Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.
One of my writing goals for this Round of Words in 80 Days is to attend at least one Romance Writers of America (RWA) meeting. I have been repeatedly urged by fellow writers to check out this organization. In fact, this round I have sampled three RWAs. I want to share what each offered at the meeting I attended.
Northwest Houston RWA. I had the August 3 meeting on my calendar long before I discovered who was coming: Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. In case you don’t know, Smashwords is “the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks” and has partnerships with Apple, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, Sony, and others.
Mr. Coker presented 15 Secrets of Ebooks. The information was fabulous and not based on conjecture, but rather his experience and careful observation of statistics and trends. This Northwest Houston RWA information program made me feel like I’d hit the jackpot on my first time to a meeting.
If you want the gist of what Mr. Coker said, you can simply download his Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. Also, if you plan to self-publish with Smashwords, be sure to download their Smashwords Style Guide. Both of these ebooks are FREE.
West Houston RWA. The August 10 meeting featured a panel of three local booksellers. Owners/representatives from Katy Budget Books, Blue Willow Bookshop, and Murder by the Book answered questions from RWA members. The topics ranged from their efforts to include local authors in their bookstores to the effects of ebook publishing on their businesses to how independent brick-and-mortar stores are faring.
The most important takeaway for me was to establish relationships with your local bookstores. Shop at the indie gems. Converse with the staff. Attend author events. Be supportive and friendly. If you’re invited to sign at the store, advertise like crazy and doing everything you can to fill the place.
In the changing atmosphere, when many booksellers have gone out of business, the independent bookstores that weathered the storm are now doing well overall. Print sales remain strong, and ebooks can be purchased through local bookstore websites. Local booksellers offer personalized service, both for the reader and for the author. Maintaining a good relationship with them could be key to getting the spark started for a word-of-mouth wildfire about your next book.
Bay Area RWA. Author Donna Grant spoke to the Bay Area RWA on August 20. Donna is the author of more than forty romance novels and novellas. She discussed her writing process, her hybrid publishing model, working with her editor, and marketing tactics. One interesting marketing approach is Donna’s Dolls, her “street team” who help promote her books in exchange for first looks and other goodies.
It’s always interesting for a prepublished author to get a glimpse into the working life of an multi-published author. Her output sounded amazing (about 20 pages a day, 5 days a week), but the key seems to be her laser-like concentration. Her routine is organized, straightforward, and focused. It was a good reminder to me to push aside distractions when writing or editing a book and prioritize tasks so that I can see the progress I desire.
Will I return to RWA? Yes. At this point, I plan to return to the Bay Area RWA. It’s geographically closest, the group is a little smaller, and I ended up chatting with several people. Really, any of the groups would be helpful to a writer.
I have also looked into SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). However, their Houston chapter is about an hour-and-a-half drive from me and meets on Tuesday evenings. I’m just not motivated enough to battle Houston rush-hour traffic for a weeknight meeting that will last less time than it took me to get there. But I may join the national organization, the chapter, and watch for weekend workshops and conferences.
1. Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel. I’ll be tackling this one soon, since the kids return to school this week.
Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit. Already done, plus I edited a third short story that I wrote last week.
Read 10 fiction books. Finished. Anything else I read is icing on the cake!
White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart by Holly Black
Firelands by Piper Bayard
Almost a Scandal and A Breath of Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. Done. Still typing up notes from the book, but I’ve finished reading.
5. Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week. Done.
Attend at least one RWA meeting. Done in spades: As discussed above, I attended the Northwest Houston, West Houston, and Bay Area RWA meetings.
Are you in a writers’ group? What have you gained from that experience? And how was your week?