Saturday, July 28, 2012

SLAYING YOUR INNER SLACKER - RWA 2012 workshop with Sophie Littlefield & Juliet Blackwell

Passion & Productivity for Writers

No matter what you do, you could be doing more.

  What am I willing to give up? TV, internet, hobbies, volunteering, entertainment, household tasks, sleep, exercise, social life, reading How can I optimize my work environment? What practices will help me stay focused? What place can I call my own? Is the phone too distracting? Email? Internet?  Do I work better at home or away? Does my family respect my working time? Cluttered or orderly? Music or quiet?  Does tracking help? Goal setting? NaNo?

Writing is a little bit of inspiration, some luck, and a whole lot of hard work.

Sometimes friends thoughts on your writing interferes with your relationships. It may be because they are not pursuing their dreams, and they reflect that on you.


Being taken seriously as a writer starts with you. Brain surgeons don't text in the middle of a procedure. 

Stop sabotaging yourself. If you tell yourself it's too hard, you're saying it is harder than you want to work.  Write faster - you don't have time to be self-indulgent, just get the job done. Try the 45/15 rule. Promise yourself to BITCHOK 45 minutes and then 15 minutes to do whatever writing sprints - like 1k1hr

Bette Davis said - If you stop being sacred, pack it up and go hime because you have lost it.


