Marciaís Romantically Yours
Issue # 40
marcia king-gamble

Dear Romance Writers,

Itís already mid-summer and time is flying by way too fast. Itís been an exciting few months for me. There have been a few unsettling events but even so I have managed to survive, and even laugh about it.

Iíve decided to devote this monthís newsletter to the medicinal effects of laughter. When life doesnít turn out the way we want it humor is the only way to cope. Laughter works better than prescription drugs. Those with a sense of humor are said to be far more attractive and live longer than the average Joan. Would you rather be around someone who makes you laugh or someone who brings you down? Now thatís a no brainer.

 

Hereís a humorous thought. This August I am celebrating another 29th birthday and I intend to do it in style. Itís also the month when my new action adventure, Meet Phoenix will be in the stores. This fast paced tale is set in Tibet and I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I fell in love with my hero. He is everything I like in a man.

Not that my heroine is a woman to turn your nose up at. My heroines are usually all strong, capable women that take no guff. Phoenix, my heroine, is true to form. She is used to holding her own in a male dominated world, and is commissioned by the Tibetan government to restore a priceless Buddha. Phoenixís independence has created conflict in the past with her lover. Now Damon is back and with her in Tibet. Can the two resolve their differences and work peaceably to clear her fatherís name? Be sure to pick up a copy of Meet Phoenix to find out.

What else is going on in my world? I leave for San Francisco and the Romance Writersí annual conference in just a few days. A trip to wine country is also on my calendar. By the time you receive my next newsletter Iíll have lots to tell you.

Meanwhile keep laughing! Laughter heals.

Marcia King-Gamble
Editor -- Romantically Yours
http://www.lovemarcia.com/


Tools of the Trade

Linda Conrad is a Waldenbooks Best Seller and a frequent contributor to Marciaís Romantically Yours. This popular romance writer is one of the savviest business people I know. Writing is a business and youíre as good as your last sale. With almost thirty books to her credit itís safe to say Linda has mastered the art of the business. Read below for tips on how to pitch your manuscript to an agent/editor. For more about Linda log onto http://www.lindaconrad.com/

Master Pitching
The fine art of getting your prose published by selling it in person
By: Linda Conrad

Bummer!

Youíve spent many months (or years) getting your novel finished, only to discover the hard work has just begun. Now you must find and convince a publisher that your manuscript is worth putting into print. Huh?

Yes. The truth is, even though you are the one in a thousand who actually manages to complete a manuscript, your novel still may never have a chance to appear on the shelves.

First, an editor from a publishing company has to actually read your work, agree that it fits with her companyís guidelines and then offer you a contract for it. But editors are some of the busiest professionals around and many refuse to accept unsolicited manuscripts. Mailing them a copy of your book only means they probably will return it unread. So what do you do?

You have to learn to be a salesman, selling your own work. In the romance industry itís called pitching your book.

Pitching a book means you may be selling your manuscript either in person or on paper. And you may be selling to either an editor or an agent, or to both.

If you are pitching on paper, itís called a Query Letter. Thereís been lots written on the subject of how best to write a Query. Here I will simply advise that a Query letter is to be in business language and should never be more than one single-spaced typewritten page.

Pitching in person is the subject of this article. We are the lucky ones in the romance writing world in that we have a myriad of opportunities to attend local conferences and workshops where publishers send their editors. These editors are specifically looking for new authors. So, if you see that the editor or agent you would like to target will be attending a nearby conference, find out if the conference will be offering appointments. Most do. Get your name on the list for an appointment early.

I know you are thinking that you are not a salesman, and how will you ever convince anyone to buy your book. But that is just the point. You will never convince anyone to publish your book. Instead, your wonderful book will do the convincing for you.

Your job during a Ďpitchí is to convince an agent or editor to read your manuscript. Thatís all. The only thing you want to accomplish during an appointment is for the editor to say the magic words; Send me your manuscript. @

I recently attended a conference where unpublished authors were discouraged when they learned their appointments with a certain editor were going to be held in a group. They knew by the time allotted for the entire group appointment that they would never get a chance to tell their individual stories to the editor. Actually, they were very lucky. The appointment had been scheduled for late in the day and the editor was exhausted. She came in, introduced herself and then told everyone to send her their synopsis and the first three chapters. No one had to talk at all. They automatically got what they came for. A little advice for pitching in person; prepare in advance. You do not want to stand out in the editor or agentís mind as the one who was unprepared and rambled on. More on rambling on in a moment.

