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On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
The authors thank you for your readership and hope you will come visit them at their personal sites via the links to the left.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Writing is serious business

** Disclaimer – this is not for the faint of heart. We are not picking on anyone with this blog, we are merely stating our opinion. And as such, it is just that, our opinion. **

Patti
Hey Stephani, here we are again sitting down to do our Up Close and Personal Chats. How are you doing this beautiful day?

stephanihecht72
I'm doing great. The whole family is out camping and they didn't make me go with them.

Patti
Better yet! I'm home alone as well. Just me, the dog, cat and oh yeah, the 24 yr old son waiting on his sister to come pick him up for their joint tattoo session. Ah yes, moments a mother can be proud of!

stephanihecht72
You should record the moment so you can look back on it for years to come.

Patti
Right to show both their grandchildren how silly their parents were. If I ever get grandkids out of them (G) Not that I’m wishing for it anytime soon, mind you.
So this week at our local RWA meeting we had Susan Mallery. She was an awesome speaker and gave a talk on Writing More, Writing Faster.

stephanihecht72
Yes, she was and she even put up with the two of us for the whole day. That should earn her a medal of valor.

Patti
Hey, we're wild and crazy dudettes. What's not to love about us?

stephanihecht72
Did you just say something? I was distracted. Trying to get Ugly Cat to yodel.

Patti
That is sad.

stephanihecht72
I know, she won't do it. She just gives me a filthy look and wobbles away.
The two guys on the YouTube Video made it look so easy.

Patti
Stephani, you really need to get a life. Ok, back to Susan. She presented a way to write 4 full length novels per year, and have a ton of free time as well.
Unless you want us to talk about something else.

stephanihecht72
No, I think this is a great topic. Way more interesting than yodeling cats. Susan was also telling us you need to know your craft, know where your book fits when you submit. Don’t be vague to the editor or agent and say “Wherever you think it would work best is good.”

Patti
Isn’t that amazing. Why can’t people take the time they need to prepare. I was so surprised to hear how many authors never follow through after their appointments at RWA National conference or any conferences really with an agent or editor. Why go to all the trouble if you aren't going to submit? Or at any conference, it doesn't have to be National. Sort of like, a kid who does the homework but leaves it in his locker instead of turning it in.

stephanihecht72
I found that interesting too. I hate it that some authors just wasted everyone's time.

Patti
Part of me wonders if they really have anything at all on paper ready to go, like the three chapters and a synopsis when they pitch, or are they just thinking 'Hey, this would be fun." Sad part is, it's taking up an appointment that an author who is ready to submit really wants and can't get.

stephanihecht72
What I don't get is that these ‘wannabe’ authors don't realize how important this really is and that it could alter someone’s life and career.

Patti
And they will be remembered by the editor or agent. Especially if this is a consistent thing they are doing. You and I both know there are people out there doing it, and we can name names as to who they are, but we won't (for fear of being stoned). Don't forget there are also those out there that snap up every appointment whether they write for a specific genre or not just to say they got an appointment. I wish there was a way the conference coordinators could do something about it. But I bet it's overwhelming.

stephanihecht72
This has to be very frustrating to the editors and agents too.

Patti
Especially if they heard a great pitch and then nothing ever comes in.

stephanihecht72
Or if they have someone come pitch something to them that will never fit in what they are looking for. Like say someone pitches a sweet romance to an erotica publisher

Patti
Exactly. Take the time to pay attention to what the editor or agent is looking for. They all have websites, they all participate in blog interviews, the information is out there. Just Google it. And you can spare yourself being told no thanks at the table with just a little effort on your own part. You know in the end, it's not the amount of appointments you get, it's what you do with them when you are face to face at the table and then the follow-through.

stephanihecht72
I agree with you, Patti. It's the quality not the quantity. You can talk all day, but if it's to the wrong people it won't do you any good.

Patti
No one ever gets bought at the appointment table. They get bought when they send it in, and it fits the requirements of the specific house.
Now, that being said, of course there are always exceptions to the rule.

stephanihecht72
Such as?

Patti
Crap, I knew you'd ask me that. Ok, they love the pitch, you send it immediately and you are bought up within a month. But, you and I both know that doesn't happen. Hardly ever do you hear someone got bought off a partial. Unless they were already a published author. Because again, it all goes back to follow through. I have heard some authors say they have their partial printed out, prepackaged up and ready to go before they leave for a conference. Then when the appt goes well, they call home and ask hubby to drop it in the mail to the editor. They are so sure of it, they are ready to roll. And that's a good thing.

stephanihecht72
Wow, talk about having your puppies in a pile. But then I guess the sooner you get it out the better. That way you can show the editor how serious you really are.

