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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘RWA’

RWA 2017 Overview

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 4, 2017

I had a wonderful time at #RWA17, the Romance Writers of America national conference. The site rotates each year, and this time it relocated to Orlando, Florida at a hotel not far from our condo there. Thus I commuted to the Dolphin Resort on a daily basis. Sessions began at 8:30 every morning, although I got there by 8:00 to cruise the goody room and see who I could run into at the conference lobby. On the left, here I am with Jane Ederlyn and Tina Stitzer. On the right, I’m with Pam Stack.

IMG_3239   IMG_3242

Before I get into summaries of what I learned, I want to mention that in addition to the educational aspects, networking is a prime goal of mine at these events. I was happy to see many of my fellow members from Florida Romance Writers as well as mystery author Joanna Campbell Slan from our Florida MWA chapter. Here are photos of all of us having fun. Below are Tina Stitzer, Elayne Cox, Kristin Wallace, Victoria Pinder, and Jane Ederlyn on the left. On the right is Joanna Campbell Slan, Melanie McCarthy, Zelda Benjamin and me.

IMG_0222   IMG_3234

Publisher booksignings meant giveaways, and I took home a collection of books to last months if not years. I only selected the ones in my favorite genres so as not to be greedy. Indie authors had their own signing event too. Signing below are Zelda Benjamin, Lynnette Hallberg, and Heather Graham.

IMG_0238IMG_0240IMG_0258 IMG_3240

Then there was the massive “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing that raised $44,163.59 on behalf of ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Florida Literacy Coalition. According to ProLiteracy, the amount donated from this Literacy Autographing over the years has helped 40,000 adults learn to read.

Reading is what it’s all about, and we authors learned how to reach readers through marketing skills until it felt like steam coming out of my ears with info overload. When I’ll have time to implement any of this information is your guess as well as mine.

I especially liked the luncheons, where we could meet new people at our tables, and the mixer with librarians, booksellers, and bloggers. Individual sessions with industry reps were also helpful. In my next few posts, I’ll try to summarize the workshops to the best of my ability.

For more photos, Click Here

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Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

RWA 2010: Conclusion

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 9, 2010

REPORT ON RWA NATIONAL CONFERENCE

 Friday, July 30 and Saturday, July 31

Reinventing Yourself with bestselling author JAYNE ANN KRENTZ .

 Jayne had to reinvent herself numerous times, from writing futuristics to contemporaries to historicals.  She takes her “core story” and puts it into a marketable setting.  Names she’s written under are Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, and Jayne Castle.

Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz

“Sooner or later, you will have to reinvent yourself.”  Jayne offered three rules for writers to heed:                                      

1.  Identify your core story: conflicts, relationships, archetypes, and themes that appeal to you as a writer.  Keep it fresh over time.  Writers who want to survive must be able to adapt.

2.   Know the market.  Be familiar with subgenres and where your core story fits in.

3.  Understand the importance of fictional landscape to readers. Each genre requires a particular landscape with conventions and reader expectations.  Adjust your core story to fit that landscape.

I went to a couple of workshops on Digital Publishing.  With so many Epubs popping up, writers are cautioned to evaluate them before submitting their work. Look at such things as cover art, frequency of releases, cover copy, and genre.  Read a few of their books to see how well they’re edited and if you like them. Be wary of too many releases at once because titles can get lost in the crowd and there won’t be any standout successes. The same goes for your own schedule. Readers can get overwhelmed if you release too many titles in succession. Space them out by at least 8 weeks.

 Digital pubs may pick up a series started elsewhere and may be interested in putting your backlist into digital format. The benefits of going with a digital pub instead of doing it on your own?

  • Editing
  • Cover Art
  • Promotional Tools
  • Established Reader Base

ANGELA JAMES gave a spotlight on Carina Press.  She spoke on how to submit to this digital first imprint and what they do in terms of online marketing.

Career Planning in a Changing Environment 

Issues important to authors were discussed in this seminar with agents KRISTIN NELSON, STEVE AXELROD, and KAREN SOLEM.

