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Friday, October 16, 2009

Contest Winners: Title It!

We challenged all you brilliant minds to come up with suggested titles using the most common romance title words. (Title It Contest! http://redlinesanddeadlines.blogspot.com/2009/09/title-it-contest.html) If you haven't read the entries--in the Comments on that post--you are missing a whole lot of entertainment.

Lots of great and imaginative entries! The winners are:

Born Blue and All Bad (of course, it's the story of Smurfette) - Danica Avet [We couldn't resist the Smurfette]

All the Bad Blue-Bloods' Forbidden Lust for Midnight's Captive Dragon-Mistress - Angelia Sparrow

Forbidden Moon Dream of the Winter Wolf - Sylvia

Winners, you each get one free ebook of your choice from Ellora's Cave or Cerridwen Press. Please email Martha@ellorascave.com, specify book title and format you need, and she will email you the file. Specify that you are the winner of the R&D blog Title It! contest.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Moonlight & Magnolias Conference

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Last weekend I was at the wonderful M&M conference in Georgia. A well-run and enjoyable event. If anything went wrong, it was not visible to the attendees. And that RWA chapter is full of friendly and helpful people.

It started off with pizza and movie on Thursday night. Nothing like a roomful of romance writers watching Romancing the Stone! Numerous people in the audience could recite the dialogue from memory. Friday kicked off with a cold reads session by an editor and agent panel. I've done this type of panel at several other conferences, and it can go very wrong. But M&M did it right--we stayed on track, the samples were limited to one page (max about 250 words), and the editors and agents were frank but tactful and kind. A number of people mentioned later how helpful they found the session. Those of us on the panel were totally entranced by several entries -- Demonville was popular, but the medieval Scottish wetsuit made the biggest hit!

Friday night was, umm, filling. There was a delicious and plentiful buffet of all kinds of yummy things at 6:00. As I was happily stuffing my face, someone said "You're going to the faculty dinner for presenters and speakers at 7:00, aren't you?" What, that event is a dinner? Somehow I'd missed that. So I ended up with a second dinner - I did confine myself to salad and salmon and no dessert for that.

Saturday morning was spent in author appointments. I heard some excellent pitches! More than usualfor a conference, I'd say. I just hope the people I asked to submit to EC actually do so. (It's a fact all editors and agents find amazing, that so many people we invite to submit don't actually do it.)

And in between everything else, lots of time to chitchat with authors and aspiring authors. My favorite part of any writer conference.

All in all, a very productive and pleasant conference.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Editors Answer: Submission Response Times

Question: Your web site says that you will respond within two months. If you, or another publisher, doesn't respond within the timeframe they have stated, should the writer just move on and send it to another publisher? I have yet to submit a manuscript to a publisher. Is it common for publishers to reject manuscripts without response? How is a writer to know how long to wait if stated timeframes aren't met?

Answer: First, be aware that publishers post estimated response times. Sometimes response is much faster, but if the editors are swamped with submissions at some point, it may take longer than stated.

However, always feel free to send a polite email requesting status if it's been longer than stated. (Do not phone call!) We all know emails go astray. Are you sure the publisher received your submission (whether emailed or mailed, for pubs that take paper submissions)? Or they may have replied and you didn't receive it.

At EC, our process is that we acknowledge receipt of each submission within a few business days. Then within eight weeks you will receive either a "no thanks, not right for us" or a notice that your submission has been put in queue for an acquiring editor to take a look at. After that, it could be a few weeks to a few months for a response from that editor.

I can't answer for other publishers. But if you submit to EC and don't hear back, do indeed email to Submissions@ellorascave.com and ask! We respond to every legitimate submission received.

The Editors Answer: Pitch Sessions

What’s a pitch session, what do you say, what do you bring?

Okay, to start with JOIN A WRITING ORGANIZATION. They will teach you all this, have workshops and practice sessions, explain the business to you. If you write romance, consider RWA; for mystery writers, consider MWA. There are lots of other organizations for aspiring and published authors.

Research online. You can find a million articles and blogs about how to pitch to an editor. Okay, to start you off, I’ll mention a fun little video with tips on what to do and illustrations of how not to do it: go to www.writewithus.net and scroll down to the YouTube video link.

Now, the basics:

A pitch session is a very short meeting between an aspiring author and an editor or agent, in which the author briefly describes the book they've written in order to determine if the editor/agent has any interest in considering it as a submission.

1. A standard pitch session is four to eight minutes long. That’s it! There is always a timekeeper who will make sure you get out of the chair and make way for the next person on the schedule.

2. Never, ever bring your book to a pitch session. NEVER! You may bring your own notes to talk from, and some editors will accept a card or one sheet of paper containing your blurb and contact info.

3. Start with the basic facts: genre, length, and status. Most editors expect that anyone pitching to them has a completed or almost completed manuscript ready to submit if requested.

4. Provide a two to three minute summary of your story: the hook, the basic setting and time period, a few words about each main character, and a very high-level and fast summary of the plot.

5. The editor or agent will ask any questions they have, if there is time. They will then express whether they're interested in having you submit the story and will tell you how to do so.

Every editor and agent I've ever spoken to agrees that they cannot tell at all from a pitch session whether a book will be well written or not. The point is to weed out the books that are not appropriate for that publisher or agency. If they don't take poetry or young adult, if they are overfilled with romantic suspense and not currently looking at more, or if your story description contains elements they know they are not interested in - they can let you know that. But they can't tell from your pitch if you can write a good story. Some of the most polished pitches are for incredibly poor books, and some of the most nervous and inept pitching authors send in wonderful manuscripts. We've got to actually see the story before we can judge that.

Sometimes there are more "private" venues for pitching that accommodate lengthier sessions. A writing group may schedule an agent or editor to come to their meeting and hold pitches. Or at something like EC's upcoming Romanticon, where we can allow a little more time to talk to aspiring authors. But the sessions will still be pretty short. You need to convey your book in a concise way. The extra time is usually available for talking about the publishing company or for answering aspiring author questions about the whole process.

Did that help? Questions?

Friday, October 2, 2009

"It's All Jade Lee's Fault"

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I had to promise the tableful of writers to blame it on Jade. She'd made the mistake of dragging me over to them and then leaving, so they decided she should take the fall.

Ever wonder what really goes on at writer conferences? The stuff that's not on the official program, the things that aren't those serious workshops about craft and professionalism and the business of writing? I'm at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference, put on by the Georgia Romance Writers. My first time here, a great conference! But I don't think the conference organizers planned on some of the "events". It's those casual discussions and at-the-table roundtables that are the most fun.

What happens when you've got a group of authors who've had, oh, maybe just a tad too much wine with dinner, and they decide to draft a story proposal? And there's a Harlequin editor and me, from Ellora's Cave, in the room -- and they want to come up with something they could pitch to either of us.

Okay, without further ado:
The Sheik and the Skank by Seressia Glass, Anna Steffl, J. Perry Stone, Jade Lee & Ana Aragon. An erotic comedy. (No bestiality, despite the camel.)

She is her own goodwill ambassador. From trailer to tent. She travels through life looking for a hop, a skip and a hump.

She's not the only one with big hair.

He knows how to rock the casbah. His first words to her were "Get off or you'll get fleas."

The camel wasn't the only thing humped.

There was only one thing that can come between an Arab and his camel and it was the skank from New Jersey. He always wanted a little coucous.

Honest to god, they actually wrote this down and gave me permission to post it here. I'm waiting to see what happens when the wine wears off. But meanwhile, stay tuned for tomorrow's post of these authors discussing "one click too far"--what happens when you are doing online, ahem, "research" for your sex scenes and you keep looking a little further.