Why The Wordsmiths Project Journal Is Not A Blog

Posted on April 20th, 2008 in Wordsmiths Project, Blogging, Writing, Ernest Lilley by Sally

The renown litblogger Michael Allen (aka “The Grumpy Old Bookman”) announced last year that he would be retiring from frequent 5-day-a-week blogging. He had calculated that since he had started the site back in March, 2004, he had probably written about 1,000,000 words in his blog. (See “Change of Policy“)

1,000,000 words!

In other words, if The Grumpy Old Bookman hadn’t been blogging every weekday for three years, he could have conceivably spent that time and creative energy writing several books or hundreds of articles – presumably with some financial remuneration associated with the endeavor.

For several months, I haven’t posted anything in The Wordsmiths Project Journal. Instead, I’ve done the following things:

  • Helped care for ill family members.
  • Completed and sent in my first ever grant application.
  • Received my first ever grant – from the Lackawanna County Council of the Arts – for another exhibit of The Wordsmiths Project.
  • Created and exhibited more of my fine art photo images (and made a nice number of sales).
  • Continued work on my fiction.
  • Trained our two year-old Golden Retriever – Watson – to be a therapy dog.
  • Took Watson on our first visit to an assisted living facility and loved the smiles he gave the residents.
  • Given various talks, lectures and seminars on The Wordsmiths Project, the publishing industry, writing as a career, photography, Photoshop, digital imaging and so forth.
  • Launched an Internet radio show – The Photo Gurus – with Daniel.
  • Helped Daniel and his staff at DigitalBenchmarks Lab, with various testing of imaging and photography hardware and software for clients, including my personal specialty of image quality analysis.
  • And, as always, written a number of articles on assignment.

When I started The Wordsmiths Project Journal, I made a conscious choice to call it a journal and not a blog. That’s because my plan was to write in it when I had something to say and when I had time to do it.

My friend Ernest Lilly – the editor of TechRevu and SFRevu – told me that it wouldn’t be my decision what it would be called. That would be up to the blogosphere. But I think that those of you who do read this Journal will agree that it isn’t a blog, for the simple reason that I don’t have the time or temperament to keep up regular entries. Besides, I have more articles and novels to write, and new pictures to create.

However, I do promise that I will continue to write, when I have something to say that I feel would be useful and entertaining for folks interested in the publishing world, writing and writers.

And, yes, I will be getting back to doing more portraits for The Wordsmiths Project, so I continue to welcome nominations.

Literary Ventures Fund: Investing in Literature

Posted on August 5th, 2007 in Literary Ventures Fund, CLMP, Jim Bildner, Marketing & Promotion by Sally

One of the cold hard facts of the publishing world is that, typically, once a book is printed and distributed, it is left out there, on its own, to either sink or swim. For the vast majority of the approximately 300,000 books that come out annually, the PR department of the publishing house may issue a single press release about the book. After that, they will do no followup nor expend any further effort to promote it. Of course, a few lucky books get a big splash of publicity, financed by the publisher – or sometimes, by the author. But most books – many of them fine pieces of literature – are seldom really noticed by the reading public, because no one gets behind them.

If only there were someone whom authors could turn to, somebody who believed in them and their work so much, that he or she would go to bat for them – help get reviews in major publications, encourage bookstores to use nice eye-catching displays, convince publishers to keep the book in print long enough to for it to make an impact.

Now, there is – Literary Ventures Fund (www.literaryventuresfund.org).Jim BIldner, Chairman of Literary Ventures Fund, helps significant books that might have been overlooked stand out from the crowd.

Literary Ventures Fund, a not-for-profit private foundation, is the brainchild of Jim Bildner, an author who was just completing his MA, when he began to fully understand “how difficult it is for writers to get books published and wanted to do something” to help. Since he had a business background in venture capitalism (including being a general partner at the venture capital firm of New Horizons Partners in Boston), Jim started thinking about the publishing business in untraditional ways, trying to figure out how he could help literature be more effectively marketed, while challenging the status quo of the industry.