Patti
Yes, but what if the editor or agent says "Send the full" and you've only got a partial or they say email me with it. Then you aren't ready. Of course we all know the minute they get home from conference the editors and agents desks get piled up with submissions because of just such a thing.
And being professional at the table doesn't hurt either. Don't show up in shorts, a t-shirt or heaven forbid your swim suit and a cover-up cause the appt conflicted with pool time. Show them you mean it. Turn off the cell phone, lose the gum and above all, remember this is the real deal. This is not a practice session. Your practice session is with your critique group, not the editor or agent. They are the real deal.

stephanihecht72
Treat it like it's the most important job interview of your life because it could very well be. That is if you are serious about making writing a career and not a hobby.

Patti
Exactly, cause you only get about 7 minutes to make that impression, pitch that book and answer questions.

stephanihecht72
First impressions means everything when you have such a short time like that too.

Patti
Definitely. I believe it was Nora Roberts who tells writers if they can come up with a dozen reasons why they can't write, then maybe they shouldn't be writing. She's correct. If you want it bad enough, make the sacrifice. If you don't get out of line. If that sounds harsh, then maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your desire to write.
You do have to give up things to write, you can't always be out there having lunch with friends, shopping, doing everything else and not writing. It just doesn't work that way. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

stephanihecht72
It may sound harsh, but it's true. If you want to be successful you have to work on it everyday all day or else it won't happen. I know that if I take one day off I have to work extra hard for two days to make up for it. I do it though because I want this to be a career for me.

Patti
Yes, and as we all know careers are hard to come by nowadays, especially in this economy. Susan Mallery's system starts you off writing 3 pages a day, 5 days a week with weekends off, nights off and holidays off. You work up to 8.5 pages a day over time and that way you can do 4 90,000 books a year consistently and still have time off for emergencies, vacation, edits, revisions and proposals. But you have to work at it.

stephanihecht72
What I liked best was how she said sometimes you can't wait for your muse to show up. That is so true. There are some days when I just don't feel like writing and I have to force myself to do it.

Patti
And it goes back to don't show up at the appt table with an idea in your head. Show up with a book written. Then you don't look foolish when a year goes by before you submit it. I feel you should submit within a month of pitching. Otherwise, you have wasted your time and theirs and someone who really did want a shot at it and was ready to give them what they wanted. Yes, you have to write with or without your muse. Whether you feel like crap or feel good. Whether Star Trek just came out and you want to be the first person in line to see it, or the 221st person. You have to prioritize.

stephanihecht72
Sometimes I have to track my muse down and drag her back by the hair.

Patti
Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard. Otherwise it can't be done.
Now I know we'll catch flak about this because we spoke our true feelings. But Stephani and I are both published. We didn't get this way by playing Spider Solitaire (my vice) or going to see Ryan Reynolds movies (Stephani's vice) as soon as they come out. We got this way by sheer determination and hard work.

stephanihecht72
Or watching Penguins of Madagascar.LOL
My newest vice.

Patti
Or House Hunters dreaming of the house I am going to buy with my 7 digit royalty check. Dreaming is a good thing, so are vices if they are used in the right way.
Motivation is a wonderful thing if it gets you closer to your goal.

stephanihecht72
Patti is right though. To make it in this industry it will take hard work and it will take a lot of sacrifice

Patti
And alot of it is having the best book possible at the right time. Ok, time for us to get off our soap box sand get back to writing (G) We hope you all have a wonderful and safe Happy Memorial Day weekend. Oh yeah, and may your cats yodel better than Stephani can get Peep too!

3 comments:

C.R. Moss said...

great post! thanks for sharing the info.
=)

... a yodelling cat? now that i gotta hear! lol!

Stephani Hecht said...

Thanks, C.R.! Ugly Cat still won't yodel and now she's taken to glaring at me.

Lynn Crain said...

Your muse has met my muse, I see. Dragging her back by the hair sometimes is a necessity because sometimes life can intervene in ways we don't even know.

Still, I love how you talk about a lot of the important aspects in a writer's career: staying on track, agents and selling on proposals. C.R. and I just talked about that the last time we had lunch and I know I said I never will do that again. It can give you headaches if you think about it too long.

The best thing is to just keep writing.

Lynn

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