What I'm reading: Promises in Death, by JD Robb
Back from another wonderful SleuthFest. The organizers go all out to make everyone welcome. I remember being in awe of authors who would actually talk to me, answer my questions, and not frantically search for a way to escape. This year, I realized that I'm now one of the "authors", and people ask me questions. I still have a tendency to turn around to see who they're really talking to.
I found something interesting at every session. Often, I wished for a clone so I could attend two at the same time.
Starting at the end, our closing breakfast speakers addressed the world of publishing. Throughout the conference, as in any writer's conference I've attended, the mantra is "Don't give up. Persistence separates the authors with books on the shelves from those with books under their beds (or, more likely now, on their hard drives).
Neil Nyren of Putnam pointed out that over his career in publishing, there have always been down times, yet they've always recovered. Both keynote speakers, Brad Meltzer and John Hart, spoke of their rejections. I sat with the agent who had been on the YA panel I moderated, and we talked about rejection letters, and how they often are total opposites – for example, here are bits from two of mine:
The ms. opens with a bang and the pacing never lets up—I’m afraid I wasn’t quite as taken with the depictions of the romance between Dalton and Miri, which felt, to my mind, a tad forced.
There is some nice sexual tension here, but ultimately the pace of the novel feels too slow for romantic suspense.
He told me that he tells his authors to focus on the fact that there is something positive in each rejection, and that it's a matter of finding that ONE person who likes all of the pieces.
But why am I starting with the closing event? Because one of the topics brought up was the concept of branding. Neil Nyren pointed out that authors shouldn't try to brand themselves too early, because it takes four or five books before they've settled into their niche. He spoke of the evolution of covers for authors, how they might begin as illustrations depicting the content of the book. Eventually, there is some underlying similarity in the covers so readers know who wrote it. Lee Child's covers look very much alike. I got home and looked at the next book in my TBR pile. If ever there was an illustration of 'branding', it would be this book. We can all dream of the day!
Tomorrow, my guest is Judy Nickles, who is eagerly awaiting the release date for her first novel. She's going to share some of the ways she goes from blank page to one filled with stories. Please come by. I'll continue with SleuthFest postings on Wednesday.