“Our aim is to do a couple things,” Jim told me. “One, obviously, is to support specific works, but more than that, to try and create new channels for books to get out to reader’s hands. One of the biggest problems in publishing is the inability of publishers to think long term…. as soon as the catalog’s out, that’s the end of the project [from the point of view of the publisher]. So, one of the things we’re doing quite differently is that we’re looking at a book for over a two to three-year window. That means we’re going to keep it in print, and we’re going to try and find ways to induce bookstores to feature it more prominently. We’re going to try to come up with new channels that don’t involve returns…which is a big killer…. You know, it’s the only industry in the world where you can actually take possession, consume it, and return it for full value. It’s insane. ”

Of course, Jim was referring to the universal practice that allows bookstores to return any unsold inventory and receive full refunds, no questions asked. To counter that tradition, LVF has established a program in which they will give independent bookstores discounts for taking 25 nonreturnable copies of a title at once. That can make it less of a gamble for them to buy books by comparatively unknown authors. At the same time, when shoppers see 25 copies of the same book on a shelf, they tend to notice it, pick it up, buy it.

But that’s only a small portion of what LVF is doing.

According to LVF’s Website, “We believe in the importance of the literature we invest in. Our objective is simple: get the work into the hands of readers and keep the work in print for years to come.”

The key word there is “invest.” LVF makes investments in a handful of authors and books annually. “We’re actually trying to do two things at one time, ” Jim explained. “One, support literature, one book at a time, but equally important is sustainable philanthropy, which is why we invest in books; we don’t make grants.” The books they choose to support are expected to give them a return on their investment, so that LVF can continue to support new books and authors, hopefully, as Jim said, “in perpetuity.”

LVF uses a variety of business models, depending on the individual project. “You should definitely go to our Website (www.literaryventuresfund.org) and see the investments we’ve made to date; they’re all similar but different in a way,” Jim explained. “One is called ‘The Writer’s Fund’ which is a direct investment in an author. For Tom O’Malley, it allowed him to actually take off time and finish his second book. In that respect, I may emulate what Perkins did for Hemingway and Fitzgerald. And by doing that, he quickly provided support for the author and, if that book is successful, then he’ll- we’ll have a share of that advance and the future rights to that book.” They connected with Tom O’Malley when his agent told them about him.

However, most of LVF projects center on a specific book, rather than an author. They can be involved in any of aspect of the publishing process. Depending on the status of the book, they might help find a publisher for it, or assist a publisher in being able to acquire and publish it, and/or work on developing (and funding) a good marketing and promotions plan. “[LVF] is the first of its kind,” Jim said. “We’re learning a lot about the dysfunction in publishing and being able to bridge many gaps.”

LVF finds out about books and authors from various sources they trust, including agents, publishers, contacts at MFA programs, their own board and other professional associates. “The beauty with what we’re doing,” Jim said, “is that we are agnostic as to source…. we’re interested in a work. not a press, not an infrastructure.” Nor do they care if it is fiction, non-fiction or poetry, mainstream or genre – as long as it is a worthy, wonderful book.

Okay, that all sounds great, but I’ve been in publishing long enough to know the money for all this good will and support has to come from somewhere. Usually, the writer pays in one way or another. Right?

Wrong, according to Jim. When I asked him where the “return on their investment” comes from, he said it comes from the publisher, not the author. At first, he said it doesn’t affect the author’s royalties at all. Then, he thought a few minutes, and said, “Well, I guess the only way it actually affects royalties is, hopefully, by our investment which is in marketing and promotion, the books sell more than they would normally sell. And therefore, there are more royalties for the author.”

LVF has been around only for a few years, having been founded in May, 2005, with their first portfolio of literary investments announced in February 2006. However, they have already had some nice successes, such as the acclaimed, “Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali” by by Kris Holloway.

