Tag Archives: Colorado Gold Conference

Oh, the People You’ll Meet

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

It’s conference time. In less than two weeks I’ll be joining a mess of fellow RMFW writers for the annual Colorado Gold Conference. Over the next week, you’ll get plenty of conference tips and how-to’s on this blog. Read them. Learn from others mistakes and triumphs. And most of all have a great time.

Today’s blog isn’t about conference going, but rather about the people you’ll meet along your publishing journey. The first conference I went to was in 2007. At these things you’ll meet plenty of other writers in very similar circumstances and places in their journey to publication. A bonus hardly anyone thinks about when faced with big-time agents and editors and the possibility of publication.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Yes, it is exciting and terrifying to meet with the gatekeepers who might hold your fate in their manicured hands. But these aren’t the most important people at a conference. Your fellow writers are. These are the people who will support your career in its various forms. These are the people who will provide reviews, blurbs, advice, and buy your books. These are the people you can call at 2am when you’re trapped in a scene or realized you killed off the wrong character 20 chapters ago.

In my 7 years attending RMFW’s conference, I’ve come to know a lot of my fellow writers. Some with publishing deals that make me want to stab them with my desert fork (which is why the hotel often serves desert with a spoon) and others just starting out who think I’m cool because my books are in print (these one’s quickly realize their mistake, but I usually have them captured by spoon point by then).

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see the people I started out with (in roughly the same place in our journeys) achieved great things. I look forward to hearing their stories or knowing, if you try hard enough and don’t give up, you can be a working writer.

To those of you attending your first conference, welcome. And please make sure to stop me and say hello. I want to know your story. I want to feel your excitement. I want to suck it from your bone marrow like a vampire (which is the best way to stay in the industry).

For those of you who I’ve met before, thank you for sharing your stories, and being a part of what makes the CO Gold Conference fun.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!

If you have a moment, please friend me on facebook or visit my website at www.jakazimer.com.

Look Who’s Coming to Colorado Gold: Matthew Martz, Crooked Lane Books

MattMartzMatt Martz began his publishing career in 2004 and joined Crooked Lane Books / Quick Brown Fox & Company in 2014 after 8 years on the editorial staff at St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books. He publishes crime fiction ranging from traditional mysteries to high concept thrillers. The authors with whom he has worked include Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Kelli Stanley and Barry Award nominee Tim O’Mara.

Pat: Matt, thank you so much taking the time to answer a few questions for us prior to the Colorado Gold Conference. Hopefully these interviews will help conference attendees select the best agent or editor for their pitches or critique workshops (and persuade a lot of potential attendees to join us in September).

Will this be the first time you’ve attended Colorado Gold? What’s your favorite part of the conference experience?

Matt: Happy to. This will be my first time attending Colorado Gold, and I’m really looking forward to it. My favorite part of the conference experience is meeting with new authors and helping them both in terms of their writing as well as their understanding of the publishing industry, which can be a little less than intuitive at times. I also enjoy hearing ideas from other professionals. There are number of talented people out there, and getting their insights on the business can be invaluable.

Pat: Would you tell us all about Quick Brown Fox & Company? Is it a new venture? Is it part of St. Martin’s Press or a completely separate company? With no specific website presence, how does The Quick Brown Fox find great authors and crime novels?

Matt: Quick Brown Fox & Co. is a new venture. It is a publishing startup with a terrific marketing affiliation with Bookspan. Bookspan is the owner of the country’s premier book clubs, including Book-of-the-Month, Doubleday, Literary Guild, and, of course, Mystery Guild, among others. We have tremendous resources to help readers discover new authors and launch careers. The focus of our first imprint Crooked Lane Books will be on crime fiction. The titles we will publish range from high concept thrillers to traditional mysteries and domestic suspense. While our website is not up as I’m writing, it will be up by mid-July (2014). In fact, I’ll be working on that this afternoon.

Pat: Please tell us a little about your background and what led you to join the world of publishing.

Matt: Whenever I’m asked how I came to a publishing career, I normally say that it was a combination of a misspent youth followed by an over-education in a field with questionable employment prospects. You’ll be amazed how well this summary covers most publishing professionals… or at least editors. My misspent youth was spent reading too many books, which led to a graduate program in creative writing. From there I took a job with Minotaur Books where I fell for crime fiction. The combination of top-notch writing and gripping plots made it the perfect home for me, not to mention plenty of readers.