Take some time before the conference to write down a few succinct sentences about your book on a note card. Every one is nervous, and no editor would mind if you read a couple of lines on the bookís premise rather than droned on and on from memory.

Try to narrow your bookís plot down to one or two lines. Sounds impossible? Pick up a Sunday newspaper TV listing or the TV Guide magazine. Those little two line blurbs are good examples of how it can be done for shows and movies. Do that for your own book. You will probably only have five minutes at an editor appointment and being able to tell her the set-up for your story in two lines will be invaluable.

Here is one I used: My book is a short contemporary of 50,000 words, featuring an amnesiac undercover agent hero turned cowboy on a Texas ranch B with a hidden baby.

Short, but concise.

Now, look at that line again. What are the most important points? The most important point in the editorís viewpoint was the fact that the book was a short contemporary. Immediately, she knew how it might fit in at her publishing house. The most important point in my viewpoint was letting her know that I knew the value of a romance hook.

After that one line, I just shut up and waited to see what she would say. What do you think was the one and only question she asked me? Is the book complete?

Happily, it was. I sent it in and it became my first published novel.

So, when the big day comes, how do you start? With a smile.

I am constantly amazed at how long editors and agents will remember a face from an appointment that may have happened years earlier. And whose faces do you think they remember the most? The smiling ones.

Walk right in, smile and introduce yourself. Another good idea I've learned along the way is to make up a few business cards before you show up at the conference. They are fairly easy to do yourself with a computer and a set of ready-to-make cards. Just your name, address and telephone number are sufficient. On the back, in big bold letters, print the title of the book you will be pitching.

Okay, so how should the appointment really go? After you have smiled, introduced yourself and given her your card, say something like: Iím very nervous. But I have written a 50,000 word short contemporary novel that would be perfect for your Silhouette Desire line. May I tell you the premise?

Right off the bat you have: 1) placed the editor on your side (everyone feels sympathy with being nervous) and 2) you have established yourself as someone who knows what type of books the editor may be looking for, and you have done your homework by reading the line and matching your novel to their guidelines.

Advice on pitching in person: Dress as conservatively as your wardrobe will allow (no jeans, shorts or costumes) Be cordial and enthusiastic but never interrupt or presume the editor or agent wants to speak to you outside of the appointment itself. Do not get so nervous that you forget to listen to what she is saying.

Remember, the whole point of the appointment is for the editor or agent to say, ďSend me your manuscript (or proposal.)Ē When that happens, thank her and leave. Do not un-sell your book. Unfortunately, I have seen people so bent on telling their whole story (which is not at all appropriate for these appointments) that they totally miss the fact that within two minutes, they got what they came for. Once you hear the magic words, stop talking. The over-worked editor or agent will thank you for it and remember you kindly when they are reading your book.

One final thing: Editors and agents complain that most of the time when they have asked to see a manuscript in an appointment setting, the writers never send it to them. Really!

Donít waste your big opportunity. Have your work ready to send out before the appointment and then be sure to mail it with the words: REQUESTED MATERIAL on the front of the envelope.

Good luck! And Iíll look forward to reading your book when it hits the stands!


 

Beverly Jenkins is our guest author this month. This popular down to earth bestseller arrived on the scene fourteen years ago. In a short time she made the world aware of the contributions African Americans made to our history. Beverly is considered a historical writer but has written contemporary romantic suspense novels as well. For more about Beverly log onto BeverlyJenkins.net. Now sit back and enjoy her interview.

Interview with Beverly Jenkins:

RY:Would you say being a journalism and English Literature major helped in your quest to get published?
BJ: I believe being an avid reader helped me more than anything else. Iím of the philosophy that the writer who reads the most wins, especially if you read across genres.

RY:Who are some of your favorite authors and what impact did they have on your writing?
BJ: I read everything. Presently, Iím hooked on Jim Butcher whose Dreden series is amazing. Iíve also discovered Rick Riordan. His Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is looking to be the next Harry Potter. Iíve also just discovered Judith Smith ĖLevin. She writes about a Black female homicide detective named Starletta Duvall. Reading outside of the romance genre keeps the muse fresh.

RY:How many books have you written to date? Which is your favorite so far and why?
BJ: Gosh. 22? I think.

RY:Which of the many awards youíve won meant the most to you? Why?
BJ: The ones that mean the most are the Emmas given at Romance Slam Jam mainly because the awards are FUBU Ė for us, by us.

