Saturday, July 31, 2010

RWA 2010 - Day 4 (last day)

Even my fingers are tired as I type this last blog post from RWA. Today was day 4, the last day of the conference. By this point you begin to see how the late nights and fun events, not to mention the info-packed seminars, are affecting people's brain cells. Everyone is still having a blast, including all those dressed up folks for tonight's RITA gala. It's just that we're all a bit more tired than we were on Wed or Thurs.

Today was good, though. Began the day by stopping in to check out QueryFest, which was an agent panel of Miriam Kriss, Jessica Faust, Scott Eagan, Christine Witthohn, and Paige Wheeler. Basically it was a panel on the do's and don'ts of querying lit agents, along with doing some cold reads/feedback. I stayed for a bit before going into a great panel led by 2 authors (Mindy Klasky and Maria V. Snyder) who spoke about the mistakes they'd made over their career, and they basically offered the "do as I say, not as I did" advice to eager writers willing to listen. I found their information to be informative and timely.

There were 1 or 2 timeslots where I tried visiting several seminars and just couldn't connect with the information or the speaker. My critique partner, who I rode down here with, did the same thing. We tried to connect to the information and the speakers, but somehow the info didn't connect with us. So we went to lunch instead and made use of the time.

This afternoon, I attended an amazing panel with lit agents Barbara Poelle and Holly Root, along with Abby Zidle from Pocket Books and women's fiction writer Jenny Gardiner. They did a "mock editorial meeting" which is basically when the publishing editor of your book, the cheerleader in your corner, goes to the other people in the publishing office and hopes to convince them to buy your book. It was an absolute revelation to see how these individuals (publicity person, foreign rights person, media/TV person, head of publishing, etc.) instantly treated the manuscript as a product. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The manuscript was no longer the writer's "baby" or precious thing that the writer has put into the world. In that editorial meeting, it's all about dollars and cents, and can the book sell and make the publisher the return they want, or do they have a platform to launch a great book with an event or other promotion. There was no talk about the writing. There was no talk about the author or the author's talent or lack thereof. It was as if the manuscript, birthed from a writer's heart and soul, suddenly became an independent entity, and this is what everyone passed around, chopped up, and wanted to make dollars and cents on.

While startling to see, this was actually a very helpful workshop because even a great book, with a great hook and story, can be rejected because it won't fit into the market in a way the publisher or someone with clout in that ed meeting things it should. And it's not personal to the writer. It's all about that separate entity, the manuscript.

Later this afternoon I attended Deb Dixon's Point of View workshop, which was wonderful and filled with in-depth information as all of hers are. By 5pm I was completely brain fried, but I met up with my critique partner for drinks at 5:30, then attended the gala RITA dinner at 6:30. Met some incredible writers from Virginia, DC, Illinois, and more. That's the great thing with these events - the people you meet and connect with are amazing.

One of my friends in the Charlotte chapter was up for an award. She didn't win, but having her manuscript final was a big thrill, and my throat got sore cheering for her when they announced her name in the list of finalists.

And now, am crashing fast. Things are packed. Home tomorrow. Then to begin submitting to people who want to see material. And as always, keep in mind that eventually, that book will be in someone's hands where it is a separate entity, and we as writers can't control the outcomes. We can only write the best stories we can, staying true to what we write.

Until next blog, this is Elaine, signing off. Good night, and good luck.



Anonymous said...

Janet W: Your comments about "book as product" reminded me of what I have gleaned about the college admissions process. Scary but true!

Jenny Gardiner said...

SO glad our panel was enlightening. I know, it's sad but true that our babies are not their babies, eh? But good to understand that too!

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