Pre-Conference Jitters: “A Mountain Top Experience Accessible to All”

Monday Morning Music Ministry is a great blog run by Rick Marschall. In this week’s post, guest writer Barbara Haley talks about how she felt leading up to her first writers conference and the near panic that set in. conference goalsOh, how well I know that feeling! She also shares the conversation with her husband that brought her peace in regards to the conference and her writing. It was a real encouragement to me, and I hope you read it and it blesses you as well! (It applies to writers and non-writers; to anyone who is trying to serve God and sometimes gets overwhelmed or discouraged.)

A Proposal For The Rest of Us

ProposalRejection_004-wAny first time authors out there have a proposal that led to publication  they’d be wiling to share? I’m proposing the creation of a How To Write A Proposal book for the rest of us.

What do I mean?
I’m working on a proposal for a non-fiction book right now so I’m reading a book on How To Write A Book Proposal. Very good book, good tips and information, but I find myself discouraged by the sample proposals provided. This is not the first How To book (or blog) to make me feel this way.

Sample proposals tend to fall into two categories: the Do and Don’t. Category Don’t reads something like this:

I have written the best book in the history of the world. It will be a bets sellar, so jump on teh bandwagon now! I’m looking for a huge advance and my uncle works for UPS, so don’t worry about shipping. If I don’t hear from you in a few weeks, don’t worry; I’ll find you!

It’s so bad that I feel really good about my chances: I know how to use Spell Check and that I should hint at stalking the editor. Then I move on to Category Do which reads something like this:

Author speaks in 50 major cities around the country every year and has thirty years of experience in the field related to her book. She has 490,000 followers on her blog and her first two books received rave reviews and had to be reprinted because demand was so high. 

How am I supposed to compete with that? I can’t. Not yet. (Keep the hope alive, right folks!)

So I think someone should make a How To book of samples for The Rest of Us: those of us who have not yet been published, who cannot travel the country at this stage of our lives, whose platform is small but growing, and who fall somewhere between the Do and Don’t samples.  What should a proposal look like for someone like ME?

Any tips from those of you who have gone before?

 

What I Learned at a Writers Conference

Two weeks ago I attended a local(ish) writers conference. It was like entering an embassy while traveling abroad: everyone there spoke my language! POV, protagonist, proposal, pitch, platform, even Peter Piper. It was wonderful. Here are four things I learned that weekend.write his answer

  1. Bring a friend or make a friend. I’ve been to a writers conference twice by myself, but this time a friend came with me. SO fabulous! Apart from being able to share the fun and bounce ideas off of each other, having a friend gave me one unexpected advantage: confidence. We’re chatting, we’re laughing, and hey, there’s SuchAndSuch author, editor, web designer. Why don’t we go say hello? The conversation is already flowing between you, so it feels much more natural to approach the industry people you’d love to converse with.
  2. 250 business cards is a LOT of cards and handing out the first two will immediately show you the flaw in all of them. In my case, font size. I didn’t realize how small the font was until everyone I gave a card to held it at arm’s length and squinted at it through reading glasses. There’s a reason the standard font size on submissions is 12, not 10.
  3. Don’t burn your bridges when you don’t get the answer you were hoping for from an editor, agent, etc. I didn’t do this, but I had the urge and restrained myself. This year in particular I noticed how interconnected the publishing industry is. Editor A works for Publisher A, but is also an author represented by Agent B, who also represents Author C who is good friends with Editor D from Publisher D. They all know each other and your reputation can follow you – good or bad – around their circles.
  4. Talk with everyone. You will receive your best writing tips and make your best connections when you least expect it.

My last piece of advice is this: if you want to write, go to a writers conference! The experience you gain is invaluable.

A Box Of Potential

2014 July beach 026I received a batch of business cards in the mail this week. They’re my first business cards ever, for anything. I flipped open the box lid and 250 slips of paper potential stared back at me. On to distribution!

I heard that business cards are a good way to spread the word about myself and look professional doing it. It’ll be handy having the names and addresses of my blogs pre-typed because when they come up in conversation, there’s never a paper or pencil to be found.

They will be especially useful at church. My healthy living blog is called Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating. When I mention that blog at church, people’s eyes get big and they tend to stop listening after the word sex. When the shock wears off, they’ll have my card.

Those of you with business card experience, do you have any do or don’t tips for me? Any interesting stories related to your own Box of Potential?

The Great Joy Of Blogging

2014 June 005I recently received yet another rejection for one of my novels. I can usually brush them off and console myself by prattling off the names of famous authors whose rejection slips numbered in the double digits before they were finally published. “If they can do it, so can I!” I tell myself. But for some reason, I just couldn’t shake the uncertainty, the doubt, the woe-is-me-I’m-at-the-bottom-of-the-totem-pole attitude.

Then I got an email from someone who said they enjoyed reading my blog.

Really?

Well, that changes everything!

I don’t know why, but that snapped me out of my melancholy. One of the greatest joys of writing is having other people read what you write and like it. I may not have a book in print yet, but I’m getting a taste of that sharing-my-writing joy through my blogs.

I may be on the bottom of the totem pole, but my animal mask is smiling!

Write What You Love Or Write What Sells?

2014 blog 006Should you write what you love or write what sells?

After eight years of writing novels, I still don’t know the answer to that question. I wish I did.

I love science fiction and fantasy and the first novel I wrote was a fantasy, but when I went to sell it six years ago, I heard the same thing over and over from Christian publishers: “Hmm, you write pretty well, but we don’t do fantasy. Do you have any romance novels?”

So I started writing romance novels.

With the exception of Jane Austin, I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, but I started reading my way through the romance gauntlet: contemporary, historical, Amish, suspense. I tried to analyze why I liked or didn’t like each book and used that information to write romance novels that I enjoy. I like writing romance, but I’m still waiting to see if my take on the genre will attract a publisher.

Last year at a writers conference I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were several Christian publishers looking at fantasy! Romance is still King, but the other genres are starting to grow.

So do I write what I love and hope it sells? Or do I write what sells in a way I love?

Have any of you answered this question? What conclusions did you come to and why/how?