Florida Romance Writers Conference

Saturday was a one-day mini-conference for Florida Romance Writers. The day started off with an inspirational keynote address by NY Times bestselling author Carla Neggers. She spoke about the ups and downs of a writing career and how we balance these setbacks and successes.

Carla Neggers

A panel followed with agent Marlene Stringer, Cleis Press Publisher Karen Thomas, Harlequin editor Charles Griemsman, and Berkley editor Kristine Swartz.

Editors Panel

Charles from Harlequin mentioned how he works with short category, contemporary romance series. He prefers alpha males who are wealthy and passionate, hard men with an underlying vulnerability. Tycoons and ranchers are ever popular as are stories with babies. He looks for books that focus on romantic tension and internal conflict. The Special Edition line is more family-oriented but its stories are still sensual.

Kristine from Berkley likes epic and urban fantasy, sexy romance, women’s fiction, and some mystery. She likes humor in stories as well.

Karen Thomas spoke about her publishing house that produces erotica and gay/lesbian fiction.

Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Agency is looking for commercial fiction but no erotica, inspirational, or space opera. She says there aren’t any bans in romance anymore like there used to be for musician or actor heroes.

Regarding genre fiction, paranormal isn’t dead if it’s something fresh. New Adult is a hard sell because booksellers don’t know where to shelve it. The Chick Lit label is gone, but the stories are still there. As for historical romance, it’s on the rise again. Regency, Victorian, and Scottish settings remain popular. Stories set in France do not fare as well. Books today need more diversity to reflect our society.

We ate a box lunch following the agent and editor panel. Then Dr. Debra Holland spoke about how she became a bestselling indie author.

Deborah Holland

At 2:00, I gave a workshop titled Marketing on a Shoestring.

Nancy Speaking

Then I listened to my friends Carla Neggers, Alyssa Maxwell, Kat Carlton, and Traci Hall speak about Revitalizing Your Career. A general booksigning followed with Murder on the Beach booksellers present.

Career Panel

As it is with any conference, networking with other authors was the best part. Now I am looking forward to SleuthFest next month.

Nancy VickiLisa DebbyGrahl

Contest Alert!

LAST DAY! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Golden Palm Writing Contest Sponsored by Florida Romance Writers is now accepting entries.

Contest1  Print

Summer is heating up, which means it’s time to enter the Golden Palm Contest. Get great feedback and a chance to place your work in front of leading industry pros. At least THREE final judges for each category! Open to non-published & published authors.

Categories & Final Judges:

Contemporary:
Editor: Leah Hultenschmidt, Grand Central Publishing
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks
Agent: Beth Campbell, Bookends

Historical:
Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Jordy Alberts, Booker Alberts Literary Agency
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Young Adult/ New Adult:
Editor: Lauren Smulski, Harlequin Teen (Young Adult)
Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency
Agent: Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary Agency
Editor: Mary Altman (New Adult)

Paranormal Category:
Editor: Peter Senftleben, Kensington Publishing
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press

For complete rules & information, visit Golden Palm Contest

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Goodreads Giveaway: Enter to win one of two signed advance reading copies of Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at a dude ranch turns deadly when they uncover family secrets best left buried. Humor, romance, & murder. Enter Here

 

 

It Takes A Village: Self-Publishing Tips

“It takes a village” to be an author today, says Deborah Richardson from Dremservices.com at a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers. “You can’t do it all yourself.” She suggested that you first create your mission statement so you know who you are and where you’re going. Figure out what jobs you can do and what you should hire out. Set realistic deadlines. And never plan on being your own editor because you’ll fill in your own mental holes.

Debbie Richardson

Steps to Take on the Road to Success

Author
First you have to write the book.

Editors
This may include people such as a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader.

Cover Designer
Often you cannot see the quotes on the front of a Kindle book cover, so maybe put your author endorsements elsewhere. If you use a stock photo, try to change it somehow to make the cover more unique.

Beta Readers
Find two to four beta readers for your book. Know them. Trust them. Be very careful who you choose since “piracy is getting to be a really big deal. It is our job to educate,” meaning we should make the public aware of this issue and why it’s not all right to download free, unauthorized copies of our books. Write take-down letters to the sponsored sites. These pirates can alter your work without permission.