  •  Do we want to release simultaneously in print and in ebook?  Do ebooks cannabilize other sales?
  • Make sure you’re covered if your contract is cancelled arbitrarily (i.e. so you don’t have to pay back your advance)
  • 25% of net versus 25% of retail price—the former is harder to track.  Ebook royalty rates are still in a flux.  Consider renegotiating your current contracts re ebook royalties.
  • Classic publishing model strengths are turning into weaknesses
  • Independent bookstores are in trouble and that will jeopardize hardcover sales
  • Publishers are trying to control all rights that may come down the road someday
  • New opportunities for authors are out there.  In between print books, you could publish novellas or short stories in digital format.  You can bring your own out of print books back to life on the digital platform.
  • The biggest question is still how to get your work noticed.
  • Authors are forging direct connections with fans through social networking. The challenge here is balancing the time requirements with writing the next book.
  • If your career isn’t moving forward, it’s time to diversify.  Consider writing a bigger book. Do what you always do but in a different way.  If you decide to write in more than one genre, ask yourself if you have time, if you are prolific enough, and if publishing in more than one genre will cannibalize your own sales.

 Fight Scenes with popular author Angela Knight was a very useful workshop. I’m not going to repeat what she said here except to say I scribbled notes the entire time.  She could have used another hour to complete her presentation and have a Q&A session but what she said was helpful. Some of it was common sense like save your biggest fight scene and worst villain for last. She offered some great ideas which hopefully I can deploy.

I also attended Publisher Booksignings and collected lots of free books signed by the authors. These are great for keeping up with what’s current in a genre.  The Carina Press open house with cocktails and snacks was also fun.

Alyssa Day

Paranormal Romance Author Alyssa Day

Ann Aguirre

Science Fiction Author Ann Aguirre

The RITA and Golden Heart Awards Dinner and Ceremony was Saturday night. Everyone dressed up and excitement was in the air as we prepared to hear who’d won these prestigious awards.

RITA Awards Dinner

RITA Awards Dinner

RITA Awards Dinner

Sharon Hartley, Nancy Cohen, Allison Chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 The Food
 What are those weird purple vegetables on the plate?

The Gathering was Friday night.  This was the FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal chapter of RWA) Steampunk Ball and Prism Awards with music provided by bestselling science fiction author CATHERINE ASARO.  This took place at the Swan Resort, a short walk from the adjacent Dolphin. At the buffet, we had a choice of Roast Beef and Chicken, various salads, poached potatoes, roasted vegetables, and delectable desserts. The room was decorated with style and many of the folks dressed up in period attire.  It was fun watching the costume contest and meeting so many new people. This is definitely an event I’d attend again. Kiss of Death chapter also has a chocolate party that’s fun if you belong to that chapter.

The Gathering

The Gathering

Lizzie Newell

Author Lizzie Newell

 PRISM Award Winners:

Dark Paranormal: Immortal Danger by Cynthia Eden

Erotica: Secrets in Stone by Radclyff

Fantasy: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Futuristic: Close Encounters by Katherine Allred

Light Paranormal: Secret Life of a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks and Wild Blue Under by Judi Fennell

Novella: Belong the Night by Cynthia Eden

Time Travel: Viking Heat by Sandra Hill

Steampunk Ball

Steampunk Ball

Congratulations to all!  It was a great conference.  I met many new friends whom I hope to see again at future events.

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Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

RWA 2010: Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 5, 2010

RWA NATIONAL CONFERENCE, ORLANDO 2010

Thursday, July 29

The morning’s annual RWA meeting was followed by a keynote luncheon featuring NY Times bestselling author Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb. 

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts signs her books

 NORA ROBERTS Keynote Luncheon

Nora spoke about how technology changed from when she started writing in the days of typewriters.  Writers used to go to the library for research, wrote letters by hand, and made phone calls on land line telephones.  RWA started in Houston in the early 1980s, and Nora’s friends from those early days stayed with her throughout life.  RWA provides networking and education and is a springboard for publishing. 

Even though technology has changed, there are more opportunities in romance today. She talked about how we have to stay in the pool and avoid excuses like it’s too cold or we’re too tired or there are too many people crowding the water.  Getting published is “supposed to be hard.  Hard is what makes it special.”  And regarding the value of RWA, “No one should have to face the hard alone.” 

