Thursday, July 27, 2006

"This is a business"

Went to one workshop today. Haywood smith, author of Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch with St. Martin’s. Reinventing your career success. She said one thing that is very, very important. Never complain about your editor, publishing house or agent, a professional writer never complains and for God’s sake don’t put it on the internet. Because all it takes is one forwarding email and you're history. Good advice, especially in the wired age.

Interesting workshop. She wrote historicals, then “my husband got engaged to a stripper, took all our money, plus $200,000 and left me broke.” She knew she had to write something other than historicals because she was making $25,000 supplemental income, and now had to support herself. “This is a business,” she said. “Popular fiction is a marriage between art and business. We have to balance our needs with the marketplace. Publisher loyalty only lasts as long as the dollar comes in.”

“Right now there’s a recession going on and publishers are running scared and running with the tried and true.”

Don’t follow market trends, she advised. Instead follow your readers, what are their lifestyles, what kind of escape do they want? Market trends can end up with a glut of those books on the market. Everything cycles. You can write the book of your heart, if you know it will hit a chord with your readership.

What Haywood did was research baby boomers, found out 60% were divorced, like her, and she used that information to write “Queen Bee,” funny women’s fiction that struck a common element with her generation. And bingo. She also found that her most effective promotion was doing speaker talks, not booksignings. She found alternative markets by giving talks to Junior League members instead of signing at a bookstore.

More advice from her workshop: Accurately assess your interests, just because you do something well (like being good at math) doesn’t meal it’s for you. Do what works for you, what YOU do best. Pay attention to your gut when it comes to writing, your agent and editor.

Here’s a good one for everyone rushing to send manuscripts out after RWA appointments: “It’s taking a foolish chance sending a manuscript to an editor before it’s ready.” Make sure your book is ready before you send it out.

The main thing I walked away from is the advice to remember that it’s a business. It is a business. Repeat that, Bonnie. A business.

I didn’t do the rubber chicken luncheon. Pamela Clare and I were going to the luncheon, but that vast sea of people, no seats, convinced me to call Linnea, who opted out of the rubber chicken as well. We had a nice lunch and talked hair. Met some RBL ladies at the goodie room, they’re fun!

If I were to mention the big difference between attending RWA four years ago as a newly published author and now as a multi-published one, it would be that I’m less starry-eyed and more practical. Like Haywood said, it’s a business. Find what you like to write, with passion, and sprinkle in marketing savvy. And remember there’s always an element of divine providence, or luck. There are things we have no control over that can affect our careers. You have to make the most of it. And as I’m learning rapidly here, grab opportunities when they come up. Trust your instincts.

2 comments:

FerfeLaBat said...

Jesus! Way to suck the fun out of writing. I am counting on you to have fun for me while I am stuck at work. You know ... the business kind of work that actualy pays their employees enough to live on?

The RWA convention sounds hella depressing to me ...

Bonnie Vanak said...

It's not depressing. The wine is very good.

Renee Bernard's name was mentioned in the Pocket spotlight as a new and upcoming author.

Sex is hot and selling. Very hot. The more the merrier. Except women on women. Men on men are hot in erotic romance. I'm thinking of an erotic inspirational paranormal chick lit historical with serious women's fiction overtones. Oh and a really hot guy on the cover. Big biceps, you know?