What’s more, LVF merged with the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) in 2005. For those of us who tend to be somewhat skeptical about people who seem to be offering a dream-come-true to authors, that connection with the respected and better known CLMP gives LVF almost immediate gravitas. But, according to Jim, it was also a sensible business move. “There are three benefits,” he said. “For CLMP, we were able to give it some stability and also give it some presence. What CLMP gave Literary Ventures is a database and a technical skill set that we didn’t really have and we didn’t have to recreate.” They also share personnel and connections within publishing.

I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impact Literary Ventures Fund will have on publishing. What kinds of books will they bring to the public’s awareness that might have been ignored? And, even more important – given that they can only work with a few books and authors per year – what kind of changes will they affect on the industry by simply trying to develop better, more sensible, more author-supportive business practices? Wouldn’t it be great if lots of copy-cat not-for profit organizations cropped up? Even better, if the industry started adopting more effective marketing and sales practices. Or – okay, call me a dreamer — if publishing houses themselves saw, from LVF’s example, that backing even the unknown author who simply produces really fine reads (versus blockbusters), by providing ongoing marketing and promotions for longer than a single day, can be not only good for literature, but also can be good business.

In the meantime, it’s good to know there’s one small organization out there that is trying and apparently making a difference.

Now that Steve Ross has left Crown Publishing, should I redo his portrait?

The news is plastered everywhere publishing folks read – it even made national headlines: Steve Ross, the publisher and vice president of Crown Publishing will be moving to HarperCollins to become the president and publisher of the Collins division. However, The Wordsmiths Project portrait I did of Steve specifically reflects his work at Crown. So, I’m in a quandary. Do I create a new portrait or let the one that I have of him stand?

The current portrait is definitely related to Steve’s impressive body of work at Crown. Specifically, he made considerable waves in the industry when he created Crown Forum, the first major publishing house’s imprint for politically conservative titles, such as those penned by Ann Coulter, John Podhoretz and others of that right-wing ilk. Steve told us that some of his friends expressed disapproval and even dismay over the idea. However, he said that it was a decision related to his abiding belief in and support of the First Amendment. After all, Crown’s other imprints also publish books by Barak Obama, Jimmy Carter and others of the left. And that’s why my portrait of him has him juggling various books, trying to keep the right, left and center all in the air at the same time.

While I am sure that Steve does firmly feel that every political position has a right to be heard, and that such unimpeded voices are key to our democracy, I also know that he is a highly skilled marketer. One of the stories he likes to tell about himself is that even as a child he watched with fascination as people took books off the shelves in bookstores. Starting at a very young age, he tried to understand and analyze why certain books attracted attention, while others remained untouched. Not that he didn’t also love to pick up the books to read them, voraciously. But he read beyond the covers, striving to figure out what made each volume have the impact it did, what were the turns of phrases or the perspectives that made it work, what kinds of readers would be drawn to it, and how could it have done a better job.

This passion for books and for understanding what sells and why was evident in Steve when Daniel and I first met him. As a young associate editor at John Wiley & Sons, he was our editor on “The Green Travel Sourcebook.” At the lunch where I first came up with the idea and title for the book, and Steve jumped on it, excited by the (then) very new concept, I remember looking across the table at him. That was the moment that I realized that he was destined to go far in publishing. Not just because he was obviously bright and talented, with a passion for books, but that he had a way of encouraging the best from his authors. And, as an author, I knew that if I gave him my all, he would do the same. Besides, he had an instinct for the marketplace, which his writers could depend upon – as long as they listened to him.

Getting back to the current Steve Ross Wordsmiths Project portrait. Not only does it do a good job of telling the story of what Steve has achieved at Crown – juggling the various points of view and political perspectives of both the right and left, while intuitively finding the books that the public will buy – it is also one that I spent a great deal of time and energy creating.

