Please Keep your hands inside the car

at all times

 

 

First appeared as an RWA PRO-ORG Class Bootcamp--Part 4 Q&A.

My apologies some of the questions are pertinent to more than one section are repeated.

    General Q&A

    Social Media Q&A

    Agents and Editors, Q&A with Angi

    Agent, Jill Marsal Q&A

    Editor, Allison Lyon Q&A

 

~~ ~~ ~~ GENERAL QUESTIONS~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

SARA's QUESTION: My question is more of a personal one concerning your process. Now that you have an agent and a editor, do you still use critique partners or groups? 

ANSWER: YES! I discovered a couple of things about myself in the past year. I'm an audible plotter. I have to bounce ideas off of other writers who understand you don't go with the first idea. AND I'm what I call a slayer. I have to slay (fix) problems that crop us AS they crop up. I can't move too far ahead if there's something nagging at me. I hope to use CPs (maybe in different ways), but I also have a lot of "repayment" to take care of.  >>big grin<<

 

SARA's QUESTION: Also, does your agent fully edit your work before it goes to the editor or does she send it as is to the editor?

ANSWER:  Jill asked what *I* wanted. And I like for her to read through my work, especially the synopsis/proposal. My first agent, sent it directly to the editors.

 

SARA's COMMENTS: I ask because I use critiques partners and my agent only does "light" editing, but if I had to have a book completely finished and ready to go in nine weeks, I'm not sure I could do it. I'm sure I could complete a rough draft in that length of time, but that would be about it. I couldn't have it polished.

ANSWER:  HONESTLY, I was scared to death when I said yes to the contract on .38 Caliber Cover-Up. I took several months to revise Hill Country Holdup. "WHAT WAS I THINKING?" There were many many times I told myself I was crazy and many times my CPs had to assure me (while I was in tears) that it was a good book.

 

When you sign with an agent, it's important to verify how much editing, feedback, input that you (as the writer) expect. AND that the agent wants to give. And given the circumstances that might change when additional help is needed. It's important to feel you CAN change and that your agent rolls with the punches. My first agent didn't give feedback. Maybe a suggestion or two...but that was it. Here again, I'm a classic neurotic writer who needs constant assurance that I'm headed in the write direction. LOL  I signed with Jill after Hill Country Holdup was at Harlequin. Not much input needed. After the dust settled, we had a conversation and she asked ME how much input I wanted. She's even offered to listen to me bounce ideas around.

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NAN’S COMMENTS & QUESTION: My agent and I are always bouncing ideas around. I sometimes feel compelled to write those and I feel I fall short. How, do you keep the balance between good ideas and what you want to write vs what you agent gives you and she might know what is going down in the publishing world. How, I guess, do you keep the balance and not seem ungrateful?
BEST ANSWER: Confidence in yourself. (Confidence that you normally don’t have as an unpublished or even a newly published author.)

 

THE REAL ANSWER: Gosh, darn it. I wish there were an easy answer. You have to trust yourself. Just remember: your agent took you on as a client based off of an idea that she had nothing to do with (your first submitted work). So somewhere back there, she trusted your instincts.

 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ll just mention that I verbally pitch much much better than sending a written synopsis. Jill & Allison agree that my synopsis writing is rather ...lacking. >>grin<<  My CPs will come right out and tell you that I pretty much suck at it. LOL  So bouncing ideas is a much better direction for me to go with them both. For my third idea, I had a conversation with my agent first who set up a phone call with my editor. I gave all the ideas to her...she asked questions, and asked to combine the single story idea I had with the series idea. Allison liked all the ideas, but chose the one she thought would work best right now. It’s been hard, but it was the project *I* wanted too.

 

THIS IS A BUSINESS: Bottom line. Your agent and editor have experience that you draw from and need to utilize. BUT BUT BUT, you still have to be passionate about your characters, your story, your words! No matter what the idea, it will always turn into your story! 

 

ADVICE: Make up your mind you want to be a part of this business and do what it takes to sell. And to sell again. Every book I write is from my heart--if it isn’t, I’m not emotionally attached to it. So please don’t take my next statement wrong. But I guarantee you...if it means the next sell, I can write about anything.

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KERRY’s QUESTION: If you were shopping a first manuscript, would you go for the big publishers first, or get your foot in the door at a smaller e-pub? 

PERSONAL CHOICE: Kerry, there is no right or wrong answer here. I could have sold to an e-press many times, but it was my personal choice to ‘hang tough’ and wait for Harlequin to say yes. It took a while, but that was MY dream, completely right for me. I’ve wanted to write for Harlequin since I was a teenager.

 

RESEARCH! RESEARCH! AND MORE RESEARCH!

·     Where’s the best fit for your manuscript?

·     What’s going to benefit your writing style?

·     Do you need control over your creativity, your rights?

·     Where do you think the market is headed and does that publisher have a good handle where it’s headed?

·     Have you thought about where you see yourself and what road is the BEST one for you to take?

Remember...I never claimed to have all the answers, but I can give you a list of questions to point you in the right direction.

 

KERRY’s QUESTION: Are “smaller” contests worth it? Do they (smaller contests) really open doors?

SHORT ANSWER: YES !  Hill Country Holdup is a sale off the 2009 Daphne du Maurier win.

LONG ANSWER: WOO HOO... I love to answer this question, but I’m going to have to manage my time. I have blogged about subject this past year and I’m sending Gwen the article.  She can post it in the file section so everyone has an opportunity to see the “journey” of Hill Country Holdup the year it sold. It’s interesting. And I disclose comments and scores.

 

SPECIFIC TO THE QUESTION RE: SMALLER CONTESTS? Any contest where the finalists are ranked by a publishing editor is not a “small” contest. If the odds are in your favor to get in front of an editor because there are fewer entries...my advice is to go for it.

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MARTIE’S QUESTION: You were discussing proposals. How closely do your editors hold you to the proposal you send for your second book and third books?

SHORT ANSWER: I hear all the time that authors submit very lose plots and their editors expect them to deviate. Haven’t gotten to the third book for myself...but since I’m a complete and total pantser who hates knowing the end of a book before I write it (what’s the fun in that?). I expect I’ll deviate from time to time. Now regarding my second book...

 

LONG ANSWER: ...funny story along these lines. As I said in DAY ONE, I seem to get stuck slaying the problems along the way. And while writing .38 Caliber, I had a big one.

 

You see, this manuscript wasn’t “rejected” but --okay, technically the proposal was rejected. Jill got the phone call and basically told Allison that we could address her concerns and send revisions. That was on a Wednesday. I spent all evening coming up with 6 different ways I could change things. Thursday morning I spoke with Jill, began the fourth or fifth idea and she stopped me, “Angi, they love the book. You just need to change the villain.” Much less complicated. So I did. Thursday. Jill resubmitted on Friday. They bought the book 18 days later.

 

And here’s the problem. Making changes that fast, I had no way of knowing what complications would arise with motivation and the lose plot I’d given them. Half-way through the book, I slayed my dragon beast and went a different direction. Much better story. I was typing along on page 195 (out of approximately 220) and said, “So you’re the villain.” Jill loved the book. One CP actually said, “How did you surprise me? I’ve plotted every chapter with you.”  BUT (to answer your question) the second half of the book wasn’t ANYthing like the original synopsis storyline.

 

Allison didn’t ask for revisions. So as long as the story’s good and they get the basic story they purchased--hero-centric, heroine in jeopardy, on-the-run, hot air balloon, romance--I think they’re happy.

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Deb writes I have a question for Allison. If I submit to Intrigue as an unagented, unpublished writer, which I plan to in about a month, how important is the query and synopsis since we're sending the completed manuscript? Do they actually look at the manuscript or make a decision to read or not to read based on the synopsis? As you can tell, I'm in panic mode about writing a synopsis. Every one I've tried to write is so lame compared to the real story.

 

Got it ready to pass along. My best advice about your synopsis is to give it to someone who doesn't know the story and see if they have questions. A good rule of thumb about writing a suspense synopsis is to write the four turning points, black moment, and ending...and hold them all together with emotion. You can do it. You've already finished the hard part.

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SANDY’S QUESTION: Does Harlequin ever take novels of 90,000 to 98,000 words?  

ANSWER: I’m going to let you do that research: eHarlequin.com 

 

ADVICE:  If you’d like to write for Harlequin, you should become aware of the eHarlequin & Carina Press communities.  Navigating is sometimes challenging...but necessary to learn if you’re a Harlequin author. (I only mention Harlequin because after April of this year, all Silhouette lines will then be Harlequin.) The same is true with any publisher you'd like to write for.

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STACEY’S QUESTION: Do you have any sure-fire steps to speed up self-revision?
EASY ANSWER: Nope.

That being said, I will admit that the women who read my work each have unique things they focus on. My focus is always on detail. Too much, too little, why are they doing that, repetitive words, and plot holes. I have one CP who can take one pass at my stuff and seems to know instantly why my characters feel they way they do and how it’s affecting their emotions. Sheeze, *I* don’t know that, how can she? LOL

 

I do have one tip about final edits: I learned as a newspaper typesetter to read the manuscript backwards. Last page (top to bottom); previous to last page (top to bottom); etc. This process helps break up the flow of the manuscript, making it more difficult for YOU to fall into the story you are either very proud of, or you’re very sick of by that point. You can also do this a chapter at a time, each line on the page backwards. It helps you to find mistakes that our eyes easily glance over.