Lunch

Lunch with Zelda Benjamin (left) and Sandra Madden (right)

 

Publisher Lou Aronica’s State of the Industry Address at the PAN Retreat

“Slightly down is the new up” in this economy.  Only a few bestselling titles sustain the publishing houses, according to veteran publisher Lou Aronica.  Sales at the bottom of the list are low, as in dozens of copies sold.  It’s very hard to sell a novel today even though many romance programs are fully sustainable.  Sales at Amazon are up while Barnes & Noble sales are flat and Borders is having problems.  Bookstores are in trouble like the CD music stores.  Barnes & Noble realizes their brick-and-mortar stores are in jeopardy because consumers prefer to buy books online.  Amazon buyers purchase books they are looking for in particular. The main problem there is that we cannot duplicate the bookstore browsing experience.  There’s no place for impulse buyers. Amazon tries with their “if you like this book, then you’ll like…” but they mostly recommend bestsellers.  Few readers are discovering new fiction online. 

 E-books are changing everything.  Few people estimate the speed of change.  It was predicted there would be 11 million ebook readers by the end of 2011 but we’ve already reached this level.  3 million iPads were sold by the end of last month.  Before Kindle hit the market at the end of 2007, a few e-reader devices were available but not many people were interested.  Now it’s a different story.  But with soaring e-book sales, consumers don’t want to spend more than $12.99 on an e-book.  This loss in sales revenue concerns publishers and bookstores.  Barnes & Noble is making an effort by allowing consumers to read ebooks for free in their stores and to preview books they see on the shelves that way.  Booksellers may promote the store as a social site for people to hang out, but if nobody buys print books from them, what then?  CD stores went out of business because listeners wanted to buy online.  Readers like the price and convenience of buying e-books online.  It eliminates the need for manufacturing, distribution, and returns.  This means a publisher could potentially make more money by selling an increased number of books for less.  However, marketing is critical because the browsing experience is lost.  Far more effort has to be put into marketing, plus ebook prices have to rise to return a profit.

Publishing to date has been a business-to-business industry.  It goes from publisher to bookseller to consumer.  Now, however, there is a business-to-consumer model, a demand market instead of an impulse market.  New books go unsold because readers know what they want when they go online.  Many publishers don’t have the staff, training, or interest in consumer marketing.  So authors have to take charge of marketing their own work.  As a writer, you need to find a community of readers specific to your book and market directly to them, but this requires time and money.  Social media is a necessity.  Book reviews used to drive sales and so did independent booksellers, but this is not the case anymore.  Bloggers fill this void.  Authors should reach out to bloggers who have a passion for reading.  Again, this can be very time consuming. 

 If no one is printing or distributing the book, why do we need a publisher?  Lou offers these reasons:

  • Editorial input
  • Advances
  • Marketing
  • Multimedia access

More niche publishers are yet to come with expertise in locating readers.  Connecting to individual readers will rise in importance.  Lou foresees a Renaissance and says it’s “a great age to be a writer.”

Lunch

Nancy Cohen, Allison Chase, Sharon Hartley

 Writing  in Multiple Subgenres: the Pros and Cons of Branching Out

Panel with authors ANN AGUIRRE, CYNTHIA EDEN, BETH KERY, ELISABETH NAUGHTON, JULIANA STONE, and BETH WILLIAMSON

I sat next to author LAURA BRADFORD who writes romance and mystery. It was nice to meet her. Panelist ANN AGUIRRE said she keeps her work fresh by writing in multiple genres.  She takes a week off between books.  She wanted to write a science fiction book women could enjoy and that inspired her popular Jax series.  She would not want to settle down writing just one genre.  CYNTHIA EDEN said she writes very fast and can do a draft in six weeks.  The advantage of writing in multiple genres is you can produce as many books as you want although you may need a pseudonym.  You can meet reader expectations in a new genre by writing with the same voice.  “Don’t be afraid” to try a new genre.  The cons of writing multiple genres are:

  • Fans may not cross over if they’re dedicated genre readers.
  • Multiple websites and promo may be necessary for pen names and this can get costly.  
  • Fans want you to stay in the genre they like.
  • It can dilute your brand.  You should be clear with your labeling on your website and other sites.
  • Your publishers may expect you to write two or more books a year.

One author suggests doing double-sided promo items to separate the genres which can save you money.  Connecting websites can be a way to attract crossover readers.  But heed this caveat: “The only thing worse than not selling is overselling.”  In other words, don’t overbook yourself when setting deadlines.  Allow time for vacations, edits, page proofs, blog tours, etc.  And just because Author X writes 10 pages a day doesn’t mean you have to produce the same.  Everyone is different.  Do what suits your lifestyle.