Steve Ross and Sally during the Crown photo shootQuite honestly, when I do a photo shoot for The Wordsmiths Project, I’m never quite sure what I’ll end up creating as the final portrait. Sure, I have a few ideas – more like itches that make me shoot from particular angles or ask a subject to strike a certain pose. Being familiar with Steve’s sense of humor, I knew I wanted something different for his portrait, so I asked him to sit cross-legged on a conference room table, and I climbed up on the table with him. It was silly and fun, requiring that we contort our bodies in ways that they don’t always go anymore. (After all, a few years have passed under the bridge since our Wiley and Green Travel days.) But it produced some great photos. When we were finished, I went out into the hallway and photographed numerous Crown books, because I knew I wanted to use them in the final portrait – whatever it would end up being.

Adobe Photoshop Layers Palette for the Steve Ross portraitThen, when I got back to my studio, I went to work on my favorite photos from the shoot, spending several days, designing, editing and working on the minute details. For those of you who know Adobe Photoshop or similar imaging programs, you may be interested in seeing the Layers palette of the final picture (shown to the right). The image ended up being over 650 megabytes in file size, because of all the layers and adjustment layers that I pasted together to create the portrait. (For those of you who aren’t into the details of computerized art, suffice it to say it was a very precise process of creating and combining various elements into a single picture. Each of the lines in the palette to the right represents a separate piece of image or a particular edit added to or tweaked in the final picture.)

I’m pleased that Steve loves the portrait. So much so, that when he saw it at the Book Expo exhibit, he asked if he could purchase the original signed and framed exhibition print that I had personally printed. (Unsigned, unframed pictures, printed by Smugmug.com’s automated system can be purchased on this site. They are quite good, but not the level of excellence of the exhibition prints.) I told him, no, he couldn’t buy it. But if he gave a substantial donation (and I quoted an appropriate sum) to the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund, that I would give the print to him. He didn’t take me up on that offer for a few days – not until after the news about him leaving Crown was made public. Then, he asked some of his future associates at HarperCollins if they felt it would be appropriate for him to have a piece of art in his new office that depicted him juggling some of the books he published at Crown. The consensus was that it would be a nice addition to his office. So, he called me and arranged to make the donation and asked me ship the portrait to him.

Even though I have that very nice nod of approval from Steve and others at HarperCollins, I can’t help but wonder if having a “dated” portrait of Steve in The Wordsmiths Project might be inappropriate. What do you think? Should I create a new portrait, or do you feel that the current one which reflects his work at Crown should stand?

Please voice your opinion through an email (via the Contact page) or leave your comments here. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wordsmiths Project at Book Expo 2007

Posted on June 11th, 2007 in WEAF, Wordsmiths Project, Mollie Glick, Book Expo, Steve Ross, Lance Fensterman by Sally

Lance Fensterman, Event Director of Book Expo America, with SallyBack in April, I was thrilled and honored when Lance Fensterman of Book Expo America told me that BEA Cares (Book Expo’s charity arm) would be providing The Wordsmiths Project pro bono exhibit space at Book Expo. It was the best news I had heard in a long time; I would be launching The Wordsmiths Project and promoting the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (WEAF) at North America’s premier publishing industry trade show. However, I had no idea all that would be involved in organizing, preparing and mounting the exhibit in New York City’s Javits Center. The past couple of months have been a hectic pressure cooker, which is why I haven’t had the time to journal recently. But the result, at last week’s Book Expo 2007, was wonderful and worth all the sleepless nights.

Steve Ross with Sally, in front of Steve's portraitThe space BEA Cares gave us was right in front of one of the main entrances to the trade show – near the BookTV bus and the Pen American Center table. (And, yes, BookTV did do an interview with me, but I’ve yet to find out when it will air.) So, we had a very nice amount of traffic. Initially, people walking by weren’t quite sure what the exhibit was all about, but they were drawn in by the pictures. Once there, I could tell them about WEAF and hope that those who took the envelopes will send in some donations. In addition, I asked folks for nominations of people I should consider photographing for The Wordsmiths Project. The nominations we received are quite interesting. But, please remember, The Wordsmiths Project will be ongoing for at least another year or so (as long as I’m enjoying myself and it’s doing some good). So, I’ll welcome nominations at any time. (Click here for how to nominate.)