 

Thanks and I wish there were a better answer.

I know there are workshops and articles with lots of tips... but the Bottom line is that you have to find a system that works for you.

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Angi said: So when I sold to Intrigue...I needed appropriate completely NEW ideas.

 

JULIANNE’S CURIOUS: Couldn't you tweak the single title idea to fit Intrigue's lines? Why not? I woulda thought it'd be just a matter of size, but of course, what do I know?

ANSWER:  Keep in mind that none of my single titles sold. LOL  I also have a Scottish time travel series which nearly sold--so a lot of work went into that 4 book proposal. There are ST ideas that can fit into an Intrigue. Honestly, the biggest comparison difference in Intrigue and ST is the secondary plots. Some story ideas just don’t work without ‘em. And in Intrigue, there just isn’t enough space with only 55,000 words.

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PREFACE: As always, each individual writer and story is in a unique situation. Please keep that in mind with all my answers.

 

JACLYN’S QUESTION: Do you suggest the unpublished writer obtain an agent or query the publisher directly?

ANSWER: I sincerely think that you should do both. If you can get your BEST work in front of agents and editors, you should. Some publishers will only work or review agented material.  


 

~~ ~~ ~~ SOCIAL MEDIA ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

 

KYLIE’S QUESTION: When you talk about being reserved with social media, are you referring to the marketing aspect or personal use side of it?

ANSWER: I’m going to hit on the maddening, time-consuming monster of Social Media more on Tuesday. But to clarify: both. Because your time as a writer is a special commodity and you have to decide where you use it.

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NANCY: I don’t have a problem with putting up a website and I’m lucky to have a kid who can be my guru.

I’m blessed with a husband that doesn’t mind spending hours designing a book trailer or “brand” or bookmarks. If it hadn’t been for him...whew...I’d be screaming taking this first plunge instead of enjoying the thrill of it.

 

NANCY’s QUESTION: Is there a way to market my work once it’s published (I’m thinking positive here!) without having to be deeply involved in social networking?

ANSWER: I really don’t believe so. But there’s always the exception. I would never give a definitive yes or no. LOL 

 

NANCY’s CONCERN: I am not a social media person at all and I’m wondering if I need to become one if I’m going to be a romance author. But I’m a little worried that I’m going to have to do the FB thing and the Twitter thing and that’s just not who I am.

ANSWER: I have an entire list of questions for you guys. Questions and no concrete answers. But my advice, Nancy, is to take time and learn what you want, what you’re capable of, and how much time you want to spend on it...NOW. Do not wait until you sell to learn about Facebook.

More on the subject to come.

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Betty, since you’re targeting single title publishers (and I assume many here are), I thought I’d go to a colleague of mine who writes both Single Title and category. I thought her professional experience with Harlequin, Berkley, Kensington and Samhain would be of value to everyone.

 

She has lots of experience juggling deadlines with January & February Intrigue releases. For more about HelenKay Dimon...please visit her website: http://helenkaydimon.com/  Here’s HelenKay !

 

Betty,  It's smart to think about this issue now.  It's really a career planning question, and it's never too early to plan. 

 

BETTY’S QUESTION: How quickly do editors/agents expect the next book to be ready?

HELENKAY’S ANSWER: The reality is some publishers will try to push you for more releases per year in order to get your name out there.  It's a nice problem to have, and while it makes sense, it has to be a practical schedule for you.  It's one of those times where you have to take control from the beginning and be realistic about what you can produce and how often. Don't compare your writing production to your friends' production.  That is tempting.  But trust me, you will drive yourself nuts if you try to map your career by someone else's.  Stick to what you know you can do.  Be willing to push yourself, yes, but don't tie yourself to some schedule that's not doable.  More than a few authors have gotten into trouble making deadline promises they then couldn't deliver. A failure to make deadlines is a huge problem.  Better to have one release per year than over-promise and have production crash your book (rush it through production).  You don't want your publisher to see you as that author, the one who is always late.

 

BETTY’S QUESTION: Is the expectation any different between category romance and single title as to turn-around?

HELENKAY’S ANSWER: One benefit in writing women's fiction is a slightly less pressured deadline schedule.  Where Harlequin series editors try to get you to write at least three books per year so you can build your name in a line, and single title romance would like at least two, women's fiction appears to work well in a one-book-per-year schedule.  This isn't uniform in publishing houses, of course, but it seems to be true in general terms.

 

BETTY’S QUESTION: How do I juggle writing time with deadlines and a full-time job and family obligations?

HELENKAY’S ANSWER: As far as fitting it all in, the answer is probably what you thought it would be: you have to make the time.  Writing has to be a priority.  Again, there's good news. Being busy sometimes makes you more productive.  For example, I found that I got more done - was actually more productive and smarter with my time - when I practiced law full-time and wrote two books a year.  I now teach at two colleges (which is actually far less time consuming than my old career) and write four books per year, and I waste so much time.  Seems to me you're already writing and finding time with everything else going on, so you can do it.  It's scary but you've already proven your writing matters to you and that's huge.

 

And, finally, I'm so happy you're so positive.  You should be.   Keep working and believe in yourself.  You can absolutely do it!

 

Thanks,

HelenKay

 

www.helenkaydimon.com

GUNS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (Harlequin Intrigue, Jan. 2011)

GUNNING FOR TROUBLE (Harlequin Intrigue, Feb. 2011)

VICTORIA'S GOT A SECRET (HCI True Vows, March 2011)

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HI JOY -- Hope I explained further in DAY TWO: LOOPEE LOOPS. But thought I’d add my #1 distraction that always derails my best intentions.

 

JOY’S QUESTION: What are your suggestions for managing, prioritizing and organizing all of it (social media, loops, writing)?

ANSWER: Great question. I wish there were an easy answer. IF YOU discover an easy formula, please send it to me.

 

In all seriousness. The more I set myself a schedule, the more life seems to be thrown in my way and I’m “off” schedule. Take yesterday. I was going to write between questions for the class. My husband has a flexible schedule. He was expecting a package for the office this weekend, so he had it delivered to the house. Ooops...office manager didn’t schedule a Saturday delivery, delayed him, he waits on the package this morning.

    And yes, he talks to me. Lucky me. (Seriously, I enjoy his company.) But I’m unable to write.

    He promises he’s going to the office. Never does. No writing, too many “nice” distractions.

    LIFE. My number 1 distraction for everything.

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HI JULIANNE. You’re in a very fortunate place and yet, I find it to be one of the hardest. As HelenKay mentioned, I think it’s easier to write more when I’m at my busiest. And sometimes, working at home allows me to be completely distracted.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA is a general term that I think you understand well. But for clarity, the term for writers is beginning to encompass all forms of Media promotion. If I understand correctly, it also pertains to personal socializing on our phones, laptops, PCs, Macs, Netbooks, whatever electronic device you use to connect with others.

 

JULIANNE’S QUESTION: What time do I spend online socializing? Can you say too much?

ANSWER: Absolutely. I CAN say too much. And it’s the same answer for me. I fear that some authors miss deadlines because they get distracted by socializing. And when you’re promoting? The distraction is very easy to justify.

JULIANNE’S QUESTION: It seems to make more sense to blog about your book after you know it's going to be viable or at least coming soon, in my greedy little "must have said book now", reader's eyes. Since I don't have an agent or a publishing company with whom I've really signed (yet), what's the point of the social networking, especially if *knock on wood* I might never see a yes letter or contract?

ANSWER: Actually, I disagree. It makes better sense to establish good habits before you’re under the stress of having to learn, to cope, to deal with the pressure of a second, third, fourth sale. It makes perfect sense to learn these skills and have a recognizable product (YOUR NAME) PRIOR to actually selling.

 

MY JUSTIFICATION: There are so many shortcuts connecting Facebook, blogs, Twitter, websites... (I even took a course) that save huge amounts of time. But honestly, I’ve been busy writing and I haven’t been able to take the time to LEARN. A friend of mine admitted that when she connected her blog and Facebook (even with step-by-step instructions) it took two days and she broke down in tears (this is something I’m not looking forward to).

 

So yes, LEARN now.

Develop your habits NOW.

Set timers. Be firm with yourself.

YOU are the only person you’re cheating.

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WOW tough question, leaving a lot more questions. But I’m taking a shot based off my observations and personal experience.

 

KATE’S QUESTION: Have you had any issues with or know another writer who has faced being unable to identify themselves as a romance writer? If so, where can I turn for advice? 

PERSONAL ANSWER: You may have noticed that I write under a pseudonym, but it’s not because I need anonymity. Mine was because I didn’t find my husband’s last name flattering. And actually, for thirty years have not been able to master a pretty “P” in my signature. Laugh. It seems silly, but it’s true. I chose MORGAN in honor of my mother’s family. The last name has no male descendant and I wanted to carry it forward in a small way. It also fit into the middle of the alphabet. Which is where I wanted to sit at book signings. (I’ve worked several--LOL)

 

KATE’S QUESTION: Or should I just set all these social media sites up under my pseudonym?

MY OPINION: Yes. As I stated in my LOOPEE LOOPS post, it’s important to establish yourself for an easy promotion transition. And honestly, it’s very frustrating not knowing who’s sending you an email. “NeedAHotGuy2011@hotmail.com” isn’t very professional. (Cute, but would you really want to submit to an editor with that email address on your stationary?)

