Thursday, May 25, 2006

Finally! Some Answers--and I'm Not Just Talking About the "Lost" Finale!

A few weeks ago I posted one of my infamous question/answer threads, only to realize that my laptop had been fully decimated by my dropping it on the hardwood floor of my home. SO, the lovely and brilliant Diana Peterfreund stepped in to help answer, which was fine by me since she’s far more eloquent at this game than I am. 

At any rate, we’ve pulled the questions it seems that I missed, so I’m going to tackle them here:

1) Kristen Painter asked about contests, how much they mean to agents, and how often requested manuscripts fall apart after three chapters.

DEIDRE: I actually pay a good deal of attention to contest wins, particularly the important ones, say the Golden Heart, Maggie, or even non-RWA sanctioned ones. It tells me that a panel of (hopefully) skilled judges deemed this author as someone worth noting. Now, sometimes those judges were actually psycho and it means nothing, but I’ve discovered a few clients—and helped them get a publishing contract—beginning at the contest level.

But something all writers should watch out for is becoming a contest whore. In other words, don’t just put together your three chapters and submit them to 25 different contests, then start your next three chapters, wash, rinse and repeat. Really. After a while the agents and editors will figure out that you’re more about contest wins than you are about actually finishing a book. Also, like anything else with writing, don’t let it serve as a distraction; don’t obsess over scoring and comments; don’t let it consume you. Put the entries out there and move on, period. The results are not a reflection on whether you should be published or not.

2) Julie Rowe asked about whether TKA is interested in category manuscripts.

Hi, Julie! Yes, we are interested in category manuscripts, though you have to already be published for us to take a look. A long time ago I realized that the category lines were always changing, and that if I had no where else to sell a manuscript should Harlequin pass, then it wasn’t like I could help the author too much. I think it’s better to get HQ interested in your book, don’t take the offer when it comes and instead get an agent (not just us—any good agent!) to negotiate it for you. There’s a definite difference at where HQ will start an unagented author and an agented one, so don’t try and go it on your own. Plus, lines fold, times change, and use your new author career as a time to enlist the services of an agent. Don’t wait until the market winds may blow harshly in your direction—you won’t be nearly so attractive to agents then. A good agent should be worth your good AND bad times! Plus, having an agent will help the good times continue.

3) Lashaunda asked about the market for AA historicals.
So far, I just don’t see this market opening up, and it’s not just in African American that historicals are so tough—they’re tough across the board. Apart from Beverly Jenkins I’ve never seen anyone break out in this category, and for all the African American books I’ve sold, I’ve *never* placed a historical.

4)Someone asked this:
"As you cultivate your own presence on the 'net--both via your agency and as a relatively new (published, that is) author--what pros and cons have you discovered? Is there any particular advice you would give to other newly published authors? I.E. anything that seems to work especially well versus things that aren't all that useful?"

DEIDRE: I think the number one thing I would do is work to grow your newsletter list. The more people who know you, the more you get around, the more people who will be interested in your book. There are so many ways to publicize on the Net and as Marjorie M. Liu said on my panel at RT-and it’s so true! The Net is free. If you’ve got a limited budget for pr, it’s one place where you can really dig in and get to work. Blogging is free, message boards, free.

Endorsement quotes help a lot, and so does cross-promo with fellow authors.

Okay, I know I’ve probably missed a few, but I will hit those next q/a period. After RT, the Laptop Incident, and now our server switch over tonight, I feel really slammed. I’ll be back around a lot more after this week!

Best, Deidre


Anonymous Julie Rowe said...

Thanks so much for answering in such detail! It's greatly appreciated. :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006 at 11:11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Great information. You guys are the best.


Friday, May 26, 2006 at 8:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Natalie Damschroder said...

Thanks for taking the time--I know it's crazy right now!

Friday, May 26, 2006 at 10:44:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous j henley said...

wow, this is great information! Can you help me with a minor question? In your opinion is romantic suspense breaking down into sub-sub genres, like dark and adventure? or would it all still be grouped...and pitched, as rs?

Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 7:59:00 AM EDT  

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