Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Notes from the NOLA Editor/Agent Panel

Had a great evening last night with the NOLA Stars and the editor/agent panel. Sitting along with me was also Leah Hultenshmidt and Lori Wilde. I thought I share with all of you who might not have made it, and certainly for all of you who just want a "re-cap".

What is your ideal writer?
It was nice to see this question come up. If you didn't get a chance to read yesterday's post, make sure to read Susan's post yesterday.
Each of us all tended to highlight the same things. Sure, we mentioned the need for a good voice but the key was also someone who wanted to build a career. Lori highlighted the need to take editing notes and certainly to grow from that editorial advice. I know this is somehting I have pushed frequently. We want someone we can really work with and since we do edit, that means we have a big factor to consider.
Favorite set up or theme in stories?
These next two questions really hit home that a lot of writers really are missing the mark when it comes to deciding stories to write. This is just a twist of what we see as a trend in writing. Lori mentioned that Entangled is really looking for stories with those classic "category" romance twists (i.e relationships with your best friends brother, etc.). She did note that since this is a new venture for them, they are pretty much looking for everything. Leah noted that if your story is something that is really overdone, then you have to really find something new and it can't be a simply plot twist. The key example would be those "paranormal brotherhood" stories. These have been really tapped into so finding something new is crucial. As for myself, I stole a line that Leah had in Italy. I really don't want to answer this question since authors will jump on this and think it is what we want. I did follow it up by saying that we really don't want to see carbon copies of things in print.
What do we hate to see right now in stories (the reverse of the last on)?
Extension on the above question. Over-done stories were the big thing. The other note I added was simply not liking stories that look like it is a fill in the blank worksheet. Show that you understand HOW to use those techniques, not that you just used the tecniques.
Thoughts on E-book distribution?
Lori and Leah covered this one since they were the editors. Obviously Entangled is focusing on the digital market. Their big issue was the cost of doing print runs for their category stories. Simply not worth it. Leah noted that Source continues to release both print and e-book of each of their stories and there isn't a single e-line. She did extend on this with some great ideas. It isn't a matter of just providing e-book offers, but more of an issue of how you market the story. It is far too easy to just unload stories to the readers, but how do you "break through all of the noise" and make sure your story makes it to the reader. This is something I have been saying all along.
What is the difference between romance and Women's Fiction?
I fielded this question. You can obviously review my notes here on this blog on the subject and certainly over with the Writer's Digest blog post. The key we all stressed was to simply look at the story arch. If it is dealing with the romance and the relationship and you have the HEA, then it is a romance. If it is on understanding the female world, then we are looking at a women's fiction story.
Our take on the gate-keepers, primarily sites such as Good Reads, Smart Bitches and so forth?
It was nice to see that all three of us had the same thoughts. Obviously we don't want to exclude these readers, but, in reality, the everyday readers are not reading these sites. They are still finding their books in bookstores. Leah noted that she thought she had heard that at least 35% of the readers are still finding their books in bookstores. We all noted that this just provides one more extension for authors to get their books out there to the readers, especially the impulse e-book readers that just like to click and purchase.
What are out submission guidelines for authors who have already been published?
All three of us stated the same thing. If we know of who are you are, then we might ask for less, but we will still be looking for some sort of writing sample. The thing is that you may be changing direction with your writing and we need to get a feel for how you approach your story. I noted that it is always important to see if your voice has kept up with the changing market. Still, the consensus was there that you have no short-cut when it comes to being previously published, although we each did have exceptions.
What is our take for the need for websites for authors, both published and un-published?
Websites were very important. We each had our different takes on this.
Leah noted that she does like to Google an author who has a project she is interested in. For these authors, having something on a website for both published and unpublished authors was crucial. Both Lori and Leah noted that we needed to see the information on your books, reviews were BIG and certainly contact information. A brief bio was great but make sure to control how much you put out there. I added to this noting that I do believe that, like any website design, you want to make sure people will come back to the site. This means to keep an site active - especially with blogs.
How important do we feel social media is for authors?
Use it but don't abuse it. Make sure you have a professional public face and certainly take advantage of it when you are marketing books.
Does being previously published give you an "in" when submitting to editors/agents?
Again, we all returned to the prior question about published authors. We really look at sales and we really look at reviews. The only "in" you get is if you had an amazing career. Still, we all noted that we want to see what you have done and don't be shy about. Tell us. Show us on your website. This is your career and you need to highlight what you have.
What are our submission guidelines and timelines?
I always laugh at this question coming from authors. Sure, we gave everyone our answers on this one and we highlighted the process but, in all honesty, that information is public knowledge. All editors and agents are very clear on our answers for this one. I guess I would also add that if you are at a conference, the odds are you have a chance to pitch to one of the editors or agents. If that is the case, then you don't need to know the answer to this.
Suggestion on this one? Maybe it would be a good idea for conference coordinators to just insert this information in the published material that goes out to the writers at the conference.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Scott. Some great information here to keep in mind.