 

So my advice is to jump on the coaster and choose a name your comfortable with. Comfortable signing, being referred to at book signings and is available as a URL and email address. And don’t forget to grab ALL the free emails.

 

FOR REFERENCE:

Hi, Angi!  Thanks so much for doing this class.  I'm not sure if you'd know this, but thought I'd give it a shot since you brought up websites, Facebook, and Twitter.  I'm hearing more and more that I need to be involved in these before I even get an agent.  I had hoped that social media would come AFTER I got a publisher or at least an agent (I know, silly me! I'm new at this).

 

The trouble is that I currently write in a "romantically-challenged" industry that would frown upon my writing steamy sex scenes, and it's a little hard to ditch a 15-year career till something else is paying the mortgage.  So I had thought I would simply use a pseudonym -- but that an agent would be the one to tell me how to go about setting it up properly (or legally, if need be -- I'm clueless here). 

 

Have you had any issues with this or known another writer who has faced this -- and if so, where did you turn for advice?  Or should I just set all these social media sites up under my pseudonym?

 

Many thanks and congratulations on your success!

 

Kate

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Pseudonyms--Now or later?

 

Again, *I* don’t have the answers, but I have an opinion. That’s it. I have friends who have experience and need separate writing lives. Understand that if you’re a writer and you chose to have a pseudonym and you never want anyone to connect your personal life with your writer life. You will forgo book signings, public appearances, etc. That’s a personal choice. Some need it for very very legitimate reasons. My friends know this.

 

Some of us chose a pseudonym for simple marketing purposes as I mentioned before. And some of my friends have a pseudonym for the different genres they right.

 

NOT LEGAL ADVICE --A WORD OF CAUTION: Make certain that when you sign a contract you pseudonym is your property. In other words, the publisher does not retain the right to continue publishing with that name when you decide to no longer write for them. This isn’t a huge problem any longer (I don’t believe). It was a huge milestone for RWA when this was removed from contracts.

 

JOANNA’S QUESTION: I don't see how to keep your real name & your public names separate. It seems that people are eventually going to link the two, anyway, and what if you have already begun on the web prior to publication?

THERE IS NO SIMPLE ANSWER: If you need to have a complete separate identity to write which is very legitimate, there are ways and different degrees. You’re right Joanna...most names can be connected. It just depends on how diligent the person looking is. I have to/want to believe that most fans and readers will just accept your writing name. We do live in a “different” world though.

 

JOANNA’S QUESTION: What if you began Facebook with real data; you can't retreat, can you, and erase the trail? For the life of me I can't see how to do it. Can you give a 1-2-3 process? Or can you tell us how to reverse what we've done?
ANGI’S TECH HUSBAND: Fortunately, doesn’t mind taking care of problems like this, THAT IS--IF I had one. I don’t mind people knowing my real last name. My husband just recently began thinking further down the road, playing the WHAT IF games of fame (yes, I love him). But he cautioned me to try to keep the personal friends/family separate from the fans/readers/unknown friends.  I mention this to you guys because NOW’s the time to think of that...not after you have 500 friends under your real name on Facebook or Twitter.

 

BUT I BELIEVE there is a way to only have your real name show for the Facebook management. I spoke to one friend who has a separate persona. Facebook only requires a phone number. Think about this: you can pick up a prepay phone to get a phone number. Okay, that’s as far as I’m taking my suspense-minded thoughts.

 

‘CALL ME PARANOID’ STATEMENT: Regarding social media, just call me paranoid.  I want to add a word of caution.  Be aware of what social media will do for your online presence.  You will become searchable via Google etc. 
 

YES, BUT: Each author has to make a decision about the extent of Internet presence. How much time is spent on promotion, how much to hide our identity, what identity to use.

 

I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS...if this affects you, YOU must find a way to find whatever information you need to resolve YOUR problem.

 

I can clarify why someone needs to use a pseudonym. I believe the more common reason: Family & friends.

Some of us have jobs that would frown on the writing we do. Evocative writing or just a second job. A family member who may be offended or their co-workers would frown.  For whatever reason, if the need is there, there are basic ways to have a public presence on the Internet that the “normal” fan or friend won’t find. There are legal ways to create a company for your writing persona. There are legal ways to have a professional name. Research and find whatever you need to do.

 

For the person who has a more serious problem. Extremes are probably needed. No if’s ands or buts about this. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself.

 

Not certain any of THIS helped, but this class was to get you thinking about what you need to take care of BEFORE you publish. And if you’re THINKING about how much exposure you want...then I guess I’ve accomplished something.

 

EXPERIENCE:

If you'd like to erase your trail on the web, wiping out references to you on the various social media sites you can use a an information scrubbing program. My favorite is the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine: http://suicidemachine.org/

 

HTH,

Rachel

www.rachelgraves.com

 
FOR REFERENCE:

Regarding social media, just call me paranoid.  I want to add a word of caution.  Be aware of what social media will do for your online presence.  You will become searchable via google etc. 

Personally, I never use my legal name anywhere for social media.  I use nickname initials for my author accounts on facebook, twitter and goodreads.  People I have friended can see my nickname in a few places.  I use a different account for friends and relatives.  They've only ever called me by nicknames so they expect that anyway.  I use yet a different account for the "not ready for primetime" friends and acquaintances.  They are all probably fine, but I don't know 100% for sure, so don't want them seeing my friends list that contains relatives and close friends, and messaging my cousins' or old college roommates daughters etc...  I try to keep different parts of my life separated when doing social media.

On my webpage, blog, social media accounts I do not post my photo.  (I do for the close friends and relatives account.)  This was discussed in detail with RWA buddies.  Some were concerned when I started to post my write-a-thon locations, so I removed my (one) photo from my website.  Now my photo is an antique typewriter.  Some would say that being a typewriter will make it harder for me to connect with an audience, so I considered that too, but I'm doing the gender neutral thing anyway so I'll continue to be a typewriter.  Without worry I can list "write-a-thon" times and locations for coffee houses where I go to write.  Often a writer friend or several will read this on my website and show up.  But I don't want any random people knowing where I am and what I look like or breaking into my house while I'm gone.

A few of my writer buddies also do not use their legal names for their writer presence and social media.  They're careful about photos and never post their kid's photos.  It's particularly important if you write anything that could be considered "whoa!", like erotica or paranormals.

I'm too cheap to pay the extra fee for private domain names, especially since I own several, so I use a PO Box, a virtual phone number, and initials for a first name instead.  Thus doing a "whois" on my sites, email addresses, etc. does not reveal much.

I've been on the internet since the late 70's and I'm happy to say that my legal name is not searchable via my online activities.  I'm sorry to say that it is via the data mining engines like Spokeo.  Grrrrr.....  That likely is from real estate records and my phone number.
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JOANNA’S SITUATION: If I have a 90K Gothic manuscript, how can I market that to a print publisher or an agent? I have a few leads, but I have only found the real enthusiasts for Gothics among e-pubbers. And it's even harder to find an agent who still remembers what a Gothic is supposed to be like. My e-book (a novelette), The Lady in White, will debut this year as one of a series, Shadowed Hearts, at Red Rose Publishing. I love this area now, but I do still want to aim one novel for a print publisher. They are Gothics, and more are "in me."
 

JOANNA’S QUESTION: Do you know of any who actively seek this genre? Do you have any knowledge or suggestions for me?

UNFORTUNATELY: My apologies, Joanna, but I haven’t been looking for an agent in quite a while. When I chose Marsal Lyon two years ago, it was based off my friends’ experience with the agency. They shot straight to the top of my list.

 

ADVICE: Find authors who write this genre and you’ll find your information. Or just look through the agencies until you FIND someone who represents the style of book that’s currently being published. And if that particular book isn’t currently being published...well, wait a while.

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LIZ’S QUESTION: I wondered about your website--did you do it yourself?

ANSWER: Yes. I designed it with my husband just using FRONTPAGE. I’m learning a new program because Microsoft isn’t using it any longer. A MISTAKE I MADE: I went a long time without updating it because I was traveling and didn’t have enough capacity on my laptop to run the web-program. That is no longer a problem. (NEW LAP TOP THIS WEEK.)  ADVICE: Keep your website updated. Make it easy to update it. And make certain if you hire someone that you have access to change little things for yourself.

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: Had you come up with it before your sale (sorry if you said already and I missed it)?

ANSWER: No. And I didn’t have a brand until June of last year. (More about my brand in a different email.)

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: What kind of networking (online and in person) are you finding most helpful?

ANSWER: You know, I’m not certain about this yet. I have no “numbers” to back anything up. I get the fastest response on Facebook. I’m a partner with Get Lost In A Story (blogspot) which features a fun author Q&A for readers. I do notice that almost each time I blog I receive more TWITTER followers and Facebook friends. I write for Harlequin and take advantage of their eCommunity. THOSE readers are definitely my target audience and I want a reader-author relationship with them.

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: Are you building a mailing list of readers?

ANSWER: Yes. Every promotion or contest I do requires an EMAIL address from the reader. Book signing drawings...gotta leave your email to be entered.

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: Did you do ARC's?

ANSWER: Electronic ARCs only.

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: Have you had any experiences with review sites (or mags)?
ANSWER: Not yet. I’ve sent out books, but they haven’t responded with a review. So this round, I concentrated on awarding electronic ARCs to readers who post reviews. Keeping my fingers crossed it generates a buzz.

