For me, RWA National is a natural time to take stock and set a plan for the next twelve months. A year ago I’d almost completed the McDaniel Romance Writing Program and had decided that my manuscript needed re-writing rather than revising. In Atlanta I was thinking about the changes I planned to make, and I charged my batteries by attending lots of great writing craft workshops and inspirational talks by my favorite authors.
I also went to a Spotlight presentation by St Martin’s Press, and I made a particular note of the introductory remarks by Jennifer Enderlin, who said: “Dream big. Have unrealistic exectations. Think as big as you possibly can.” I took that advice to heart, and it’s locked in there. After all, if I don’t believe in my abilities, why should anyone else?
The last twelve months have whizzed by more or less according to plan. On Friday morning, I’ll kick off my search for an agent with a face-to-face pitch appointment. I know from my past business life that I’m not a whizz at interviews, but I’m guessing that I won’t be the only one with that problem. I’ve prepared well enough to get the fundamentals of my story across, and as long as I do that, the agent should be able to judge whether it’s worth her time to find out more. Fingers crossed.
When I get home, my next move (probably in September) will be to start sending out query letters. I think the stories I write would be a good fit for traditional publishing, and while I’m dreaming big, I’d love to find an agent who believes in my writing, an editor who can help me make my stories as good as they can be, and a publisher with the distribution and marketing clout to give me the chance to grow a readership.
That’s my dream, and I’m going to chase it hard, but I’m not naive enough to rely on it. I have to find an agent and an editor who believe they can sell my work, and that’s not controllable. In the words of one of my judges from the recent Fool For Love contest: “I think you’re close. It’s just a matter of finding an editor interested in the story. I don’t believe any rejection you get is because there is fault in your writing. You just have to find the right match.”
Or to borrow from another correspondent: “There are so many different kinds of readers looking for their kinds of books that you can see why publishers’ marketing depts. tear their hair out. And you can also see why a rejection from one editor just means that that’s not her kind of story, it doesn’t mean that the story isn’t good.”
So at RWA this year I’ll be choosing career-focused presentations that help me get my head around my two priorities for the upcoming year: giving the traditional track my absolute best shot, and deciding what to do next if that doesn’t work out. There’s plenty of great stuff to choose from, but my highlighter immediately hovered over these workshops:
The Hard-and-Fast Rules for the Kick-Ass Query and Synopsis (Nicole Resciniti & Julie Ann Walker)
What Good Is an Agent? (Steven Axelrod, Bella Andre, Liliana Hart & Kristin Nelson)
The Slow Writer’s Guide To Making A Living (Courtney Milan)
Indie Success with No Publishing History (Melody Anne, Kathleen Brooks & Liliana Hart)
What’s your dream? Are you chasing it right now, or are you taking a more pragmatic approach?