Samhain publishes romance of all genres and lengths. Recently opened up a horror line. Retro romance is a reprint line for romances published from  the 70s, 80s and 90s.  for authors who want to  have their books reach a digital market.  If you don't have a digital copy, it will be scanned and copy edited. Copy editing is very important. Once, scanning  changed the word arms to anus. So, the heroine opened up the door and fell into the hero's anus. Oops!
Q - What are the heat levels of the books at Samhain? Genuinely open to all heat levels - from swinging from the chandeliers to a sweet kiss. 
Q - Is there a specific sub-genre you are looking for? We like to maintain diversity on our list. As far as sales go, contemporary does well, but we do have a lot of it, so it can take longer to get released. We don't like to compete our authors against each other. Western contemporary is doing quite well. We have a lot of editors who love sci-fi romance. You don't know what the next big trend is.
Q - What is the submission process? We ask for a query and a full synopsis, attached as a rtf or word doc. We prefer a full mss, but if you'd rather do just a few chapters, that is okay too. We try to respond within 12-16 weeks. After 12 weeks you can ask for a status update if you're concerned. You get an auto response that your email was received. 
Q - Last year you were very transparent about sales and how well erotic romance was doing well. Has that balanced back out with non-erotic novels? The answer is crazy complicated. Some books come out and do very well, others struggle. Author name recognition, cover art, cover copy, advance buzz - there are a lot of variables. How much and someone who submits potentially earn? It varies. For writers who have a regular schedule of releases with Samhain, but are not NYT bestsellers. Low selling is under 1000 copies, and tends to be authors with only a book or two with us. Midlist is anything from 1000-10000 copies. High selling range is everything above that. Erotic has the highest possible range because in some ways, that is where digital started and authors have built a career.  In 2011, 20% earned 10K or more. 3% earned over 100K. 
Q - Should the writer know which editor to target, or should they send to the submissions address and hope for the best. Put that in the query letter, but use the submission address. You never know when editors are closed to submissions.
Q - How do you determine what goes to print? Anything over 50K will go to print
Q - What is the sweet spot with number of releases per year? 2-4 per year. Doesn't have to all be novels. Readers like variety. One of our highest selling authors only has one release a year.  There is not a lot a publisher can do to build you if you only give them one book. Your front list sells your backlist, and your backlist is what really makes you money. 
Q - Do you do promotional pricing? We do freebies, especially with series. We're always open to trying different things. 
Q - What international markets are you in? We can sell to all markets we can get to through distribution. Working hard on translation rights internationally, and building a presence in foreign markets.
Q - Who writes the warning labels? Some authors love to write them, some editors love to write them. When it comes to warnings, content comes first so if there is anything in the book that might be a trigger, that is the most important thing. Being funny comes second.
Q - What do you see as the future of sci-fi romance at Samhain? Would like to see more of it. Sales are lower than paranormal and urban fantasy right now, but you never know what is going to hit next. No current plans as a separate line, but there is room within Samhain Romance. Sci-fi with romantic elements is great too.
Q - Is there a royalty structure different between digital and print? Most publishers offer a lower royalty percentage on print because it has a higher cost to publisher. Our royalty percentage is off list, not net.
Q - When do rights revert back to authors? Ask for lifetime of copyright, but there is a standard 7 year term. 
Q - How long does it take from submission to release? At least 8 months. Edits are expected to turn in everything 90 days before release In January this becomes 120 days. Contracts can take a while, so can revisions and edits. Right now we're booking into 2013. Preorders are what is getting books on the NYT lists. The longer the book is for pre-order, the higher it seems to land on the list. 
Q - How many writers do you actually have? Around 600 in total 400 US, 150 had a release in 2011
Q - What is the interest in YA? We currently do not publish YA. We want to wait until we can do it right. It is such a popular, competitive market. New adult works for us.
Q - Do you do audio books, how do you decide which to release? Just signed out first audiobook deal - Maya Banks Colters Woman series to Audiogo.   
Q - Do you do anthologies? We tend to release stories digitally by themselves, and then bundle things that go together for print. Tend to be a collection by one author. Takes about 12 months after the last release. Occasionally our editors will put out a call for things they are interested in putting together. 
Q - What types of romantic suspense are you looking for? The traditional market seems to have tightened for it, so we're getting lots of great submissions. The market is strong for action/adventure. There is strill room for mystery lit. 
Q - For a new author, what is the marketing expectation? We don't require anything, but if an author is interested in marketing they partner with their editor for that. Authors are their own advocate, especially for things that are new and different from what we've already done. The most important thing for an author is an updated, easily navigable website with a complete booklist.  Don't do social media unless you like to. No one is interested if you aren't. No one follows you for review or Amazon links. 
Advertise in RT every month, they go to PW, Library Journal, RT for review every month. Sponsoring events. Jumbotron ad was the big splash this year. 
We work hard to bring the Samhain brand because that brings readers to new authors. The highest visited page on our site is our new releases page.  By being part of the Samhain brand, you're taking advantage of the recognition of bestsellers like Lorelei James, Vivian Arend...
Q - Overall estimate of the acceptance rate 8%, but that includes authors already within Samhain. Probably 3-5%.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Malle Vallik's (Harlequin Digital guru) Top Tips *Have a creative plan with a measurable goal  *Have an author website - booklist, behind the scene fun facts so readers can get to know you *Do social media that feels good to you *Measure, revise, stop - if something is attracting people, domore of that. don't waste your time *Find 3 authors that are doing it right, and copy them *Online reviews are important, and opportunity to get attention. cultivate relationships with bloggers *Build excitement towards your launch date - cover reveals, extended samples *Keep it ongoing, a regular part of your marketing.  Sarah Burningham, Little Bird Publicity *website is the most important *find a few things you can do well and enjoy, and do that. if you try to do everything, you'll do nothing well.  *find your backstory, and extend your network that way to give readers a sense of who you are behind your books *You don't sell books by saying buy my book Robyn Carr - Hold Our For A Hero site. military family support is important to her Allison Underwood, Open Road Integrated Media *Recognize the support you have online and give them recognition and affirmation. See who is talking about you when, reply to them and they'll go out and talk up your book.  *The author is closer to the reader than ever before. Nurture that relationship. *Reader reviews influence purchase behavior than critical reviews *Facebook - have an official page, not a personal profile. You can promote it and track how it is being interacted with. The fanning process is less intrusive than the friend process. Shawn Nicholls, HarperCollins *Be authentic. You are the content creators. give people original content.  *Post the first line of your next book and ask what people think, how they think it will end, what a character's name should be.  *Post Goodreads reviews on your Facebook page