 

LIZ’S QUESTION: Have you gotten any fan mail yet?

ANSWER: Yes. In fact, I’ve copied one below. It was so very cool.

 

FAN LETTER--HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP spoiler:

“Well, gosh darn it and doggone it, you write a heck of a book, lady! (I'm trying to stop swearing :-) )  I thought it quite clever for Jane to leave by swimming across the lake. Loved how you described Rhodes as having two-toned spiked hair.  Loved how you portrayed Steve's battle between his FBI side and his certain knowledge that Jane was innocent.  The Winnie and Fred episode was priceless, as were Jane's inner dialogues--naming species and genus for all the animals in the van, reciting books that she'd "read" by flipping through them for a few minutes. The chase scenes through San Antonio were fast-paced and exciting, and the scene where Steve rescues Rory was incredibly dramatic.”

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JOY’S QUESTION: I've been thinking a lot about what my brand is lately. Would love to have some direction in this area. Do you have a list of questions that I could ask myself that might jump start this process for me?

ANSWER DECIDING ON A BRAND: This was one of the toughest things I faced. I debated off and on for several years. Seriously. Every time an author brought up the subject, I wanted to get this done, established, wanted a good website. But I didn’t want to jump the gun, didn’t want to invest a lot of time on something that was going to be useless once I sold. And I didn’t have ANYTHING original. In fact every Texas-related theme or “brand” I liked seemed to cover the subject and I couldn’t develop a variation.

 

I knew on thing: Texas. My strong heritage and love for my state (which just happens to be a strong “hook”) seeped into my writing. I was writing a chapter of .38 Caliber Cover-Up with my undercover DEA Agent. He had two-toned spiked hair, wore an Ozzie Osborn T-shirt, a black-leather jacket and tennis shoes. I asked what picture she had after reading the opening. She said HE’S A GOOD OLD TEXAS COWBOY. Right then I knew I was destined to write Texas heroes. No matter how I tried, that strong Texas “voice” showed up. So I could and probably should use that as part of my “brand.”

 

In the middle of my second book, my CP (Amy Atwell) emailed me one morning and said my tag line came to her (I think in her sleep-LOL):

       INTRIGUES WHERE DANGER AND HONOR COLLIDE WITH LOVE

Intrigue referred to both suspense and the Intrigue® series emblem. I LOVED IT, just for that. DANGER is an obvious word for suspense. But then AMY told me that my stories always had a question regarding HONOR (summarizing her words here LOL). The honorable, upstanding thing to do. (Must be that Texas thing inside me or the fact my dad taught me to keep my word.)

 

The website theme grew from that tag line and the writing “voice” I have. I personally want to be known for authentic Texas locales and heroes. After Amy and I spoke, it was a matter of hours before I had the image in my head. My husband listened to what I wanted and played. My description to him was: You know those Texas flags painted on wood that I like? How would that be for a background?  He incorporated the Intrigue® fingerprint and we had the title for .38 Caliber Cover-Up by that time, so he added the end of a bullet.  I LOVE IT !!!

 

So I’m hoping that you can look at my website and know three things: Intrigue®, Suspense, Texas.

 

ACTUALLY ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION with a BUNCH of QUESTIONS:

      1) Have you made up your mind what genre you’ll be concentrating on?

      2) Have contests, editors, CPs said THIS is what you should write? Is THIS where your voice excels?

      3) Will your stories have a central location for a theme?

          (KymRoberts.com -- her stories are centered in Hawaii)

      4) Are you willing to re-develop your website each time your series changes to focus on the current theme?

          (CherryAdair.com -- Her look is constantly changing, constantly brings me back)

      5) Do you want a website and tag line that’s more like, say, an attitude?

          (TawnyWeber.com --Sassy, sexy writing)

      6) A genre theme?

          (SandyBlair.net --Scottish look and books)

      7) Establishing yourself through a blog and promoting your books?

          ( http://dailydose-fantasyromance.blogspot.com/)

      7) And what about just a multi-published author with a simple website?

          (HelenKayDimon.com --An award winning author)

          (LindaCastillo.com --Best Selling Author)

 

Whatever you go with...there’s one big no-no in my humble opinion (which I’ve already been guilty of):

      DO NOT GO WEEKS & MONTHS WITHOUT UPDATING THE PAGES

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COLLEEN’S QUESTION: You’ve just signed a contract. What is the top priority in thinking ahead to release time as far as promotion and being prepared, along side of just continuing to write and finishing that next book?

ANSWER: HONESTLY? There isn’t a higher promotion than writing the next book. Keeping your books in front of readers is the greatest promotion of all. Most of us do not get to sell without a proposal. And if you personally know another author who writes for that line, ask them for advice, if there’s anything they can tell you about the editing process, what works for promotion, etc. TAKE them to lunch or invest time in a long phone call. Most will be happy to share.

 

BUT YOU ASKED about the top priority as far as promotion:

            1) Website. Up-to-date, decide who will update, how often, keep it current.

            2)  Definitely make decisions about your schedule

            3)  Limit your time promoting

            4)  Never forget to take time for yourself

            5)  and write every day.

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MICHELLE’S QUESTION: I wonder if anyone in the industry as ever studied how this effort translates into sales??? (I've tried looking, and I've found nothing).

ANSWER: THAT’S RIGHT, NO ONE KNOWS EITHER WAY.  And that’s one of the main things to consider when you get caught up in promoting and the social media world. But never, ever let it get in the way of the writing. “Writers...write.”  I’m mentioning this in another email, but every time I blog, I normally see the new commenter as a “friend” request on Facebook or a “follower” on Twitter. One thing that helps me to do is NOTIFY THEM LATER about a book release. And if they enjoy my books, then they’ll recommend me to their friends. Nothing beats word of mouth.

 

UNFORTUNATELY: A proven fact is that name recognition sells. If a potential reader is in the store or on an electronic medium to purchase a book, they normally go with an established name. In order to get them to “recognize” your name...they need to see it. SOOOO....finding where and getting your name where they see it ... THAT’s promotion/advertising/social media.

 

Ask an agent, editor, marketing, another author...whoever. There’s ONE sure fire way to get a reader to recommend you and read you again. WAIT FOR IT...WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

 

FOR REFERENCE

I have a question about social media. I am quite social media savy and comfortable with it, in part because of my day job (I'm a medical librarian). I do have a web presence and blog regularly - mostly as another outlet for my writing and a way to have a "face" to go to when I query. I'm having my blog redone now to make it more professional looking. I also have a Twitter account, and FB, but that one is strictly personal. I'm on Goodreads too, mostly as a way to keep track of my reading and share what I've read.

However, I have to wonder about the focus of the effort to keep up so many different types of social media contacts. I wonder if anyone in the industry as ever studied how this effort translates into sales??? (I've tried looking, and I've found nothing). As a reader, honestly, I might look up an author's website (I often do that) to find out about what they've written. But until I joined my RWAC chapter, the idea of following authors on Twitter, hitting the millions of possible blogs to read up on them - sorry, doesn't happen (I just don't have that kind of time). It could be generational (I am 40, not 20). Or it could be, that as in the past, I find out about authors from other readers - who might be on FB, Goodreads, or at my work. Or, on blogs for readers, like Dear Author or Smart Bitches. I follow only one author on FB. I personally follow the blogs of writers because I'm looking for a community of practice, so my interest is as one author to another. Not reader to author. (Actually, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I've discovered more new authors that way!!!)

I know the questions for your editor/agent are closed, but maybe amongst your fellow authors you've talked about this, and maybe you have information that I don't (probably you do). I think it's good to reach out to readers, but it could be a lot of wasted energy that could be focused on writing, family, or heaven forbid, sleeping:) instead of doing endless blog tours, and twitter parties and whatever. It's not that I'm anti-social media (quite the opposite) - but I also believe doing things that have a purpose and meaning. I hope this makes sense!
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REINA’S QUESTION: 
When’s the best time to establish a pseudonym and brand? What if the editor doesn't like your pen name and wants you to change it?

ANSWER: I think I pretty much answered this with Michelle’s & Joy’s questions on Branding and websites with the exception of the editor/publisher wanting something different. BRANDING yourself prior to a sale because you need to protect your identity...I don’t think the publisher’s going to have a problem.

 

CAUTION: Before choosing a pseudonym, see if anyone’s using it. Research. If you have a lovely name like the lovely LINDA LOVELY....well, you better grab it before someone else begins admiring your name and becomes an actress and takes your FACEBOOK personality (wink wink).

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LINDA’S SITUATION:
   I went to a writers' retreat and finally decided it was time to take the plunge and set up a Facebook account. We tried multiple times but always got the same automated message that my name (my real name!)--Linda Lovely--wasn't acceptable. We searched and found two other Linda Lovely persona on FB. One was an actress. I suspect she's bought the name as a brand. A computer-savvy friend finally found a link for me to ask FB to reconsider the rejection. I got an FB reply that said "don't attempt to register under another name until we get back to you." Ten minutes later I got two identical emails saying I needed to finish my registration. When I tried, I got the same reject message. Since then,
silence from FB. So...any suggestions for what to try next? I hate to use a middle initial (if that's even possible) because that's won't be on my book jacket. Unfortunately, FB only seems to maintain one-way contact with no opportunity for discussion.

