With Dannye Romine Powell, Book Editor at the Charlotte Observer
Last week I was honored to be invited to rub elbows with four NY Times bestseller authors at the Charlotte Observer Holiday Author Event (http://tinyurl.com/me2n7ke) held at the Mint Museum. The bad news is that I only sold one book (hey, cut me some slack, I’m still a beginner). The good news is I got to breathe the same air as Kathy Reichs of the Bone Series; Lisa Leake, (100 Days of Real Food); Jason Mott (The Wonder of All Things), and Charla Muller (Pretty Takes Practice), all “local luminaries” who shared their collective wisdom at a noontime panel moderated by Dannye Romine Powell, the book editor of the Observer.
In no particular order, here are some nuggets I picked up while trying to snarf down a box lunch so securely fastened and wrapped that the lady in front of me surely thought I was hooked up to the mic and was there to secretly sabotage the program.
Kathy Reichs: (18 years on the bestseller list)
- writing is hard
- if you write one page a day, by the end of the year, you’ll have a book
- polish, polish, polish
- get an agent; they take care of you and are your best friend; use Agent’s Market (used to be included in Writer’s Market, but now is separate book)
- it took roughly two weeks to work through her first editorial letter and she rarely gets them these days
- “I don’t deal with writer’s block. Anytime I have a free day, I write all day.”
- making up names is fun; use the obituaries and mix and match first and last names
Jason Mott: (TV series, “Resurrection” is an adaptation of Mott’s debut novel, The Returned)
- his agent shopped The Returned to TV during final editing of the book
- the hype and buzz around the TV project helped in promoting the book
- being on the bestseller list doesn’t guarantee becoming a millionaire (you shouldn’t be writing just to become a millionaire anyway, because writing is an art)
- writing is “hell, miserable, terrifying everyday, and also the most fulfilling thing I do”
- easy never happens (with writing)
- her blog helped build an audience
- her publisher wanted her book to include 50% new material that was not from her blog
- she finds it easy to write “because I have a message to get out”
- first stop, build a good proposal (she writes nonfiction memoirs)
- in your proposal, focus on the marketing (who is going to read this book?)
As a newbie, I’ve already moved beyond the disheartening reality of low sales, and I’m trying to focus on taking something beneficial from each event in which I participate. Along with the rarified air of best sellers, this one put me in touch with fellow children’s authors, and a mix of both self-published and traditionally published. I’ll be sharing more of that in future blogs, but suffice it to say, it was all part of my continuing education in the book business, and while my coffers didn’t bulge, I certainly came home with a bag full of new connections, supportive ideas, and collective wisdom.