Pat Schroeder visits The Wordsmiths Project exhibit at Book Expo

I had a great time at Book Expo, seeing old friends and photo subjects and meeting all kinds of new interesting people. My only disappointment was that I was so busy at the exhibit, I didn’t have time to check out all the conference discussions and other events.

Mollie Glick with Sally, in front of Mollie's portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Photography Has Taught Me About Writing… and About Life

Posted on April 9th, 2007 in Photography, Writing by Sally

Small details can tell a whole story. I am often asked what I mean when I say that my photography and writing inform each other.  Photography, storytelling, and, yes, life… it’s all about what we see, how we convey it to others and whether we can make it meaningful.

When I look at the world through the lens of my camera, I see so much more. My field of vision might be more limited, but everything becomes more focused, limned with greater clarity of shadows and light. Life resolves into aesthetic patterns and colors, giving definition and meaning, and making the ordinary everyday more noteworthy and memorable. It’s as though my lens has the magic ability to see through to the essentials of a moment or of a personality, to tell me story that I might have missed if it weren’t for my camera’s eye view.

I often think about my photography when I’m writing… visualizing what I want my readers to see, focusing my words as I would my camera lens. To go even further, I believe that being a photographer makes me a better writer, just as being a writer strengthens my photography.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about writing, and about life, by watching the world through my camera lens:

  • Stay focused on the central subject, but don’t lose sight of what surrounds it. The context (the background) of a picture (or a story) often gives it weight and meaning.
  • Don’t stay stubbornly rooted in place. Explore different perspectives, even if it means getting down on the earth or climbing mountains.
  • Crop (edit) until you’ve zeroed in on the essentials and have removed anything that might distract from what you want the viewer (reader) to see.
  • Pay close attention not only to what the light illuminates, but also what lurks in the shadows and how it changes how you feel and think about the picture (or story).
  • Small details, carefully captured, can often tell a whole story.
  • If you’re going to lie, make it a glorious lie.

Because The Wordsmiths Project is a photo project, please feel free to email me (or put in a comment below) your questions about photography, as well as about publishing. 

Book Expo’s BEA Cares Recognizes The Wordsmiths Project

Posted on April 2nd, 2007 in WEAF, Wordsmiths Project, ASJA, Book Expo by Sally

I’m thrilled to report that Book Expo, the publishing industry’s primary trade show in the U.S., has acknowledged The Wordsmiths Project, and the work we are doing to get the word out about the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (WEAF). BEA has put a link to The Wordsmiths Project on the BEA Cares page of their Website. And they are providing us with display space at Book Expo, which is at New York City’s Javits Center this May 31-June 3.

The WEAF provides emergency grants to help professional writers in crisis to continue to be writers. (While the WEAF is run by the American Society of Journalists & Authors, grant recipients don’t have to be members of ASJA.) The whole idea of dedicating The Wordsmiths Project to the WEAF was to raise the publishing industry’s awareness of the important work the WEAF does. I am also donating the proceeds from The Wordsmiths Project receptions, exhibits and sales of pictures to WEAF. If you wish to donate directly to the WEAF, please use the link at the bottom of every page on this Website.

I am very pleased to have The Wordsmiths Project receive the recognition of BEA. I know it will help make the publishing industry more aware of the WEAF — and hopefully will get people in the industry behind WEAF’s work.

Jenny Rappaport: A Young New Age Literary Agent

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Literary Agent, Mollie Glick, Jean V. Naggar, L. Perkins Agency, Jenny Rappaport by Sally

Jenny Rappaport & ZoeI met Jenny Rappaport (of the L. Perkins Agency) last year, when I was on a panel with her at the PhilCon conference. While I was impressed with her enthusiasm, I wasn’t planning on photographing her for The Wordsmiths Project. Then, I wrote up some of her comments in my Wordsmiths Journal entry about that panel (How to Lose Agents & Infuriate Editors). And the hits starting coming in. In fact, in looking over keyword statistics for this site, Jenny’s name is the second most common word that people searching on the Internet used to get to The Wordsmiths Journal.