Ignore my last post. Though it apparently brought me good luck. Minutes after I posted that Facebook didn't like me, I got a reply from the Facebook team that I needed to send them a scanned copy of a government-issued ID as Linda Lovely is one of the names they try to "protect." Sigh. Maybe I'll be on FB soon.

 

Linda, you still might want to consider registering as Linda Lovely Author or some type of variation. Mainly because it will make searching for you easier. Or set up a LC (limited corporation--I think). 

 

One thing to consider --especially if you're just setting up Facebook or Twitter or other accounts-- keep your family /friends separate. But if you're writing with your real name, simply add AUTHOR to the mix.  ~~More to come on this.

 

Reina’s OPINION: After reading the file on whether to listen to contests, I have to say I think the same advice--to ultimately be true to yourself and your voice--is true in all things, including the use (or not) of social media. Considering the proliferation of unpubbed author blogs, websites, etc, it is common sense that these do not help you get pubbed--the book has to be there that will sell.

 

While I am not diminishing the potential usefulness of blogs, FB, Twitter, etc., I don't think you need them to succeed. As I reader, I look at websites/blogs only, and many avid readers I know don't care a bit about online presence. There are still other promotional opportunities. And, having heard editor talks and from following agent/editor blogs, my understanding is it really is about the book. It may be a perk to be out there, if you're doing it right, but it's not always going to sell your book, pubbed or not. You don't need to do it all. Write first, then decide what promotional tool or connection appeals to you and do that as best you can too. Just my opinion. :)

 

ANGI: Oh you’re absolutely right and that’s the reason I wanted to get you thinking about how much promoting/social media you’ll be attempting. And whatever THAT is, no matter what or how much, it’s better to decide NOW instead of after you sell. It’s easier to learn one thing at a time and see if it’s for you without the pressure of having to learn everything at once.

 

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SARA's QUESTION: My question is more of a personal one concerning your process. Now that you have an agent and a editor, do you still use critique partners or groups? 

ANSWER: YES! I discovered a couple of things about myself in the past year. I'm an audible plotter. I have to bounce ideas off of other writers who understand you don't go with the first idea. AND I'm what I call a slayer. I have to slay (fix) problems that crop us AS they crop up. I can't move too far ahead if there's something nagging at me. I hope to use CPs (maybe in different ways), but I also have a lot of "repayment" to take care of.  >>big grin<<

 

SARA's QUESTION: Also, does your agent fully edit your work before it goes to the editor or does she send it as is to the editor?

ANSWER:  Jill asked what *I* wanted. And I like for her to read through my work, especially the synopsis/proposal. My first agent, sent it directly to the editors.

 

SARA's COMMENTS: I ask because I use critiques partners and my agent only does "light" editing, but if I had to have a book completely finished and ready to go in nine weeks, I'm not sure I could do it. I'm sure I could complete a rough draft in that length of time, but that would be about it. I couldn't have it polished.

ANSWER:  HONESTLY, I was scared to death when I said yes to the contract on .38 Caliber Cover-Up. I took several months to revise Hill Country Holdup. "WHAT WAS I THINKING?" There were many many times I told myself I was crazy and many times my CPs had to assure me (while I was in tears) that it was a good book.

 

When you sign with an agent, it's important to verify how much editing, feedback, input that you (as the writer) expect. AND that the agent wants to give. And given the circumstances that might change when additional help is needed. It's important to feel you CAN change and that your agent rolls with the punches. My first agent didn't give feedback. Maybe a suggestion or two...but that was it. Here again, I'm a classic neurotic writer who needs constant assurance that I'm headed in the write direction. LOL  I signed with Jill after Hill Country Holdup was at Harlequin. Not much input needed. After the dust settled, we had a conversation and she asked ME how much input I wanted. She's even offered to listen to me bounce ideas around.

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NAN’S COMMENTS & QUESTION: My agent and I are always bouncing ideas around. I sometimes feel compelled to write those and I feel I fall short. How, do you keep the balance between good ideas and what you want to write vs what you agent gives you and she might know what is going down in the publishing world. How, I guess, do you keep the balance and not seem ungrateful?
BEST ANSWER: Confidence in yourself. (Confidence that you normally don’t have as an unpublished or even a newly published author.)

THE REAL ANSWER: Gosh, darn it. I wish there were an easy answer. You have to trust yourself. Just remember: your agent took you on as a client based off of an idea that she had nothing to do with (your first submitted work). So somewhere back there, she trusted your instincts.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ll just mention that I verbally pitch much much better than sending a written synopsis. Jill & Allison agree that my synopsis writing is rather ...lacking. >>grin<<  My CPs will come right out and tell you that I pretty much suck at it. LOL  So bouncing ideas is a much better direction for me to go with them both. For my third idea, I had a conversation with my agent first who set up a phone call with my editor. I gave all the ideas to her...she asked questions, and asked to combine the single story idea I had with the series idea. Allison liked all the ideas, but chose the one she thought would work best right now. It’s been hard, but it was the project *I* wanted too.

THIS IS A BUSINESS: Bottom line. Your agent and editor have experience that you draw from and need to utilize. BUT BUT BUT, you still have to be passionate about your characters, your story, your words! No matter what the idea, it will always turn into your story! 

ADVICE: Make up your mind you want to be a part of this business and do what it takes to sell. And to sell again. Every book I write is from my heart--if it isn’t, I’m not emotionally attached to it. So please don’t take my next statement wrong. But I guarantee you...if it means the next sell, I can write about anything.

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KERRY’s QUESTION: If you were shopping a first manuscript, would you go for the big publishers first, or get your foot in the door at a smaller e-pub? 

PERSONAL CHOICE: Kerry, there is no right or wrong answer here. I could have sold to an e-press many times, but it was my personal choice to ‘hang tough’ and wait for Harlequin to say yes. It took a while, but that was MY dream, completely right for me. I’ve wanted to write for Harlequin since I was a teenager.

 

RESEARCH! RESEARCH! AND MORE RESEARCH!

·     Where’s the best fit for your manuscript?

·     What’s going to benefit your writing style?

·     Do you need control over your creativity, your rights?

·     Where do you think the market is headed and does that publisher have a good handle where it’s headed?

·     Have you thought about where you see yourself and what road is the BEST one for you to take?

Remember...I never claimed to have all the answers, but I can give you a list of questions to point you in the right direction.

 

KERRY’s QUESTION: Are “smaller” contests worth it? Do they (smaller contests) really open doors?

SHORT ANSWER: YES !  Hill Country Holdup is a sale off the 2009 Daphne du Maurier win.

LONG ANSWER: WOO HOO... I love to answer this question, but I’m going to have to manage my time. I have blogged about subject this past year and I’m sending Gwen the article.  She can post it in the file section so everyone has an opportunity to see the “journey” of Hill Country Holdup the year it sold. It’s interesting. And I disclose comments and scores.

 

SPECIFIC TO THE QUESTION RE: SMALLER CONTESTS? Any contest where the finalists are ranked by a publishing editor is not a “small” contest. If the odds are in your favor to get in front of an editor because there are fewer entries...my advice is to go for it.

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MARTIE’S QUESTION: You were discussing proposals. How closely do your editors hold you to the proposal you send for your second book and third books?

SHORT ANSWER: I hear all the time that authors submit very lose plots and their editors expect them to deviate. Haven’t gotten to the third book for myself...but since I’m a complete and total pantser who hates knowing the end of a book before I write it (what’s the fun in that?). I expect I’ll deviate from time to time. Now regarding my second book...

 

LONG ANSWER: ...funny story along these lines. As I said in DAY ONE, I seem to get stuck slaying the problems along the way. And while writing .38 Caliber, I had a big one.

 

You see, this manuscript wasn’t “rejected” but --okay, technically the proposal was rejected. Jill got the phone call and basically told Allison that we could address her concerns and send revisions. That was on a Wednesday. I spent all evening coming up with 6 different ways I could change things. Thursday morning I spoke with Jill, began the fourth or fifth idea and she stopped me, “Angi, they love the book. You just need to change the villain.” Much less complicated. So I did. Thursday. Jill resubmitted on Friday. They bought the book 18 days later.

 

And here’s the problem. Making changes that fast, I had no way of knowing what complications would arise with motivation and the lose plot I’d given them. Half-way through the book, I slayed my dragon beast and went a different direction. Much better story. I was typing along on page 195 (out of approximately 220) and said, “So you’re the villain.” Jill loved the book. One CP actually said, “How did you surprise me? I’ve plotted every chapter with you.”  BUT (to answer your question) the second half of the book wasn’t ANYthing like the original synopsis storyline.

 

Allison didn’t ask for revisions. So as long as the story’s good and they get the basic story they purchased--hero-centric, heroine in jeopardy, on-the-run, hot air balloon, romance--I think they’re happy.

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ASA MARIA’s QUESTION: What are some of the questions I should ask to find out if a publishing professional is right for me, without sounding disrespectful?

ANSWER: The best I could do is go back to an Agent & Editor appointment tip sheet that I helped develop in 2001 and then revised for RWA while I was on the board.  I didn’t update it, but it’s a starting point. But I bet if you ask your loops for questions, they’ll point you to a ton of blogs and articles.  (The tips should be posted in the file section: Angi Appointment Tips.)

