Moving on

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


In a continuation of my last blog, I want to say "hats off" to another great organization that is helping me along on my writing journey.  At first glance you might not guess from its name, Womens National Book Association, that there is much in it for writers, but after all, where would a book association be without its supply line?

In my brief association with this organization I have witnessed a wonderful synergy within all the entities in a community that pertain to anything BOOK.  On Feb. 19, I attended a perfect "bookstorm." The Charlotte Writers Club and the WNBA combined meetings to present a panel discussion,  From Book Idea to Bookshelf:  The Process and Business of Publishing.  It was open to the public and full of useful information for writers, readers, lurkers, visitors, and more.

Joyce Hostetter and Chris Woodworth (authors) meeting Lynn Bonner and Trisha Miller (guests)

Here are a few gems I picked up from some of the following panel members:

  • Agent Josh Adams, Adams Literary
    • We look for a story we love.  Then we will google you and look at your site. For us the site isn't critical but it tells us how serious you are about your work. The author needs to be comfortable with the media process. Do great writing first then support it with your website.  We look for a good personality fit.
    • The time frame from acquisition to publication can be as short as a year, but is usually one and a half to two years.  With picture books, it can be two to four years
    • Adams Literary always asks the author "what is next"  
  • Independent Editor Betsy Thorpe, Betsy Thorpe Literary Services
    • Some typical turn down phrases editors might use are:
      • not right for my list=we publish "this" but you sent us "that"
      • the shelf is too crowded=too many books of this nature are already printed
      • we already have a book like this on our list
      • too small=not likely too sell over 2000 copies 
  • Kelly Bowen, Publicity Director, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
    • We meet with the author to brainstorm promotion ideas
    • Promotion might include book tours, local and national advertising, social media, and platform building (best thing author can do)
    • (Kelly shared some unique out-of-the-box marketing schemes here)
  • Amanda Phillips, MarComm Manager at distributor/wholesaler Baker & Taylor
    • We do corporate marketing
    • When an author is on TV or radio and their publisher lets us know, we usually see an order spike
  • Independent Bookseller Sally Brewster, owner of Park Road Books in Charlotte
    • The sad fact is that there are more books than readers.  Read more books!
    • We do sell consignment books (self-published) and we take 40% 

Sally Brewster helps Kelly Brown demonstrate some unique marketing strategies. 

  • Lisa Williams Kline, Author the middle-grade novels Eleanor Hill (winner of the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award), The Princesses of AtlantisWrite Before Your Eyes, and the Sisters in All Seasons series
    • Most of my books deal with contemporary stories
    • I've had experience with lots of publishers, and my first two books were not agented
    • I am shy on Face Book, but I do guest blogs and always accept appearances
    • Volunteering at writers organizations (like Charlotte Writers Club and WNBA) helps make contacts
    • I have a web site but I don't blog.  I do what fits my personality
  • Independent Book Marketing, Sales and Promotion Consultant Susan Walker
    • Kudos to Susan for a great job moderating this great panel
If you love to read, write, think about, order, caress or even sniff books, you probably should drop in on WNBA sometime.  

Friday, February 1, 2013


I'm working on the second book.  Yikes!  I never thought I'd hear myself say that. It's exhilarating and daunting and full of completely new territory all at once.  In its young life, this WIP already has a history.  It's not the manuscript I took to work on at Lorin Oberweger's Free Expressions Workshop last October.  I trashed that one after the first round of critiques when it became clear that I would waste my time, money, and grand opportunity for professional input by continuing with this book that I knew in my heart wasn't working.

So, in the kind of crazy, frenzied blitz that can only be fueled by the electric atmosphere of a writers' gathering, I wrote two chapters off the top of my swirling brain.  I salvaged the setting of a castle in Switzerland, but I boldly transformed my YA girl into a middle grade boy protagonist, switched the mood from haunting to humorous, and ventured out of my novel-in-verse comfort zone into prose.

I'm currently on chapter 7 and cruising right a cat picking its way around mud puddles.  I suppose it's typical to have doubts about the second book, but MEOWZERS,  these are some pretty deep water holes I'm tiptoeing around.  Will I be able to pull off prose when I've spent my whole writing life buried in poetry?  Will my experience as a mother of twin boys and former middle grade teacher be enough to generate one viable middle grade boy's voice?  Will I be able to sustain a humorous tone after having lived with such a somber first book for so long?

I really don't know if I can pull any of this off.  But the great thing about being a writer is that we are a needy bunch (lol) which makes us extra good at giving and receiving help and support one to another.  I am forever indebted to organizations like The Institute of Children's Literature, SCBWI, the Highlights Foundation, and Free Expressions Workshops for the excellent instructional input as well as the wonderful network of like-minded spirits I have gained.

As the Beatles told us long ago, "I get by with a little help from my friends."  In the writing world, that means opening yourself up to the best support group available and staying open to the possibilities, even if it means trashing a finished manuscript.