At first, it didn’t make much sense to me that Jenny is so popular on the Internet. She is a relatively new agent, having been in this business for only a couple of years. While she has some rather interesting and talented clients, I don’t believe she has had a hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark big seller yet. Then, I looked at her Website – LitSoup.

Jenny maintains a very friendly, informative and responsive blog, making her one of the more accessible literary agents. On her submissions guidelines page, she is very clear about what she is interested in seeing and how to get in touch with her. She also tends to answer comments and questions (although not always immediately).

Like all agents, Jenny is swamped with submissions to consider, manuscripts to read and edit, books to send to editors, contracts to negotiate, etc. She told me during our photo shoot, that she finds blogging a nice break in the middle of her stressful day. What’s more, she enjoys the human interaction of blogging.

Jenny is looking to double her client list in the next year, which means she is very open to queries by new authors – as long as they fit into her focus, which tends to be genre books — science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc — and as long as they are very well written and avoid clichés. (Please be sure to read her submission guidelines first, of course.)

However, as accessible as Jenny is on the Internet. I’m not convinced that’s why she is the second most common keyword used to get to The Wordsmiths Journal. After all, the first most common – my agent, Mollie Glick of the Jean V. Naggar Agency – has very little Internet presence.

Do you have any insights as to why these two young agents are so popular on the Internet? If so, please let us hear them.

Are Writers Conferences Worth the Money & Time?

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails. I enjoy hearing from readers and fellow writers. The questions you’ve sent me for my meetings with my various photo subjects, have been great, and I really appreciate your nominations of people I should consider photographing for The Wordsmiths Project. Please keep them coming.

One reader asked if I feel that writers conferences are often worth the money and time. The short answer is… yes.

In fact, I am currently at LunaCon, a science fiction conference of writers and readers in Rye, NY, where I am speaking on a few panels about the business of writing (Understanding Publishing Contracts, What Happens When Your Book Is Bought by a Publisher, and others.). I enjoy the networking with fellow writers, editors and readers that such conferences offer. It gives me a chance for what I call creative cross-fertilization. Invariably, I come home energized with new ideas – often about marketing my work, sometimes new ways of thinking about plot and character, and usually new perspectives about projects I had been too close to. In other words, every time I speak at a conference, I easily learn as much as I teach.

But the trick is to find the right conference for your interests, and to be sure your expectations are reasonable.

Many writers make the mistake of pinning their hopes on connecting with just the right agent and/or editor at a conference. You know that dream — finding the one person who will love what you have to say so much that he or she is ready to help you push your work to the next level with sales to your dream magazine or a six-figure advance for your book. Yes, sometimes that happens, albeit very rarely. (In fact, I’m told that Jean Auel, the best selling author of “Clan of the Cave Bear” was discovered by her agent Jean Naggar at a writers conference.) But if that is your entire focus when attending a conference, you’ll miss out on some great opportunities.

Conferences are designed as great learning experiences, where lectures and panel discussions can help your career, business sense and/or creativity. However, for me, the biggest reason to go to these things are the people I can meet and get to know. For instance, when you attend a panel on which your dream editor is speaking, yes, of course, listen to her carefully, take notes on what she wants and how she likes to be contacted. But don’t forget to also talk to the person sitting next to you. That fellow writer may have insights and experiences that can help you, and you might be able to help him. Believe it or not, helping another writer can also be useful, if only to get you to tap into your own knowledge in new ways. Besides, just talking with others who have the same concerns and interests as you do can be the best part of any conference.