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Deb writes I have a question for Allison. If I submit to Intrigue as an unagented, unpublished writer, which I plan to in about a month, how important is the query and synopsis since we're sending the completed manuscript? Do they actually look at the manuscript or make a decision to read or not to read based on the synopsis? As you can tell, I'm in panic mode about writing a synopsis. Every one I've tried to write is so lame compared to the real story.

 

Got it ready to pass along. My best advice about your synopsis is to give it to someone who doesn't know the story and see if they have questions. A good rule of thumb about writing a suspense synopsis is to write the four turning points, black moment, and ending...and hold them all together with emotion. You can do it. You've already finished the hard part.

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SUSAN’S QUESTION: Can I query agents with only a book proposal? How does one do that?

OPINION: I sent your question to Jill, but thought I’d add my opinion. >>grin<<

Agents tend to sit up and take faster action when the author is already conversing with an editor. So take advantage of that. Be upfront, honest, say that you have the proposal. Find the agency that will look at the proposal. Move fast so they’ll have to do some work for you!

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SARAH’S QUESTION: With this in mind, I was surprised to learn you hired your agent after you sold your first book.   I apologize for the dumb question.  I've just never completely understood what it is they do, other than shop your story, and you'd already done that. 

 

QUESTION: Why did you feel it important to have an agent? 

 

ANSWER: Long term, it’s always been in my career plan to write for more than one sub-genre of romance. Career-wise, it has definitely been the right decision. I did get in front of editors with contest finals, but I got a much faster response with my agents. I totally give credit for my release next week to Jill Marsal. I would have sold the book, I’m certain of that. But having a second release 4 months after my first [before any numbers come in on my sales] I really feel it was the result of having an agent.

 

AND BESIDES: I have a phobia about asking editors about the status of my work. I’d work myself up for 7 days trying to get the courage to make the phone call or type an email. (I know, it’s hard for you to believe.) Then I’d make myself sick wondering if they actually received the message. Then I’d waste another several days waiting. THIS was the reason I sought an agent.

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ANNE’S QUESTION: Where do you go for contract advice? How does one find an intellectual property lawyer who understands publishing rights?

NON-ANSWER: Sorry I can’t help you with this one. My first stop would be chapter members. I know some literary agencies work with or ARE intellectual property lawyers. If this is the route you’d like to take, perhaps researching now is the way to go.

 

ANNE’S QUESTION: In general, would an agent be more or less interested in taking a published author on given the author is writing category?

ANSWER: Jill Marsal knew from the beginning that I’m writing category and she took me on, along with several other writers I know. But I know several agents won’t. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

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PREFACE: As always, each individual writer and story is in a unique situation. Please keep that in mind with all my answers.

 

JACLYN’S QUESTION: Do you suggest the unpublished writer obtain an agent or query the publisher directly?

ANSWER: I sincerely think that you should do both. If you can get your BEST work in front of agents and editors, you should. Some publishers will only work or review agented material.  

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
 

JOANNA’S QUESTION: I wondered if the answers apply equally to print pubbed, e-pubbed, publish-on-demand pubbed, on having the second request ready. And by ready, do you mean the book fully written, or only the proposal

MY EXPERIENCE: I passed your question along to Jill & Allison, but I wanted to add another piece of my story. As soon as everything settled with the first contract, Jill was ready to submit the next proposal for me.  But I was out of practice. I had polished a manuscript basically all year and hadn’t written anything new in quite a while. This did not play in my favor.

 

So...whatever avenue you pursue in publication, you always need a follow-up. Keep a file on ideas, things that spark your interest. I’m not telling you anything new. But no matter what stage you have proposals or books, as soon as you sell that idea or proposal or full manuscript, you’ll need another. So keep your creative well full of ideas.

 

In 2005, I had gotten to the point where I thought I’d never sell to Harlequin and had single title romantic suspense ideas. So when I sold to Intrigue...I needed appropriate completely NEW ideas.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
 

JUDY’S QUESTION: Also, how important is it to have an agent in New York? I live in Canada. PERSONAL OPINION: I’m not certain it matters WHERE the agent is located, just that he/she have a relationship and contact with editors.  My first agent is located in Florida and Jill is located in California. What’s more important than location is the working relationship you have with your agent. Your agent MUST believe in your work and want a long-term career for you. And YOU must have confidence in your agent’s advice.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
 

JESSICA & SARAH’S QUESTION: Should an author send the same submission to different agents/editors at one time?

ANSWER: Yes. Absolutely. This is your business and if you receive an offer and have to PULL your submission for an agent’s desk. So be it. This is your career, and you can’t afford to wait on agents to make up their minds if they want

 

JESSICA’S QUESTION: None of us want to offend. On the other hand it sometimes feels like an author doesn't get any respect when agents keep their work so long. Is it an indication that the agent is way too busy?

OPINION: Sometimes, I believe that authors trying to find an agent forget we’re the ones hiring. And that never seems quite true until we’re very established. But it IS true. 

 

Keep that in mind. Yes, I realize we’re walking a tightrope. The agents have to approve of our work before we become their clients. It’s a partnership. And partners have to work together to obtain success.

 

So, Jessica, do you lose respect for a person who goes six weeks without acknowledging you’ve contacted them? And will you gain back the respect for this person? Obviously, no one can make this decision for you. But you’re entering into a business contract with the agent. If you feel she’s “too busy” now, after she takes you as a client then ______________ ?  I’ll let you fill in the blank.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
 

FOR some additional advice on agents and contracts, I went to my fellow GET LOST IN A STORY, 2010 Golden Heart finalists, recently contracted, and soon-to-be published author buds: Cat Shield, Harlequin Desire June ‘11; Heather Snow, NAL Signet Eclipse Spring ‘12; and Donnell Bell, Sept ’11 Bell Bridge Books.

 

And recently, GET LOST IN A STORY  had guest Kim Bahnsen or Kylie Brant who published with Harlequin for years before she sought agent representation. >>http://getlostinastory.blogspot.com/search/label/Kylie%20Brant<< 

 

QUESTION:   How do you approach an agent when you have requests, especially if you think you're about to make a sale?

CAT: Send them an email and say the manuscript is requested.  You might get a faster read.  If you have an offer pending, for heaven sakes, pick up the phone.  It's one of those times when they don't mind a phone call.  Of course, I'm assuming the offer is for a NY publisher, not ebook.  

DONNELL: Also, consider if you’re selling to a small press.  Do you need an agent?  Are you willing to give away 15 percent of a small advance or no advance to launch your career? 

 

HEATHER: In my query letter, I made sure to state that X editor from X house had requested the partial/full.  If they made the request after reading it in a contest, I made sure to mention that because I felt it said to the agent that an editor had read the first 3 chapters (or whatever) and STILL requested it, versus just off of a query letter.  I felt that looked stronger.  I also included any other buzz/contest finals, etc the manuscript was getting, just to let the agent know that people other than me were liking it! 

 

EXAMPLE:  Sweet Enemy is a 100,000 word stand-alone Regency historical romance, the first of a planned series of three featuring uniquely intellectual heroines with mystery subplots.  An extended partial and synopsis have been requested and sent to EDITOR at PUBLISHING HOUSE after she read the first three chapters.  Sweet Enemy also won the 2010 Chicago North Fire and Ice contest in the historical category, and is a current finalist in Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contest and the Kiss of Death’s Daphne du Maurier contest.

 

QUESTION:   Should you seek an agent before saying yes to a contract offer?

HEATHER: Yes, I would seek an agent before making a deal.  I didn’t submit to publishers at all (other than the one request I’d gotten from a contest) but went directly to agents.  (I do write single title, though, vs category).  If you do get an offer from a publisher before you’ve secured an agent, tell them you appreciate the offer and you would like to finalize agent representation before you respond.  Then you can always query your top agents and put something in the subject line of the e-mail as well as in the query stating that you have an offer on the table from X house.  That will get you read faster, if the agent has any interest in representing you, and the process can go quickly.  However, it’s much less stressful to have an agent in place BEFORE the offer J.

 

CAT: I definitely would sign with an agent before I accepted an offer on the table.  Unless you're writing category, and even then it can help you get read faster, an agent can sub your book out to see if there's other interested parties and do the negotiating.

 

DONNELL: Just because you have a publisher interested, doesn’t guarantee you a *reputable* agent.  Recently, a woman who has a three-book contract from one of the big six started her agent search – she met her publisher at a conference did exactly what the editor said and had an in.  The editor loved her idea and the rest was history.  One *reputable* agent came back to the unagented author and insisted she needed to read the book before she offered representation, while one jumped on the bandwagon without even seeing a sample of her writing.  The three-book contract did it for him and all he saw were dollar signs and that he would have 15 percent of three books.

 

Other people I’ve known who’ve had contracts still had trouble getting agents.  A reputable agent will 1) love your books 2) consider if he/she has contacts within the authors’ market.  If you’re writing a children’s book, you do not want to have an agent who targets mystery/suspense.  You also want an agent who is with you for a career and not just for one book.

 

QUESTION:   If you have multiple agents vying for your work...how do you decide which one?

