The Romance Writers of America Conference on my second day opened with Dr. Valerie Young speaking at breakfast. During classes writers take notes. When the Keynote Speaker speaks we listen. Then there is always one non-writer who speaks during one of the meals. And, as usual we get out our pen and paper.
Dr. Young talked about the Imposter Syndrome. The Imposter is someone who feels like a fraud and doesn’t deserve praise for their accomplishments and even believes they have duped the people around them. She said what you can do is normalize your accomplishments by talking about them in a matter-of-fact way. Second, reframe your thinking by telling yourself you have the right to make a mistake. She said feelings are the last thing to change. Third, keep going regardless of how you feel. Win or lose you gave it your best shot.
In a nutshell, think like a man!
For my first class, I went to Focus on KDP, Createspace and ACX. (ACX is part of Audible.) There was a representative for each department. Amazon reps are always helpful and every time an author or two lay into them. Many of us had questions about how to deal with aspects of using KDP and one librarian had a complaint about distribution. So if you have issues, it’s not just you and Amazon is happy to help.
Daniel Slater for Kindle reminded us we can put our book up for Pre-Order, 90 days before sale to drive publicity. There are also KDP ads that cost per click, but you can put a cap on the click.
One thing I will consider about Audible that Coleen Barr mentioned, you may want the same narrator in your series. I think it may be best to wait until a series is finished to go to Audible. You can get the narrator in a contract, but she suggested you give them a flat fee and not a percentage. Because what if your book does fabulously?
At lunch I met a friend and made a bunch of new friends which is a big part of these conferences. As writers we need fellow writing buddies. And then I heard this sexy voice and I realized I was eating lunch with the 2016 RWA Steffie Walker Bookseller of the year, Anna Brown!
(I missed one craft class on the second day since the service at Roy’s for lunch was slow. And another craft class I went to I won’t mention because most of us walked out. I think the presenter was having an off-day because I was told she’s normally a great teacher.)
Lori Freeland, a sweetheart who writes Young Adult romance, presented Frame Your Scene, Build Your Story: The Art of Layering. She kept the information basic because she has had people ask, “What is a scene?”
Lori says to set the stage by letting readers know what to expect. In the opening scene the first line is a promise to your reader. She suggested to read the first line in every chapter of our own manuscript. The opening needs to answer who we are, where we are, when we are and who’s with us.
A couple of things that stood out—hooks and layering. The conclusion of the scene hooks the reader to turn the page. Your last line is as important as your first line. “Don’t fortune tell,” Lori says. Keep readers unsatisfied so they’ll move onto the next page.
The layers in a scene are dialogue, internal thought, action, emotion, setting, voice cues and body language. She suggests to write a brief summary of what you want to accomplish in a scene. Get the structure down before writing beautiful prose. She believes the prose will end up on the cutting floor if you put it in too soon.
Lori Freeland also mentioned she pays her children to read her drafts. Sounds like a good way to get the kids involved in a family business.
My favorite moment was the Paranormal Chat with Rebecca Zanetti, Heather Graham and Nalini Singh. These ladies really liked each other. Rebecca was the youngest who kept passing the mic, Heather comes off as an approachable bad-ass with blond hair dressed in black and Nalini is bubbly. (Lucky Nalini went to Antarctica in 2015.)
The conversation was all over the place and lots of ideas too. Nalini said she takes three weeks to fact check for her series. Heather said to create a bible for your series. She reads Poe. I can totally see that.
“I know people who love sweet paranormal romance,” Heather Graham said.
Someone asked about creating romance with a married couple. Heather suggested, “Think about real people—use humor. You can have a sexy scene with no sex.” She pointed to TV shows like Remington Steel, Bones and Castle and then boo-hooed over the loss of Castle.
Rebecca does a daily word count. Heather word counts by week. Nalini builds time for the unexpected. They suggested books by Anne Rice, Ann McCaffrey and Dorothy Eden’s Sleeping in the Woods. I definitely will be reading books by the ladies on the panel!