The other side of the equation is finding the right conference for your interests, needs and budget. For nonfiction writers, the one that I have found to be invaluable is ASJA’s (American Society of Journalists Authors) annual conference in New York City, which will be April 21-22 this year (with Member’s Day on April 20th). Alas, this will be the first ASJA conference Daniel and I will be missing since joining ASJA, because we have other obligations. Another conference that I respect is the Philadelphia Writers Conference. Of course, there are genre conferences, for writers of mysteries, romance, science fiction and so forth, as well as for those who cover travel, health and other nonfiction specialities.

To help you understand what I look for in a good conference, I’ll describe ASJA’s, which has a good balance between learning and networking opportunities, plus out-and-out fun. For members only, it schedules brief one-on-one meetings with editors and agents (what Daniel calls speed-dating for writers). But everyone can go to panels that provide advice about managing your business, opening up new markets, finding great story sources, breaking into new magazines, finding the right agent, etc. Then, there are the cocktail parties, lunches, and hallway discussions, as well as the hang-out room for relaxing and getting to know your fellow attendees. Another useful activity is the mentoring meetings that match you with a fellow writer who has experience in the area you are trying to break into.

When considering a conference, look over its schedule and roster of speakers carefully. Make sure it will address your personal and professional concerns, and that the speakers are people who actually make a living at what they do, rather than just wannabes. What’s more, the speakers should represent the kind of market you want to break into, and the attendees should be at least on your own professional level or higher. Look over the panel and seminar topics; do you think they will answer questions you have or help you move your writing career forward? Is it run by a for-profit organization, or one that exists primarily to assist writers? I tend to have more respect for the events put on by the latter

If you want more workshops for discussing your own writing than panels about the business of writing, be sure to pick one that emphasizes that focus. (You might be better off finding a dedicated workshop as opposed to a conference.) Then, there are the programs that mix readers with writers – such as the science fiction “Cons.” For writers, it is invaluable to mingle with readers, to get to know what they love, as well as for them to get to meet you and perhaps become one of your fans.

One final recommendation. Don’t bring your manuscript to the conference, unless you have a mentoring appointment or are signed up for a critique workshop. It is considered one of the great faux pas (and the mark of an amateur) to hand a manuscript or proposal to an editor or agent at these events. Instead, get their business cards, find out what their preferences are in terms of the kinds of material they are seeking, how they like to be queried and whether you should send it via email or snail mail. Then, after the conference, customize your letter, proposal and manuscript according to what you learned. It will increase your chances considerably of making that sale or getting that advance. (See my journal entry “How to Lose Agents & Infuriate Editors“ for other suggestions about querying.)

And if you happen to be at a conference where I’ll be, please do say hi.

Send me your questions for Pat Schroeder & Richard Curtis

Are you old enough (or enough of a modern history buff) to remember that the Weathermen were a militant radical group who used terrorism tactics in what they considered a revolution against the U.S. government? Well, looking at the weather forecasts for the next two days for the Northeast United States, which promises heavy snow and sleet, I can understand why that radical group chose the name Weathermen. I have been completely intimidated by the weathermen at Accuweather, and I’ve postponed my photo shoot with Pat Schroeder (president of the Association of American Publishers) until next week. In addition, I’ll be photographing and interviewing the literary agent Richard Curtis next week.

So, if you have any questions you’d like me to ask Pat Schroeder or Richard Curtis, please leave them in comments here, or send me an email (by clicking on Contact at the top of this screen). If you are sending an email, please put Wordsmiths in the subject line. Thank you. 

Do you have questions for Pat Schroeder, AAP President?

Posted on February 10th, 2007 in Association of American Publishers, Pat Schroeder by Sally

One of my readers has asked that I post who I will be photographing and interviewing, so that he (and others) might send me questions they would like me to ask the subject. I think it’s a great idea.

This coming week, I will be photographing former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who is now the president of the  Association of American Publishers. If you have any questions for her, please leave a Comment here or email me (click on Contact in the NavBar at the top of this page). If you are sending email, please put “Pat Schroeder” or “Wordsmiths” in the subject line.

 Thank you

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