Pat: What do you think of the whole concept of authors pitching to an agent or editor in ten minutes or less? Is there anything a writer can do during one of these sessions to make you more interested in seeing his work? Anything that’s an immediate turnoff?

Matt: The concept of trying to pitch a book in 10 minutes or less is hard, and it seems a little silly at this stage, but is important and necessary. In many ways, the publishing industry works like a game of telephone. The author tells the agent about a book. The agent passes the message onto the editor. The editor passes the message onto marketing, publicity, subrights, and sales who then pass it on to reviewers, bookstores, foreign publishers, and readers. Having a succinct and engaging message is very important.

When presenting a book, writers want to make sure that the editor understands why the book is worth reading, that writer is the right person to write the book, and the writer is the right person to present the book.

Less is more. Let the editors and agents know how you open the book, give them some idea whom the characters are, and give them a surprising twist or conflict. Stay away from running down the whole plot. And if you’re fortunate enough to have an agent or editor ask to see more of your work, give them whatever they want and then get heck out of there. Don’t sell past the close.

Pat: The conference schedule says you’ll be conducting one of the Agent/Editor Morning Critique Workshops. Many of our members have found their agent or publisher this way, so they’re very popular. What do you hope to see among the writing submissions (any particular sub-genre, a story line you’ve been hoping for, historical time period, or even a specific type of character)?

Matt: My focus is on crime fiction. That is a very broad genre, which is one of the main reasons why I love working in it. While I want to see terrific writing and a plot that moves, I also want to see manuscripts that fit into a recognizable subgenre. If a writer is working on a traditional, I want to see that charm, wit or puzzle on every page. If it’s a thriller, I want a fast opening and a high concept worth thinking about. If it’s a suspense novel, then I want to see that family under siege, and I want the book to tug on my heartstrings. More than anything else, I want to see writers who understand the genre they’re writing in and the readers that they’re trying to reach. Writers who can do that would find a very happy home with us.

Pat: How does a writer submit queries or partials to The Quick Brown Fox & Company? Are you open to unagented submissions from writers you haven’t met at conference?

Matt: Unfortunately, due to the quantity of submissions that we receive from agents, referred by writers we know, or manuscripts we solicit, we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts at this time. My advice is to find me during the conference and hit me with a pitch. That’s what I’m there for, so please don’t be shy.

Pat: Crime fiction covers a very broad range from cozy mystery to international thriller. What specific sub-genres do you prefer, both for personal reading and for potential publication?

Matt: My personal reading is broad, and I make a conscious effort to make sure that my tastes do not get in the way of what readers are looking for. Sometimes what an editor likes can blind them to what others like. We read a lot more books than the vast majority of the audience. For the most part, that’s a good thing but not always.

I may have answered this question to a certain extent a little earlier in this interview. I’m not interested in particular subgenre so much as I’m interested in writers who clearly understand the rules of their subgenre. Crime fiction has quite a few rules, which makes for some excellent writing. Authors who know how to give the readers the type of experience that they’re looking for are authors who will have long careers.

Pat: You keep a very low profile online, Matt. As a consolation prize for doing a lot of research with no good results, would you reveal something about yourself that will make us laugh?

Matt: I wish I could, but it’s against the rules of the witness protection program.

Pat:  That works! I laughed.

Thanks again, Matt. We appreciate your participation in our Colorado Gold Interview Project. We’re looking forward to meeting you in September.

Interview with Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher, Ellora’s Cave

raelenegorlinskyRaelene Gorlinsky, Publisher of Ellora’s Cave, will be presenting at the Colorado Gold Conference and taking pitch appointments.  Here’s a sneak peek at what she’s looking for and some great advice on writing and submitting:

1. What genres does Ellora’s Cave publish and how many books per year in each genre?

EC publishes erotic romance, erotica fiction, and romance (about 10% overall are the non-erotic romances). We publish 500 ebooks a year, of length from 7000 to 125,000 words. (About 250 to 300 stories go into print each year.) We do all genres within romance – paranormal, futuristic/scifi, fantasy and urban fantasy, BDSM, contemporary, historical, Western…

2. As an acquiring editor, what plot and/or character do you never want to see again? What would you love to see in the next manuscript you read?

