Career Steps


I have been pretty busy since my last post. I worked through some issues with my book, though the word count has not changed substantially.

I made a new friend who got me hooked into the writing scene in Ottawa. I’ve been attending writers workshops and I am learning a lot about things beyond writing my novel.

I went to a workshop on how to pitch my story to an agent. It was very informative. I learned that my book needs to be clarified some. For instance, I have always said I am writing a Social Science-Fiction novel. In actuality, I may be writing a New Adult Science-Fiction novel, which may fall under the Romance genre. So I have learned that New Adult is the age group of my audience, and I have also learned that there are a lot of keys to pitching.

Some of the things I learned are common sense and others are interesting…

1. You’ll never get an agent or publisher interested by trying to shove your manuscript under a toilet stall. Totally makes sense. Why would anyone think that is okay??? What wasn’t common sense to me was that you shouldn’t have your manuscript with you at all. Seriously, they said to leave it at home. Agents and publishers prefer you have a fully completed manuscript (common sense), unless you are so amazing at pitching that you can sell a book that isn’t written yet. Some authors are that amazing at pitching. I have some work ahead of me, but I also have to finish writing my novel.

2. If they say they want your manuscript, they want you to mail it to them and usually they only need about the first 3 chapters to tell whether or not they will want your book in their portfolio. They don’t expect it right away. Take a couple of days to a week for polishing and then send it to them. They’re busy people and won’t get to it the day it arrives. Be patient.

3. Don’t say you’re nervous… Say you’re excited! They get that we are nervous. It’s normal. Excitement sounds more positive though.

4. They may hate your idea or have just been pitched it by someone else, so have another story ready.

5. Always be upfront if you’re pitching something that is not complete. Tell them it’s a work in progress. It’s more acceptable to be a work in progress if this is your second pitch.

6. You may only get 5 minutes to pitch your book, so make it count. Get your book pitch down to about 25 words. It should be able to fit on a label for the back of your business cards.

7. You may be pitching your story in a short elevator ride after randomly running into an agent or publisher. Have business cards with you at all times.

8. Rejection isn’t a bad thing! They may not be the right people to help you get your book published. This could be because it’s not the type of content they represent. Maybe you’re a non-fiction writer and all they care about is fiction. Maybe you’re trying to publish poetry and they only do non-fiction or textbooks. You want an agent that cares about your work because they will work harder to get you a publisher.

9. Know your book and its characters as well as or better than you know yourself. What did they eat for breakfast? Do they like black licorice?

10. Know the work of the other authors in your genre. They need to be able to compare your writing to that of others. Who influences you? It’s exceptionally good if you can talk about authors they already represent.

11. If you are seriously pursuing a career in writing, everything you do towards that goal can be claimed on your income tax. Professional membership fees to writers associations, receipts for workshops, a couple of conferences per year, etc can be claimed.

The workshop was put on by the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association, which is part of Romance Writers of America. They allow members to be “associates” if they are not writing Romance and I’m excited to get to know this wonderful and accomplished group of writers more. I hope I make a better impression in the future than the girl who’s car battery needed a boost…

Next week I will be attending a workshop on Social Media for Writers. I’m looking forward to learning more about the journey to getting published. I have heard that it is better to focus on your skill as a writer than it is to get too deep into building a social media presence for yourself. If you get too deep into creating your social media presence, it may be difficult for a publisher to work with it and you could put things out into the world that you shouldn’t.

I have started my social media presence on Facebook. In the coming weeks I will be building it up as I learn more about the best ways to use social media to promote my work.

I have noticed that I am part of many groups where people have multiple names. Authors commonly have different pen names for each genre they write. Steampunks often have a Lord or Lady title they don. Roller derby athletes often play under a creative name that expresses who they are on the track. Burlesque dancers have stage names. There may come a time where my social media existence will get extremely complicated in the future.

As far as my book goes currently, I think I will only make minimal progress in the next month or two, but I will keep plugging away. I remember what helped me write the first half was to skip over pain points until I couldn’t postpone them any longer. While that isn’t conducive to “eating ones frogs”, I find it necessary to keep progressing and I think whatever helps me break through blockages is good.

Ciao
R~

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