Formatter
Decide if your time is worth it to do your own formatting or to hire this job out.

Pre-Publication Marketing
This includes soliciting advance reviews, attracting pre-orders, scheduling a Facebook launch party or a blog tour. Don’t give away a free copy of your new title as a prize during these events. Give away a gift card or a backlist title instead so people won’t wait to see if they won your new book. Marketing can be “all-consuming.” It’s a lot of work for an author, so hiring someone to coordinate your efforts might help.

Social Media
Decide what you can do and what to hire out plus what level of help you want. “Be as professional as you can be” in your online connections.

How do you Pick your Village?
Through word-of-mouth, research online, and networking. Speak to potential candidates that you feel you can work with. “Collect business cards wherever you go.”

Building a relationship with bloggers is one of the best things you can do. “Bloggers should be your best friends.” You can check their analytics to see how much traffic there is on their sites. Find out what works for each individual book and target your efforts accordingly. Even book bloggers specialize in certain genres.

How to Take your Village into the Future
Have your career mapped out. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the last book launch. Set new deadlines and goals. Your village should work with you toward a common goal.

Find Deborah Richardson Online:

Website: http://www.Dremservices.com
Twitter: @DREMServices
Facebook: dremservices

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By the way, if you missed my radio show this past week, you can catch it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheair/2014/10/10/florida-cozy-mystery-author-nancy-j-cohen-on-authors-on-the-air

 

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Enter the 2013 Golden Palm Contest for Unpublished Romance Writers!

The summer is heating up, and so is the Golden Palm Contest sponsored by Florida Romance Writers. If you’re an unpublished romance writer looking to change that status, you need to get your entry in. We have a hot lineup of final judges and a track record of getting requests.

Plus you’ll get great feedback from our published author first round of judges (including me for the paranormal category).

So, while you’re making those summer plans, be sure to add “Enter the Golden Palm Contest” to your calendar! Categories include: Single Title, Historical, Paranormal, New Adult, Young Adult and Short/Long Category Romance.

Final Round Judges are:

Short/Long Category: Allison Carroll, Harlequin

Single Title: Patience Bloom, Senior Editor, Harlequin

Historical: Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor, Sourcebooks

New Adult: Laurie McLean, Foreward Literary

Young Adult: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Foreward Literary

Paranormal: Ann-Leslie Tuttle, Senior Editor, Harlequin

Entry is $20 for Florida Romance Writers members and $30 for nonmembers.

Contest ends August 15th. All information to enter is on http://www.frwriters.org/contest/

What Readers Want

Florida Romance Writers was lucky to have Columnist Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly speak to us about What Readers Want. Basically, they want authors to be polite and respectful toward them. They want their expectations to be met. And they want to know if you’ve reissued a book they might already have.

Barbara Vey (800x600)

Readers may be disappointed if an author breaks her promise to readers. For example, the reader expects a certain type of reading experience, and the author takes a favorite series in another direction. This might sour the reader toward buying any more books in this series.

Readers may not like it when an author switches genres and the reader is expecting the same type of book as before. Either use a pseudonym or indicate by the cover that this is a different genre.

Readers aren’t happy when they buy a book only to find they already have it on their shelves, because it’s a reissue. Have it say so somewhere on the cover or inside the front pages.

Readers blame the author for anything and everything: bad covers, bad editing, etc. They don’t understand that publishers may be at fault. All they know are authors.

Readers hold authors in high regard and expect courtesy and respect in return.

Avoid politics online (and religion) or you’ll risk alienating your fans.

Readers who post reviews shouldn’t give away significant plot points.

To gain reader interest, Barbara advises authors to interact online with readers, put out questions, chat as though with a friend, and be yourself.

Readers, what would you add?

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I was pleased to receive Member of the Month award from FRW. Here’s a photo of me with FRW president Rose Lawson, and another one of FRW Board members Heidi Lynn Anderson, Rose Lawson, and Lisa Manuel with lifetime achievement award winners Linda Conrad, Heather Graham, and Joan Hammond.

Nan Award2013     FRW BoardJan13 (800x600)
We went to lunch afterward at the Field, an Irish pub. Here I am with Barbara Vey. And that’s the rest of the gang!

Nan Barbara Vey   FRWLunch Jan2013