Unfortunately, I won’t be able to to go to Nationals this year, but if I were going to be there, here are the panels I wouldn’t miss and why:

  • The Google Book Settlement – Jan Constantine, General Council of the Authors Guild.  The Google thing (as I technically like to call it) is very confusing, changing every day, and will impact a lot of people.  It’s vital to understand how it affects you and what rights you have. Thurs., 2-3 p.m.
  • What Not to Write – author Eloisa James and Avon editor Carrie Ferron. This is basically a trend session, and those are always interesting.  However, they also need to be taken with a grain of salt and the knowledge that what’s a taboo at one house could be perfectly acceptable at another. Thurs., 2-3 p.m.
  • How to Use Networking without Becoming a User – Tanya Michna.  I don’t know the presenter, but the topic is certainly eye-catching. So much of promotion and even selling can be about who you know or someone putting in a good word for you. But how do you reach out to people without seeming needy? Thurs., 3:15-4:15
  • Straight Talk, Librarians to Writers – John Charles, Susan Gibberman, and Deborah Schneider.  The library market is vital.  These longtime champions of romance in libraries will help you make the most of the market – going over what libraries can do for you, what you can do for them, and most especially how to deal with librarians who might not be so inclined to feature romance. Fri., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Writing the Hot Historical – agent Lucienne Diver, Janet Mullany, Pam Rosenthal.  I want hot, emotionally complex historicals.  But with humor too–see Neurotica below. Write them and send them to me.  Fri., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Online  Promotion – Lori Foster, Jenna Petersen, Michelle Buonfiglio, Danielle Jackson.  These ladies are the experts – from both sides of field, both authors and reviewers.  Fri., 11-noon
  • Neurotica: How adding humor can jumpstart your career like crazy – author Emily Bryan.  No matter what your writing style, you always need a touch of humor.  And Emily is a master.  She knows how to really hook readers with that first line, too.  Fri., 2-3 p.m.
  • Learn to Rewrite – author Anna DeStefano.  Every author is going to have her own process when it comes to edits and rewrites. But if you struggle with revisions, having some extra tips never hurts. Because an author who can’t revise or refuses to rewrite won’t stay published long.  Sat., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Make it Happen: 10 tips to breaking in or breaking back in – authors Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. So many authors are in this place.  I think the biggest key is going to be persistence.  But that’s only one.  Christie and Faye have nine more.  Sat., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Anatomy of a Bestseller – editor Chris Keeslar, authors Angie Fox and C.L. Wilson. This was originally my proposal, so of course I think everyone should go. 😉  Angie Fox and C.L. Wilson both hit the national bestseller lists with debuts. Being the rational, scientifically minded person that I am, I wondered what traits the books might share that could have helped them sell so well without any kind of name recognition. This panel will discuss some of their commonalities as well as specific efforts from the authors and publisher.  Sat., 11-noon
  • How to Catch Flies: Professionalism and choosing your business reputation – agent Laura Bradford, Jennifer Schober. There are a few authors I’d met at various conferences and without even reading a word, I thought I’d like to work with them.  They seemed pleasant, professional, well-organized, and promotional minded. This panel will give you an idea of how to project that  image. Sat., 12:45-1:45
  • The Billionaire Tycoon’s Secret Promotional Baby: Making the Most of Online Marketing – authors Carrie Lofty, Ann Aguirre, Barbara Carridad Ferrer; Smart Bitches’ Sarah Wendell; DearAuthor’s Jane Litte. Though there might be some overlap from the other Online Promotions panel, with publishers not having as many ad dollars, online promo is more important than ever and having numerous strategies at your disposal is essential. 
  • Why Publishing is Making You Crazy and What You Can Do About It: the Tao of publishing – agent Steve Axelrod, author Julie Anne Long. Learn what you can control and what you can’t in the business and focus on what matters most.  There’s so much author anxiety out there right now that this is a fantastic reminder of what to let go of and how to do it. Sat., 2-3 p.m.
  • Dorchester Spotlight Editor Chris Keelsar presents what Dorchester does, what we’re looking for (hint: dragons), what’s next, and some exciting new projects and opportunities.  Bring your questions!  Sat., 2-3

 

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Over at DearAuthor, Jane has highlighted some upcoming historicals that defy tradition, including:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley   runaway       to-tempt-a-knight1

Meanwhile, I’m heading out to Orlando for the RT convention.  Up-to-minute happenings will be posted to Twitter/DorchesterPub with the label #RT09.   

Award announcements to come Friday evening.  And because I’m not technologically advanced enough to own a cell phone with a camera, pictures will follow as soon as I get back.

Angie James has an excellent post on pitching today, advising authors craft their main pitch into the length of a Twitter update (140 characters).  Brilliant!

As I’ll be taking a few hours of pitch sessions this weekend at the New England romance writers conference in Boston, it’s a topic that’s definitely been on my mind.  In fact, Jessica Anderson–newly minted RITA nominee–asked for some tips to share in the workshop she’s running Friday evening.  And at the risk of stealing her thunder, here’s what I suggested:

I think the biggest things for folks to know is there’s no *wrong* way to pitch.  As long as the writer has done her homework and targeted the editor or agent carefully, 90% of the time, she’s going to get a request. 

 

The pitches that stick with me tend to be the ones that summarize the book in a really quick way–it’s Gilmore Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or in Regency England, a nobleman has so many female friends he can’t get a date and has to learn how to man-up (I totally stole that from one of my new authors, so no fair using that one).  The pitches that immediately pique my interest are ones in which the author can identify what makes the book different–a setting, a profession, a situation you just don’t see all that often, a playful or intriguing title.

 

I like to treat a pitch as a conversation–give and take, back and forth.  It’s a little harder for me to have someone reading a prepared summary, but at the same time, if that’s what it takes to make the author less nervous, that’s absolutely fine.  Most editors and agents know that a person’s ability to pitch usually has nothing to do with her ability to write.  It’s really the pages that sell the story.

Really want to go to a conference this year, but struggling with justifying the cost in this economy?  How does a tax-writeoff trip to Vegas sound?

Intrigued?  Then you’ll definitely want to check out KillerCon, a new convention geared toward published authors,  aspiring writers, and readers of Thrillers, Paranormal Romance, and Horror.  The event is Sept. 17-20.  Tickets cost $125 and the hotel rooms are $80/night.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Keynote speakers already on board include Heather Graham and L.A. Banks, horror writers Edward Lee and Brian Keene, and multi-genre author Joe R. Lansdale.

The conference is being organized by event-planner and author Wrath James White.  He just sounds like he comes straight from a J.R. Ward novel, no?  Looks it, too:

wrathjw

Wrath is amazingly talented, amazingly organized, and it sounds like this will be a great time.