RY:How do you prepare yourself to write? Do you need music and a quiet place? Whatís your inspiration?
BJ:I wish I did have a set routine, but I donít. I simply write either when the spirit moves me or because Iím on a deadline. Deadlines are the best motivators out there. My children are grown and gone so my daughterís old bedroom is now my office and the silence is great. I prefer classic rock when I write: Zeppelin, Hendrix, Joplin etc because of the energy and Iím old rocker. Love R&B as well but canít write to it. Tried it early in my career then realized Iíd written the lyrics to the Luther song I was listening to as opposed to the story. So I had to back away from the R&B.

RY:Is there a particular story youíve been dying to write? Can you share it with us?
BJ: Iím dying to write Rhine Fontaineís story. Heís the brother of my heroine from Through the Storm. Heís so angered and frustrated by the limitations put on men of color after the Civil War that he decides to pass for White in an effort to help the race.

RY:Do you have a favorite kind of hero or heroine? Why?
BJ:I like my women strong and my men supportive because in my world thatís the way a relationship should be.

RY:Youíve done an incredible job of educating the reader as to the role blacks played in American history? Why was sharing our history so important to you?
BJ: Because the more we know about each other the better off this country can be. The US built its economic clout on the blood, sweat and backs of African captives Ė roughly 3.5 million when the civil war began. The race both slave and free played a significant role in this nationís formation and progress from colonial times on but history books rarely reflect that. My books offer a unique way of learning about those missing pieces of the multi-cultural quilt that is American history.

RY:If Beverly Jenkins wasnít writing what would she be doing?
BJ: Working in a library. I LOVE books.

RY:What encouragement would you give to pre-published writers?
BJ: Finish the book. Stop talking about the being a writer and be a writer.

RY:How do you stay motivated in a business where youíre as good as your last sales numbers?
BJ:The incredible numbers of stories inside me. Even if I wasnít being published I would still write.

RY:If you had three adjectives to describe a successful writer what would they be?
BJ: 1. Well read. 2. Determined. 3. Thick- skinned. One has to be #3 to deal with the myriad of folks posing and posturing as critics.

RY:Do you have a publicist? If so what benefits can a publicist provide? How can fans contact you?
BJ:I do not employ a publicist. I rely on the great folks at Harper/Collins, my fans and myself to get the word out. Readers can contact me at: mailto:www.indigo@beverlyjenkins.net


Happenings:

    Workshop with Gayle Wilson
    Date: September 27, 2008
    Sponsor: Vancouver Island Chapter
    Location: Dunsmuir Lodge, Sidney, BC, Canada
    Fee: $ 75.00
    Contact: http://www.vocrwa.ca/

    Moonlight & Magnolias
    Date: October 3-5, 2008
    Sponsor: Georgia Romance Writers
    Location: Hilton Atlanta Northeast, Norcross, GA
    Fee: $180-$200
    Keynote: Teresa Medeiros

    Emerald City Writers Conference
    Date: October 10-12, 2008
    Sponsor: Greater Seattle RWA
    Location: Bellevue Hilton, Bellevue, WA
    Fee: $229 (early bird discount)
    Keynote: Julia Quinn

    Lone Star Writers Conference
    Date: October 25, 2008
    Sponsor: NW Houston RWA
    Location: Spring, TX
    Fee: $99-$120
    Speaker: Patricia Kay


Whoís Acquiring

    Kimani Press

    The newest Harlequin Imprint is looking for African American Romances. Stories should not exceed 70,000 words. Kimani is looking for character driven stories that are hip and hot. Unpredictable plots and satisfying endings will get you noticed.
    Submit to:
    Kimani Romance
    c/o Kelli Martin, Senior Editor
    Kimani Press
    233 Broadway, Suite 1001
    New York, NY 10279

    Harlequin Historical Undone:

    Join the newest member of the Harlequin family.
    Word length - 10,000 Ė 15,000 words.
    Format - e book.
    Senior Editor- Linda Fildew
    High level of sensuality required.
    Submit complete manuscripts via e mail to undone@harlequin.ca


    Did You Know?

    Mills & Boon celebrates its 100th birthday this year. I grew up on Mills & Boon so that makes me older than dirt. These books are published in 94 countries and translated into more than two dozen languages. Mills and Boon publishes 60 romance novels a month and employs 1300 writers.

    Happy Birthday Mills & Boon! Thank you for your many years of providing satisfying stories.


    * ABOUT Marciaís ROMANTICALLY YOURS *

    Romantically Yours is a FREE monthly newsletter. I would love to hear from you. Please send comments, news, research, or story ideas directly to Marcia King-Gamble at mkinggambl@aol.com