HEATHER: Wow, when you have multiple offers?  What a great problem to have!  Very stressful, too, though because you are so worried about making the wrong choice.  First, remember, the agent you choose is going to be your partner.  You need to be able to work well together.  Second, this is a business and you need to do your research.  I looked up potential agents clients, Publisher’s Marketplace deals (who they’d sold to, what houses they liked to work with/had good contacts with…did this align with my career goals?), I had a 2 page questionnaire and I interviewed each of them extensively to see how their values/personality/vision for my career lined up with mine and what I needed from an agent.  Check references, talk to their current and past clients if you can.  I sought advice from other published writers: some said choose the person who is the most enthusiastic about your work, some said getting the most experienced agent with the most clout is very important, some said finding the one who has those things AND who you “click” with is the most important.  Now, “clicking” is not my thing…I’m a head person, so I agonized instead.  I had some seriously tough choices to make, as I had wonderful agents to choose from, each with varying experience. In the end, I went with the agent who I thought had the best of all things.  She didn’t have as much experience as some of the others, but she had done deals in the last year with the houses I was targeting and editors that I wanted.  She was tenacious and energetic, and completely stoked about my writing.  She was enthusiastic in spades, and absolutely determined to represent me.  In our conversations, I learned she was smart, savvy and yes, we clicked—even though I’m a 98% head person and she’s a 98% heart person—a fact we joke about.  Even with all of these things, I almost didn’t choose her because I kept hearing “experience and clout”.  But she was with a well established agency and I just really felt we were the right fit.  And I’m thrilled I chose her.  So I guess my advice is weigh experience, enthusiasm for YOUR writing, and references.  Don’t choose the most enthusiastic person if they can’t back it up with sales.  Don’t choose the biggest, most experienced agent if you’re going to be just one of many and you don’t feel he/she is that enthusiastic about YOU. 

 

Heather Snow

Sweet Enemy from NAL Signet Eclipse, Spring 2012

www.HeatherSnowBooks.com

 

Donnell Ann Bell

Walk Away Joe (working title) Bell Bridge Books, September 2011

www.donnellannbell.com

 

Cat Schield
MEDDLING WITH A MILLIONAIRE - Silhouette/Harlequin Desire, June 2011
www.catschield.com

 

~~ ~~ AGENT JILL MARSAL, MARSAL LYON LITERERY AGENCY ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

JILL MARSAL

Literary Agent

Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com

 

All questions were collected and submitted to Jill.

I hope this helps or points you in the right direction.

~~Angi

 

 

QUESTION:   I'm not clear about the politeness required for inquiring to an agent about a requested manuscript that has been delivered to her. I think I'm purposefully delaying because I am afraid of a negative response and wish to give her as much time as is needed to fully evaluate the chances for the manuscript’s publication. Would a phone call be more intrusive than a note, or email? What do you suggest? How long should I wait?

JILL’S ANSWER:  I would email to check in but first look at the agent’s website to see their general response time.  If it’s only been a week or two, you probably should wait a little longer.  If no response time policy is listed, then I would wait about a month or so before checking in (and some agencies are running even longer).  I think an email is less intrusive than a call so that would be the way I would follow-up.  Also, since you mention a requested manuscript rather than a query, that can take a bit longer since a full manuscript is generally 300-400 pages.  I know the waiting period is so difficult and if it has been a while, I think most agents would understand a short, polite email checking in.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  I have published two contemporary romances with a small press, a third completed, and fourth proposal, but I am also working on a YA with strong romantic elements and hope to start writing more for the YA market. How do I approach shopping books in two different genres to one agent who represents both? I would assume I need to query one book at a time, but at what point would I say I'm also working on young adult?

JILL’S ANSWER: I would let the agent know that up front, after she has responded to your first query.  If she is interested in your first book, she will want to know what else you are working on, and if she isn’t interested in the first project, it may be that another genre of project would be a better fit.  As an agent, I always like to know everything my authors are writing and working on and feel part of an agent’s job is to help guide the author’s career.  We have a number of authors who write more than one type of book and that is a good thing to strategize with an agent.  However, you don’t want to overload the agent in a first query – so I would wait to let the agent know in follow-up emails.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: What's the one thing unpublished authors seem unprepared for between signing with an agent and becoming published?

JILL’S ANSWER: How incredibly slow the publishing industry moves – both in terms of reading materials, making offers, and then getting the book published.  This is hard for an agent too.  We are passionate about the books we take on and I know authors feel that way about their work and to sit for weeks on end waiting for a decision can be really trying.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: I noticed that your profile says you work with authors on their multi-cultural books. Would you mind sharking who is publishing these novels in addition to Harlequin’s Kimani and Genesis Press.

JILL’S ANSWER:  I was referring to multicultural books that cross-over and are sold as mainstream fiction -- authors like Amy Tan and Chitra Divakaruni.  All of the major houses are interested in this type of work, and I really enjoy working in this area. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: Do agents have an input into the marketing plan of their client's book/s? Or does that differ from agent to agent?

JILL’S ANSWER: That differs from agent to agent and is a good question to ask when you are choosing an agent.  You want to know what to expect and these days, authors are more and more important in marketing their books since publishers are not doing as much as they used to and are wanting active author involvement.  Generally, you will want to find an agent who can help strategize about marketing, offer suggestions, and make sure the publicity department is on top of things when it comes time to publish your book. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION REGARDING YOUR GUIDELINES: Do you like paranormal romance, stories with supernatural elements (like vintage Anne Rice)? Are you open to manuscripts like Showalter's ‘gods loving human women’ or just ‘normal’ paranormal like Kenyon's vampires and other assorted beasties and humans?

JILL’S ANSWER: I like paranormal romance, primarily “normal” paranormal (never thought I would use those 2 words together), but if something is very well-written, I am certainly open to considering it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

SITUATION: Regarding finding an agent after the call. If I receive a multi-book contract offer from a mainstream publisher and I don't have an agent, but I want one. I have the following questions:

QUESTION: Is it okay to call an agent under these circumstances? Yes.

QUESTION: Should I send an e-mail query first and then follow-up with a phone call? I would not do both- either send an email and in the subject line mention that you have an offer or call.  If you write that you have a multi-book contract offer from a publisher, you should hear back from an agent right away.  Most agents I know would want to find out more about your projects.  If you don’t hear from the agent, you may want to consider other agents.

QUESTION: How long should I expect the editor to allow me to find an agent?  (I would definitely tell said editor that I wanted to contact an agent first.) Publishers are usually pretty good about giving you the time to do this. Just let them know and keep them updated.

QUESTION: Are my chances of getting a targeted agent truly improved, or do selective/busy agents give such submissions the same level of review as any other ms? This absolutely improves your chances and selective agents will respond faster in these situations.

QUESTION: Is there anything in particular I should put in the subject line that might get an agent's attention enough to respond quickly?    How about "I have a contract offer--HELP!"?  “multi-book contract from XXXX”

JILL’S ANSWER:   Oops- I put the answers after each question, but the overall response is that most agents would be very excited to hear this news and should get back to you very quickly when they hear that.  They understand that a publisher is waiting for a decision and that you need to move on the editor interest as soon as possible.  If you don’t hear from an agent fairly quickly, that’s probably not a good sign and you might want to consider trying another agent because you want someone who is going to be very excited about your work and if their response is slow in the beginning, it is not likely to get better over the course of your relationship.  I think it is really important to have someone who gets back to you promptly and shares your enthusiasm when you are selecting an agent.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  I've heard if you're targeting Harlequin/Silhouette you don't need an agent.  The contracts are non-negotiable and some have told me to save the 15% I would pay an agent. Why is it important to have an agent?

JILL’S ANSWER:  We have had a number of authors come to us with an offer in hand still wanting to work with an agent and there are several important reasons for this.  A good agent does more than just get you a deal.  They can help you develop book concepts, tell you what is working and not working for the particular line (if you are wanting to write for Harlequin), and help you build your career.  They are experienced eyes in reading your manuscripts and editing and helping to make sure your proposals are as strong as possible, and a good agent will know and be able to convey the latest that each of the editors is looking for.  There are often trends or new directions that lines decide to follow and an agent will help an author stay up on these.  Also, if there are editorial issues that come up down the road, it can be useful to have an experienced agent involved in those discussions with your editor, especially if there are editorially disagreements.  Agents also are in regular contact with editors and hear concerns or changes in the industry that can impact what is selling and which a writer should know about but might not have access to.  Further, agents can help you plan your career.  Do you want to try writing for more then one line?  Do you want to try writing for Harlequin and also single title?  Do you want to try and increase the number of books you are selling to  Harlequin each year so that you develop your brand?  These are things that an agent can help you strategize about and make sure you are on course to develop careerwise as a writer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: If you already have an offer, why would you want to involve an agent? (especially if with Harlequin)

JILL’S ANSWER: See previous answer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Is it absolutely necessary to allow an agent to have your story exclusively for 30 to 160 days before you submit to someone else?  If you send to one agency at a time, it could take years.  Is this always the requirement, with a variation on the length of time?   

JILL’S ANSWER:  No, generally exclusivity is not required.  In fact, I recommend that authors do a multiple submission, but just let agents know that it is a multiple submission in your query letter.  Sometimes, if an agent wants an exclusive and you haven’t gone out to multiple houses, you can give one, but my suggestion would be to limit the time period.  I think most agents understand that authors are doing multiple submissions because otherwise it would take years for the submission process.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Two years ago my manuscript was rejected. I have since revised and fixed many problems. Is it appropriate to submit again?