Bowker Market Research tracks 6000 unique book buyers every month. Track what they buy, what formats, where and why they buy books, who they buy them for. In what formats is romance bought? 44% ebook, 29% mass market, 17% trade paperback Publisher share - concentrated among key publisaers Macmillan 32%, 23% harlequin, 17% penguin
Avid readers read 15 print 8 ebooks every 6 months. they buy 12 print anf 7 ebooks. Frequent readers read 7 print, 2 ebook and buy 5 print and 2 ebook in the same period Romance readers are buying less frequently: in early 2011 30% were buying every 2-3 weeks, now it is 23%
Romance readers are more price sensitive than other readers Romance readers are more impulsive in their buying practices than readers of other genres What do romance buyers most enjoy about reading romance *relaxation *escapism *happy endings *hope *light/easy reads *character association *uplifting *feel-good
What influences readers - enjoying previous books(71%), part of a series(65%), blurb (57%), title (51%) What is on the seller website has the most impact. Facebook, Twitter, blogs are less influential.
40% of readers WILL visit your author website, 15% read your blog This holiday season (2011) was a game changer in terms of how people buy books.  Device - 41% kindle, 13% kindle fire, 16% Nook, 10% iPad, 4% iPhone
The impact of free books - 30% bought another book by that author. 14% say they only read free ebooks

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carina Press Spotlight :: RWA 2012

Carina Press did an informative session about the history of the brand, and then had some fun -- letting attendees decide the covers of a couple of books. It was great to see how people reacted to the different options, and why. I'm so excited to see how readers react to the BDSM trilogy from Linda Aicher coming out in November. It's scalding hot. Now for the Carina basics ::
HARLEQUIN'S DIGITAL FIRST IMPRINT first books published in 2010 2-4 digital releases a week special projects like editors choice & special calls publication in digital, audio and print potential 5-8% acceptance rate BUSINESS MODEL digital royalty rate 40% of net 3rd party sales, 50% of net direct sales no DRM, which is why they are sold on a separate site than the other HQ books worldwide rights/all rights quick speed to market  7-9 months contract term is shorter - 7 years no advance because of higher royalty rate TOP GENRES IN E-BOOK :: contemporary romance, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotic romance TOP GENRES IN PRINT :: contemporary romance, romantic suspense & mystery

Drive Me Crazy RT Review

Managed to scavenge a copy of Romantic Times for the review of Drive Me Crazy -- 4 stars and a HOT! They are so good to me.
Bayley-Burke's newest is a crazy and sexy ride from Washington DC to Oregon. Readers will eagerly turn the pages as they wait to see what happens next. From haunted B&Bs and whore-houses to a petting zoo, her main characters are on the road - and the romance - of a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome To The Goodie Room :: RWA 2012 Anaheim

After the conference goodie bag attendiess get at registration (which included a dozen shoulder slumping books), many conference peeps head straight to the goodie room. This year, the room doubles as a connection lounge, so those of us who work in isolated corners of our houses and libraries can connect the way we're most comfortable -- online! Really, it is so much easier to be clever when you have a backspace key.

I like to scan the promotional offerings to see who took the time to come up with something fresh. I'm a boring bookmark girl, so these events help inspire me to come up with something better.

Some of my favorites this year were the back massagers from Writerspace & the pack of lies (Big Red gum). Goodie room offerings ebb and flow as the conference goes on. I'll post back if I find something blogworthy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Comedy Club Confessions

It's that time of the month again...

The Pink Heart Society: Fill The Well Friday : Laugh It Out: Jenna Bayley-Burke giggles on over to The Pink Heart Society to warn you about comedy shows. Yes, laughing is a perfect way to Fill The Wel...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fun Facts About Jenna

Jenna is a Zumbatastic dancer. In her head. The questionably clad girl in the mirror is a hot mess.

Jenna graduated from the University of Oregon with majors in Religious Studies, Psychology & English. Who says ADD is a learning disability?

Jenna is a strong beleiver in toe color. Leave the French tips for your fingers. It's Wine O'Clock & Teal You Later are truly toe-worthy.