distraction (in her opinion).  If it doesn’t help you, you don’t need it.  JB is still writing on 21 year old DOS computer.   Also, no WWW, no internet when she began.  Take it for granted now that research can be done online (Google Books, Project Gutenberg).  Great for marketing and communication, particularly when seeking the community of writers and shared experiences.  The downside is that it is a time suck, so you need to be able to prioritize (big rocks vs. sand in a bottle exercise).

General advice:

  • Be careful of agent choice; even the best of agents may not be the best for you.
  • Remember the personal/human aspect of the business: editors have a lot of choice and authors are replaceable.  Be professional, keep deadlines, but don’t be too much in awe because they are people too.
  • Learn how to read and understand rejection letters and their subtext.  Is it saying "fix these and resend" or is it saying "good but not for me"?  Also, you don’t always have to do everything suggested by editors and agents.
  • Information flow can be harmful (bad reviews, toxic groups), so be careful of what you consume.
  • Be careful of chasing the latest hot thing (YA right now); historicals were pronounced dead, but she just kept writing them and had no significant drop in sales.
  • Assume that an expert (in whatever) will read your book, so get the details right.
  • Don’t spend all the advance, hold on to some.  Equates money with freedom, meaning she could walk away or write what she wanted (or buy book back if relationship with publisher did not work out, as with Something Wicked)

Personal note:  JB is moving back to the UK shortly, has joined RNA.  My Lady Notorious being issued there as Lady Notorious.  It’s a completely different market; she has always written for North American market.

Suzanne Brockmann:  Breaking the Rules

Spock’s credo:  Infinite diversity in infinite combinations as her guiding principal.  
Sam & Alyssa:  their story arc included unhappiness and separation before HEA; when it finally arrived, no one mentioned that they were an interracial couple…because it was never a significant source of conflict for them.  "She’s black, he’s white, so what?"  Used the WWII subplot to have the interracial relationship be the source of conflict.

Harvard Becker:  only the second Intimate Moments with black hero and heroine.  But the buzz at the time was that her hero was an enlisted man, not an officer, not at all to do with his skin color.

Jules.  Oh, Jules.  First a witty sidekick, but always with the plan of making him a major player.  Increase role but also introduce the idea that he is not an asexual being; show that he is worthy, a hero, eventually get a romantic subplot that is a disaster, then walk away and regroup until he gets his own HEA.  His partner had to do the same — regroup, prioritize, show worthiness of hero status and HEA.

Non-HEAs for subplots are intentional.  Promise to always have HEA for main hero and heroine, but some love stories don’t have happy endings and she’ll show that through secondary characters.  (Spine of the book vs. the soul.)  This allows the readers to have a comfort zone, but to also take them out of it.

How to strike balance between message and entertainment?  "Soapbox moments" through dialogue of characters, but use sparingly.

Do you have to be an established author to break these rules?  It seems like publishing houses think there is no market for different things (ex: m/m romance set in 70s).  Being NYT bestseller helped, yes.  But there are a lot of small presses putting out GLBT work right now.  Or integrate it as a subplot and send to a mainstream publisher.  The market may be there, just not be on the publisher’s radar.

Asked SB after about the potential career advancement for Jules (and return to DC) if DC recognizes same sex marriages performed elsewhere.  Got a huge grin and a response that she hoped the council passed the law.  California disappointed her for political reasons, but also because of the effect on her characters’ careers.  So, yes, the DC outcome could be reflected in future books. 

Intellectual Property session
Moderated by Nora Roberts (who was wearing very strappy high heels).  Nora spoke for a bit about the Dailey situation, including some information that I had never heard before.  The lessons she learned:  shout it out, accept no excuses, don’t worry about their reputation.  Writers should not think plagiarism is no big deal, and the lack of support from the writer community was shattering.

The two IP attorneys walked through a scenario and gave a Power Point hand out that was helpful; I understood what they were saying but don’t feel competent to repeat it in a helpful way.

NB: Kaavya Viswanathan, Harvard plagiariser of several authors, is a law student at Georgetown.  Oh, the irony.

Eloisa James was the speaker at lunch and she was fabulous.  She writes for money, she said.  Then explained how she came to writing romance: to pay off student loans in order to grow her family.  But then she circled back to say that she earns money for her writing, but she pours out her loves, fears and dreams into her writing.  Best sellers are based on emotion more than anything.  Had most of the room in or near tears at some points.

Six Figure Deals for Debut Historical Writers
This mostly concentrated on the hook and the query letters sent by Sherry Thomas, Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare and Tracy Anne Warren.  (Note to self: buy Dare’s book.)

Caught the tail end of the workshop on "The Wit, Wisdom and Writing Advice of Jennifer Crusie".  The portion I caught was about how Crusie violates the norms, then returns to them, then violates them again for humor with examples taken from Bet Me.

Differentiating  Markets — YA and Adult
This was a very interesting workshop, and it addressed a lot of the wrong questions that writers who are thinking about changing to YA often ask.  It also addressed the fact that the two markets are hugely different (beyond just the potential readers):  different jargon, different timelines, different focuses, different royalties and advances, etc.  Your agent needs to understand these.

Key points:

  • Is your voice right for YA? Not everyone’s is.
  • YA readers are smarter than adult readers and will call you on things.
  • YA readers are savvy about marketing and will find you
  • Edgy for the sake of edgy is bad
  • The long tail is significant, with slower builds.  Ex: Ally Carter book hit NYT list 1.5  years after release because of gradual build.
  • Message books don’t work; tell a story, don’t preach.

Writer to check out:  upcoming July Harlequin Nocturne Bite about dragons.  Savage Dragon by Anna Hackett.  Met writer at Harlequin party.

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