August 2017

Planning a series?

I recently attended a session  at a conference run by best-selling Australian romantic suspense author Chris Taylor, whose website can be found here. Chris is the author of 24 books which span three series. She spoke about discipline: She writes 5000 words a day!!! This translates to 75-80000 words every two months, which is a book Why a series? Series sell (she mentioned the binge-watching habits of Netflix viewers, which I can personally attest to. The Expanse, anyone? Blacklist? Outlander? So many happy hours …) What makes a successful series? She says each book must have its own problem and resolution She likes her readers to be able to read her books out of order and still “get” the story Her series are connected by something, and that something can be quite loose, eg a family group, a location such as a hospital She recommends not worrying about pleasing all readers – just write for the ones in your target audience; she uses Facebook to find her target audience Characters in a series must be rounded, decent, with enough issues going on so you still have things to write about them several novels later Chris says boxed sets of three work really well on Amazon etc as a marketing plan, so an ideal series to her is 9 books, which can then be sold in 3 blocks of 3 come sale time Planning a series PLOT: Chris recommends including small complications in a current novel that can be resolved in a later novel, in addition to the major complication which is to occur in the current novel PROTAGONIST / ANTAGONIST: Chris referred to Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino – from the Patricia Cornwall novels – there is enough ‘meat’ to their relationship to sustain narrative interest over many novels. The…

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Five-minute pitch – the panic before the first pitch ever

So I attended the annual conference of the Romance Writers of Australia this weekend in Brisbane (RWA2017) and all the attendees were eligible to make a five minute pitch to a selection of the editors in attendance. The editors came from Australia and the US, and represented both traditional and digital publishing houses. The online RWA forum gave some tips and tricks, but in my case this is how my first pitch went:   Preparation  I researched what each editor was looking for: category romance (and which ‘ïmprint’) and chose editors who matched my current work-in-progress. I wrote a one-line pitch and memorised it I wrote a two-minute-to-say-out-loud short synopsis (and tried to memorise it!) which started with a sentence about the heroine and a sentence about the hero I wrote a bio about myself which listed recent feedback I have received, competitions I have done well in etc     The waiting room I no longer need to imagine what it feels like when I write that a heroine has ‘a racing heart’. My blood was pounding around my torso with such vehemence it hurt. My hands were sweaty. I cracked brainless jokes to other pitchees in the waiting room. I was a mess. The bell rang and a sweet-as-pie husband of one of the conference committee called my name. I was up! The pitch Like getting a vaccination, the waiting was worse than the procedure. We shook hands. We swapped name. I said my title, my category, my word count. She said, ‘tell me about it.’ I launched into my short synopsis. The editor then asked me a couple of questions: how did it end, and why did I choose her to pitch to (luckily I had my notes about what she had been looking for from my…

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