USA Today Best of 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Teaching... and learning

I've spent a lot of time the past couple weeks being a student as well as planning my first foray into the world of writing workshops. In August, I'll be teaching a workshop on deep 3rd point of view at Passionate Ink--which I'm so excited about, but I waited until the last possible day to get them my bio, photo, and the dreaded workshop description (which for me meant I had to compile a rough rubric so I'd know what I was describing). Got me thinking a whole lot about how much I've learned (as did an outcry via Twitter when I posited that romance novels cannot headhop or they won't get contracted), what I still work on in my writing, and what submissions seem to be most lacking in. Deeep thoughts, let me tell ya.

So what have I been learning? Well, we're down to about 12 days left of judging Lyrical's first-ever writing contest, and the experience has taught me a number of "do's n don'ts" for next year.

  • Do: Organize the contest in 2 rounds, first round consisting of the synopsis and 1st 25 pages.
  • Do: Make the 2nd round ONLY for the top-5 scoring entries in each genre.
  • Don't: Ever agree to judge an un-specified number of full manuscripts. Period.
  • Do: Specify in contest rules that all entries in "romance" genres have a happy ending.
I also learned tons from my first pitch-taking.
  • Do: Specify word count. Lyrical publishes only up to 100k word books, and I've had to turn away several promising projects because they go over the word count.
  • Do: Emphasize that I only want pitches for completed novels. (I sorta thought this went without saying; everywhere you look at tips on querying or pitching fiction, that's the first rule--the book must be finished. But apparently things have changed since I started querying 5 or so years ago)
  • Don't: Be shy about signing up for pitch days. It was an exhausting 15 hours, but I fielded 48 pitches that day, and have had nothing but positive feedback. Also have offered contract on 2 books (very soon to be #3) and have 2 more promising fulls awaiting my reading pleasure. Turned out to be a fantastic way to get new blood in my editing "stable". Even the few people I've already sent R's or R-and-R's to, have replied positively and I'm hoping they'll think of Lyrical (and me) in the future.
Oh. One more incredible discovery I've made: It's so amazingly easy to send .doc or PDF files to my Kindle so I can read them there! I love my Fire. I really do.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!


Sutton Fox said...

Great list. You've learned a lot. :)

The Kindle Fire is fab. Love it!

Kate Reedwood said...

I agree with Sutton...great list and you've learned a lot! Glad it all worked out for you. Don't have a Kindle, but they do sound great :)