On Saturday, January 28, 2015 I had the good fortune to attend the Long Island Chapter of the Romance Writers (LIRW) Open House at the South Huntington Library on Long Island in New York. Unfortunately, I was a tad late, but not that late that I was not able to catch the panel of published authors. The panel consisted of Michele Lang, Jennifer Gracen, Meara Platt, Pamela Burford, and Patty Blount. Unfortunately, Jeannie Moon, who helped organize the event, was unable to attend at the last minute.
The panel discussed many topics including how each was fortunate to get published. Here are some key points that stuck in my head enough, that I wrote them down and answers to some questions that were posed (I might add my two cents in at times):
- Support from people not related to you is key. Many of the authors on the panel expressed how being a part of LIRW has been a wonderful place for support. They are able to speak to their peers, established or not, and learn about the industry. They support each other by critiquing works, sharking marketing ideas and much more.
- Social media, especially Twitter is a wonderful networking and marketing tool One author expressed that without Twitter, she would have never have met one of her publishers. You never know who is lurking out there! Twitter is networking 140 characters at a time. Don’t rely on your publisher (if you have one) to do all your marketing for you. (My thought is, what your publisher thinks is your target reader, may not be what is your target reader really is. You think it is a paranormal book they say urban fantasy, but face it, it is paranormal!) It is amazing how one tweet can multiply to thousands in the matter of seconds. Facebook is an awsome tool to interact with your fans. Give them a piece of who you are as a person. You don’t have to tell them anymore than you want to, but let them know a little more than what is in your bio. As a reader, talking to an author I love makes me want everyone else I know how awsome that author is. I will share and retweet that author. Loyalty is established.
- Put your eggs in more than one basket. One publisher might like one genre, but not another. One on the panel has, I believe, 3 different publishers that she releases books with. I personally know some authors who are with a publisher with a certain genre, then wanted to do something else and self-published……which leads me to….
- Self-Publishing is becoming more acceptable in the industry. If you can find a publisher willing to contract you, try it. There are actually authors who are self-published that are for RITAs this year. BTW congratulations to Ms. Blount for her nomination!
- Did you know that according to industry a romance must have a happy ending? Some might even let happy for now books through. If you are a writer and want to know more about where your writing fits in the industry standards, the Romance Writers Association has a multiple resources to help you with that.
- If you are working on more than one genre, work on the one that has characters who are talking to you in your head the loudest. That is who you write. When a character stops bothering you, then you can work on something else. If there are multiple characters screaming at you, then pick the one you have a deadline for.
- Do you have many short stories? Keep them, you never know when one of those short stories may lead to something more. If you have many, perhaps publishing as a compilation, or collaborate with other authors and make an anothogy.
- After the panel was done, we went into the atrium of the library and had refreshments and we got to mingle. Networking at its best. I enjoyed meeting many of the published authors, and better yet meeting those still unpublished, but hopeful.
The RWA and their local chapters are great resources for any author. On the RWA website, there are many resources that can help you on many of the topics I mentioned about. If you have questions, I have put the links to LIRW and RWA below.
Please note, these are my thoughts and recollections of what I heard at the meeting. If you attended and feel I left something out or got something wrong, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!