 Paranormals

Panel with authors KELLEY ARMSTRONG, JEANIENE FROST, TERRI GAREY, COLLEEN GLEASON, JULIANA STONE, and CHERYL WILSON

The panelists discussed the differences between paranormal romance and urban fantasy.  Paranormal romance has the happy ever after ending expected in the romance genre along with spin-off sequels, while urban fantasy employs first-person viewpoint and will have the same character recurrent in a series.  However, these lines are blurring as some PNRs may have recurring heroines and some UFs may be less gritty. One author defined fantasy as more Tolkien in scope, while PNR involved “things that go bump in the night.” Whatever the subgenre, world building rules must be consistent.  We may be seeing more stories based on mythology because this is still a “rich area to mine.” 

The panelists spoke about their world building process.  One author first defines her forces of conflict, i.e., good versus evil.  Then she goes from the macro level down to the micro level starting with government and ending with daily life.  What is unique about your world must be essential to your story.  What does the culture value the most and what will they do to protect it? 

Our last workshop on Thursday finished at 5:30.  We headed off for drinks at the bar with our FRW pals: President KRISTIN WALLACE, KATHLEEN PICKERING, ONA BUSTOS, MICHAEL MEESKE, MONA RISK, CAROL STEPHENSON, DEBBIE ANDREWS, and more. Publicist JOAN SCHULHAFER stopped by to say hello. So did CFRW members DARA EDMONSON aka WYNTER DANIELS and CFRW prez LORENA STREETER.  Then we all split to find dinner.

More workshop writeups coming over the weekend.  Hit the Subscribe button if you want to stay informed about new posts.

Disclaimer: These workshop reports are based on my notes and are subject to my interpretation. 

****

Prize drawing from August commenters at all my blogging sites for a free signed book from my personal backlist collection, your choice of paranormal/futuristic romance or Bad Hair Day mystery.

Friday, August 6: I’ll be blogging on Secrets and Suspense at http://coffeetimeromance.com/CoffeeThoughts/

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RWA CONFERENCE REPORT: Day 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 3, 2010

Wednesday, July 28 

I arrived at the Dolphin Resort with my roomies for the weekend, authors ALLISON CHASE and SHARON HARTLEY.  We went early in the morning to register at the RWA Annual Conference and to drop off our promo items in the goody room. Not too many people were around but we figured it would get crowded later. We said hello to JOYCE HENDERSON and LYNETTE HALLBERG from SWFRW and to DARA EDMONSON and MICHELLE YOUNG from CFRW.  MONA RISK was there from FRW looking for the booksigning room to drop off her stuff for later.

Allison,Nancy,Sharon

Allison Chase, Nancy Cohen, Sharon Hartley

 At 2:30, we attended the Librarian Networking Event where we met librarians from Florida and around the country. Many authors were there too and offered book giveaways and other promo items for the librarians. The mass Literacy Booksigning followed with over 500 authors in alphabetical rows sitting with their books in front of them and cashiers at the far end. NY Times Bestselling authors like HEATHER GRAHAM and SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS had their own spots. I roamed the aisles greeting fellow authors and introducing myself to people I hadn’t met.  I greeted JUDI MCCOY who writes the dog walker mystery series, and other authors whose names were familiar from the various listserves where I hang out online. A bevy of our own FRW authors were present: KATHY PICKERING, BONNIE VANAK, DEBBIE ANDREWS, MICHAEL MEESKE, ONA BUSTOS, and many more. The two hours went fast, and over $55,000 was raised for adult literacy.

Allison Chase at Booksigning

Allison Chase at Booksigning

Joan and gang

Joan Schulhafer, Kristen Wallace, Kathleen Pickering, Ona Bustos

Nancy and gang

Kathleen Pickering, Nancy Cohen, Sharon Hartley

Sharon and Traci

Sharon Hartley and Traci Hall

Sharon and Nancy

Sharon Hartley and Nancy Cohen

 Coming Next: Day 2 with keynote luncheon and workshops.

Prize Drawing from all my blog commenters in August for signed book from my personal backlist collection.

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