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 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario

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Brenda Hill, Admin
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PostSubject: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:29 am

I've been hired to give two new presentations at the Ovitt Library in Ontario, CA in April 2015. Since I just gave Scene & Sequel, I'm not sure yet what I'll talk about. I'm thinking 'Your Critical Opening Page,' and perhaps 'The 5 Tiers of Publishing.'

Would either or both tempt a writer to attend?

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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:54 am

There are so many topics to choose - dialogue, setting, characterisation or those age old bug bear of most writers, plotting and writing the dreaded synopsis. I think either of your titles will attract attendees.

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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:11 am

Brenda, how about: "If you consider writing as a career, you're nuts!"  
Seriously:  "What is required to get your work noticed by an agent or publisher."
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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Thu Nov 20, 2014 1:23 pm

Since I only have an hour for each, I have to consider what would make the most impact in the least amount of time. Love your suggestions!

Abe, I'm not sure I can talk about that in an hour. I've had two agents in my career, but it took nearly five years of classes, a ton of rejections, constant revisions, and trying again and again.

At one conference, Betina Krahn - a RITA Award winning and New York Times best-selling author of historical romance novels - was the keynote speaker. She said it took her eight years of classes and rejections before she got that first contract, said it was the same for many best-selling authors in attendance. In today's word of instant publishing, I wonder if many of today's writers have the hunger and patience to go through that.

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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Fri Nov 21, 2014 3:04 am

Katie Fforde, a multi-published British author of romance novels, tried for 11 years to write for Harlequin Mills and Boon before finally securing a publishing deal. So I agree, Brenda, covering 'how to secure an agent/publishing deal' would take more than an hour to cover!

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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:33 am

I mentioned it only since so many authors are interested in the subject and there are no clear answers. If persistence is the key and the only answer, then the presentation would be rather short, eh?
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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:49 pm

Betina said the time it took to learn the craft was the equivalent of a master's degree. So many things to learn, such as the techniques you mentioned, Victoria.

For me, it was five years of classes, writing, sending out, rejections, then starting the process all over again. The worse thing was no one would tell me what was wrong, so I was blindly taking more classes, hoping I'd learn just one more thing that would help me.

At around the five-year mark, agents started personalizing the rejections, telling me what I was doing wrong. More classes. It wasn't until the eight-year mark that I was finally offered a contract. Holding that contract, I broke into tears. It had been a long, difficult journey.

But because of a family trauma, I had to break that contract and it was nearly two years before I could write again, and I had to start the process of finding an agent all over again. One agent recommended three others, the first one declined, never heard from the second, but the third, after waiting three months to hear, said she was so busy she hadn't even read the submitted chapters. That's when I gave up in disgust and signed with you-know-who. By then I'd been certified and opened my editing business. One of my clients had signed with them and his writing was very good, so I thought that publisher was legitimate. Was I ever mistaken. That was in 2004 before all the publicity.

Today, with nearly everything on the web, it shouldn't take writers nearly that long to learn the skills needed. 'In my day,' the web was too new to have much info about writing techniques, but with the web, it's become much easier to learn. But they still have to learn unless they want to be considered amateurs.

Here's how one agent evaluated manuscripts:

Submissions:

[url= How I Evaluate Fiction Submissions]Submissions[/url]

I know when I attended conferences, I wanted to hear how published writers got their agents, but I wonder if my story would interest anyone today. Wouldn't it be much like someone from the previous century telling today's housewives how they washed clothes on a scrub board, or how they had to learn to work that coal or wood stove? Some might be interested, but others? I'm not sure.

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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:24 pm

I'm never been a quitter and have utilized persistence in my career. Having said that, I have given up on trying to find an Agent. When they don't acknowledge receipt of your inquiry it is enough to drive one mad. I think business has been too good for them. I think they have become too "self-important" to acknowledge a yet unknown author even if that author could become a best-seller. Perhaps it is a numbers game to them having so much input.

Playing the lottery may have better odds.
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PostSubject: Re: 2 New Presentations at Ovitt Library, Ontario   Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:37 pm

Abe, in some ways I agree; however, an agent at one of the conferences I attended said he could tell if the submission was worth reading by the query, then the opening page of the manuscript. Another said she could tell in the first three paragraphs if the writing had the necessary skills.

I was stunned. Three paragraphs?

However, after editing for years and coaching other writers, I can also tell very quickly if a writer has learned the techniques. Many writers think if they can write a paragraph, they can write a novel. But it takes skill to turn the story the writer sees in his/her head into a story on paper that readers will want to read - and buy.

So while I didn't understand what the agent was saying at the time, now I do, especially when I understood how many submissions they were receiving each day - hard-copy as well as email.

When prospective clients contact me about editing, I can quickly determine whether or not that client has enough skill to edit. Many times I've recommend they invest their money into classes instead of editing. They simply were not ready.

All those years of trying to get an agent were not wasted. I didn't have the necessary skills to be published by a major house. Of course I didn't realize that at the time. So years later, when I signed with true commercial publisher, and currently two, I was ready. And now I teach what I've learned through a local workshop.

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