JILL’S ANSWER:  Yes, but let the agent know that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  I have two completed Single Title books of a series. I have an idea for the plots on the third, fourth and fifth but not enough to write a detailed synopsis. Do you expect the synopsis to stay true to an unfinished work? Would a one or two page synopsis suffice?

JILL’S ANSWER: Two completed single title books of a series are enough to get started and 1-2 page synopsis for future books is fine.  Agents know those can change as the series develops, and I think it is often the case that that happens as authors rework a piece.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Angi advises to have a second manuscript ready to send after a first sale. Do you agree and if so, would you require the book to be fully written, or only in the proposal stage?

JILL’S ANSWER:  I think it is great if you can do that, or at least have the idea in your head because you want to be able to send something in to an excited editor, but proposal is fine, and I wouldn’t hold up a first manuscript while waiting to complete the second.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

SITUATION:  An agent has been looking at my first story for almost a year. About 6 months ago she requested revisions which I submitted. I feel the process is being held up, but I do not want to be a Diva. There is also an editor waiting for the manuscript. I told the agent about the editor. The agent wants to see my second book (it's totally different) but I’m afraid to have both books with her since she seems so slow.

QUESTION:  How long should I wait to contact her? Is this standard and I should be glad to be getting the phone call and feed back?

JILL’S ANSWER:  6 months is a very long time.  I would send her an email saying you will give her another few weeks and then you will be sending the project to a few other agents and taking it off “exclusive submission.”  An agent who is really excited about your work will read it and get back to you more promptly than that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  How important is it to have an agent in New York or the states? I live in Canada. (The editor I'm talking to is in New York.)

JILL’S ANSWER:  I think what is important these days is to have an agent who knows the US editors and is able to get projects to the right editors and get them read.  It doesn’t matter if it is New York or somewhere else these days given phones, email, fax, and all the other instant communication available, but you want someone who is well-respected as an agent and will know what to do with your project.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  I have received this response several times: "This is not what I'm looking for now." Can I resubmit an unchanged manuscript? MY REASONING: Just because she didn't want it now, things may have changed in six months. If you're looking for a job, reapplying after a while is the smart thing to do.

JILL’S ANSWER:  I would not resubmit if you receive that response.  Better to try another agent.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Will you look at an author’s web site as part of an evaluation process?

JILL’S ANSWER:  It is better to provide everything in one email (or package) to the agent.  Agents receive so many submissions, they don’t want to have to go to other websites to look at your materials – it just takes too much time.  However, if I am interested in an author or project, then I might sometimes do look to see if they have a website.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Is it a good idea for authors to select pen names and develop a web presence using that name prior to being published?

JILL’S ANSWER:  It is a good idea to start building a web presence and following so that you will have avenues to help promote your book if you have the time.   If you plan to use a pen name, then yes, though that is not necessary.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  After submitting to an agent, when is it appropriate for an author to inquire about the status? Is it different based on the partial or full manuscript OR a query versus request? None of us want to offend. On the other hand it sometimes feels like an author doesn't get any respect when agents keep their work so long. Is it an indication that the agent is way too busy?

JILL’S ANSWER:  I would look at the agent’s policy of how long they take to respond and if they go beyond that period, then I would check in.  Full manuscripts take longer than queries (or partials) but each agent has a different response period.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

SITUATION:  I'm published but with a small publisher (so no advance and PAN status yet). My question revolves around this event. Since I am multiple published, an editor of a large publishing house asked for a book proposal. I've been told to seek an agent for this contract. My book isn't finished. The editor said they would decide based on my proposal. I am assuming they’d contract from the proposal.

QUESTION:  Can I query agents with only a book proposal? Would I need to state this situation in the query letter?

JILL’S ANSWER: Yes, you can query agents and I would let them know this situation in the query letter.  I think most agents would be fine looking at a proposal in that situation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  What topics are you looking for now, or what trend do you see for the coming year?

JILL’S ANSWER:  I am looking for paranormal romance, category romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, Southern fiction, family sagas, commercial fiction, cozies, and non-fiction – you can visit my website at www.MarsalLyonLiteraryAgency.com to learn more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  How important is it for a writer trying to break in to have a web presence (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter)? And what do you recommend to begin? Does an unpublished author “stand out” more?

JILL’S ANSWER:  More and more, we hear people saying it is important to develop a web presence to help promote your book.  This is true.  However, I would recommend spending time on getting the manuscript as strong as possible before I devoted too much time to the web presence.  In my view, the most important thing is what you write, and then after that is ready, I would focus on developing a web presence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Would you ever consider representing an author’s self-published work? Is the author risking alienating the general publishing community when self-publishing?

JILL’S ANSWER:  If you self-publish and are able to sell a big quantity ( over 5,000 copies or so), you might be able to find a trade publisher.  If you self-publish and sell just a few copies, it makes it even more difficult to get interest from a trade publisher.

 

~~ ~~ EDITOR ALLISON LYONS, EDITOR HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Allison Lyons

Editor, Harlequin Intrigue

eHarlequin.com

 

ALL questions were collected and submitted to Allison.

I hope the answers help or point you in the right direction.

~~Angi

 

QUESTION: I understand that Harlequin Intrigues are Hero-centric.  Does that mean you want the heroine POV to be limited?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: Not at all. We want the POV of both the hero and the heroine, but the hero should play a big roll in the heroine’s life, especially when it comes to keeping her safe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:    What's hot in intrigue? What is selling? Kidnapping? Espionage? Missing persons? What topics are you looking for now, or what trend do you see for the coming year?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: What’s hot? The ever-popular cowboy cops, the sheriffs and the like who are men of honor and integrity and will protect the heroine no matter what. Other popular themes include crime scene stories, missing persons (usually children), books set in the west, family connected miniseries (but there must be suspense), specialized agencies…and so many more!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: I've written a sweet romance. Should I keep the word count around 60,000 and target my manuscript for a specific line? I've heard that Sweet is coming back, any truth to that?

ALLISON’S ANSWER:  You would need to take a look at our website, www.eharlequin.com, to see what line to target. Books published in Harlequin Intrigue, for example, are not considered sweet romances.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION: Is there one thing that sets debut authors apart from multi-published authors? Whether a positive or negative quality.

ALLISON’S ANSWER: Well, all multi-published authors were once debut authors, so what we hope when we buy someone new is that she/he will become multi-published. We don’t look to buy someone we think will just have one book in them. The whole point is to get your name out there, generate a fan base and, of course, sales.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  If an editor has requested your partial, how long does it take for them to get back to you? How long should an author wait before a polite inquiry on its status?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: We try to read all submissions in a timely fashion, depending on volume.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  In several queries, I received the reply: "This is not what I'm looking for now." Is it appropriate to query an unchanged manuscript after a period of six months? Is there a chance the market has changed?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: The market is constantly changing so I would say, do your homework. See what’s being published and then target your book accordingly. You might want to be honest if you’re re-querying and mention you’ve queried in the past and that perhaps now your manuscript might work in the current environment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Two years ago my manuscript was rejected. I have since revised and fixed many problems. Is it appropriate to submit again?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: You can submit again but I would have to ask, as an editor, why did it take 2 years to revise it? Keep in mind that, in series romance, frequent publication is very important. Be sure to target the right editor on the right line/imprint or you may find yourself mired in more revisions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  I have two completed Single Title books of a series. I have an idea for the plots on the third, fourth and fifth but not enough to write a detailed synopsis. Do you expect the synopsis to stay true to an unfinished work? Would a one or two page synopsis suffice?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: The general idea of what you’re pitching should be the same. But, if you’ve decided to add a plot element or change the hero’s name, it’s not generally a big deal. An editor is buying your project based on what you originally presented so I wouldn’t go completely off the rails and submit something she hasn’t ever seen. She may wind up rejecting it and asking you to go back to the original idea since it wasn’t what you promised, contractually.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

QUESTION:  Do editors look at your website as part of an evaluation process?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: Not to my knowledge. We look at the quality of the work, not the content of the website. They’re very different.

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QUESTION:   How important is it for a writer to have a web presence before they have sold? And what do you recommend beginning with? Is having a website, blog or Facebook & Twitter accounts important?

ALLISON’S ANSWER: It’s always a good idea to market yourself, even before being published. It doesn’t hurt to have an online presence. Having your own website is always a good idea. Blogging can also be a useful tool and a good way to get encouragement about the process from writers and readers around the world. Facebook and Twitter are the newest things, of course, and it’s up to an individual author how much she/he wants to reveal online. But remember, if you’re trying to keep up with all your online accounts, you’re not doing what you should be: writing your book!

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QUESTION: As writers' contracts come to an end, when do you start discussions about possibly acquiring their next book?

ALLISON’S ANSWER:  I try and discuss what’s next before that contract even nears the end. Constant production is the key to sales.

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QUESTION:  I've been reading in blogs and tweets that it's taking longer and longer to get a contract written and executed. No one seems to know a good reason why though...

ALLISON’S ANSWER:  I don’t know why this would be the case in the digital era. These are more likely individual cases and shouldn’t be considered standard.

 

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ANGI MORGAN
Intrigues where honor & danger collide with love. 

www.AngiMorgan.com
.38 CALIBER COVER-UP
Feb 8th
HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP
still available
2010 RWA GH WINNER: Series Suspense & Adventure
2010 RT Best Series First Book Nominee

 

 

Copyright 2004-2011 Angi Platt Morgan -- all rights reserved, please obtain written permission before use.