ABSOLUTELY NO:
~ Billionaires. There are only 104 billionaires in the U.K., the country with one of the highest percentages of people at that wealth level — and I bet 103 of the 104 are *not* young, handsome and single.
~ Clones of the plots or characters of Fifty Shades, Twilight or Hunger Games. It’s been done, people; come up with your own blockbuster.
~ TSTL heroines, or weak heroines who let the hero or events control them rather than developing their own strength and taking charge of their own life.
~ Secret babies or amnesia plots, or anything else that’s a decades-old Harlequin cliche.
~ Bad or nonexistent research: I can’t stand stories that show the writer just followed cliches or what she’d read in other books, rather than do thorough research and fact-checking herself.
~ If you write erotica, no stories that tell me the hero’s penis size in inches, especially male-ego inches (It’s the swing of the stick, not the size of the bat, that makes the game exciting. Fact: the average size of an erect penis is around six inches.) or that misplace the heroine’s hymen (It’s at the vaginal opening, not inches deep inside).

I WILL TOTALLY FALL FOR:
~ Great world-building – it’s the most important part of a story for me.
~ Intelligent, realistic and emotional characters I can believe in.
~ I love urban fantasy romance. I personally have a thing for fantasy wings – dragons, angels, pegasuses, any paranormal/fantasy creature that flies.

3. As a professional editor, what’s the best advice you can give to writers submitting their first novels.

Have every submission brutally critiqued by experienced authors, and then proofread by several skilled proofreaders. If you don’t respect your work enough to make it as perfect as you can, why should an editor respect you or your story?

Writing for publication is a skilled trade, treat it as such and be a professional in your field. Learn about the publishing industry, read the industry news. Join writing organizations. Take classes to develop your skills. Attend conferences to network with other professionals in the field. Learn the promotion and marketing element of the business.

4. Do you recommend that authors have their manuscripts professionally edited before submitting, or is content and copy editing part of your normal process?

All accepted books go through our full editing process. But the better and cleaner a submission is, the more likely it will be accepted and the quicker it will get through edits.

5. What gets you excited in a query letter? What makes you hit the delete button?

I love a great, grabbing – and brief – blurb about the book. That’s what makes me eager to look at the manuscript.

Delete – Personal info about the author, babbling about why they write, things that indicate they know nothing about the publishing industry or the profession of writing. The things that matter are that the story is great and the author behaves professionally.

6. Tell us about your typical work day (and especially how many manuscripts you usually have waiting in your e-mail Inbox).

All submissions from authors not already contracted to EC go to our Submissions email address, not to individual editors. They get a pre-review to determine whether they may be of interest to us and fit our guidelines. If so, they go in the queue for editors who are acquiring. We get about 800 external submissions a year; our acceptance rate is around 4 to 5%.

My day? My “day” job is publisher – I deal with contracts and rights, vendors, sub rights deals (translation, audio, etc), plan ebook sales and promotions, plan our print books, supervise the cover art department and our ebook production department, provide guidance to the editorial department…

I edit on weekends – because I started as an editor, love editing and don’t want to ever stop doing it. I edit about 30-ish stories a year.

7. Writers are often advised to have a web presence before even selling their first manuscript. Of the following web and social media opportunities, which do you consider most important for the debut author: a website, a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads? Are there any others you recommend to your authors?

Website and/or blog. The aspiring author should certainly be on Goodreads as a READER, posting comments and participating in discussions, building contacts toward the day when she will be published.

8. What do you do for fun when you’re not working? Any unusual hobbies?

Hmm. I read, read, read. I love to discuss books and the publishing industry. I have two adored and adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgis that add love and liveliness to every day. I collect Tarot decks and children’s picture books with lovely art. I aspire to being an author of children’s picture books. I love hats and pearls. I really, really wish I could afford a Can-Am Spyder RT motorcycle.

9. How have changes in the world of publishing impacted your job (or company name) in the last year?

Every week is a new challenge (either opportunity or crisis, depending on how one views it). The industry is changing so rapidly that it’s a constant effort to keep up with what’s going on with sales channels, digital formats, changing international opportunities.

10. What advice would you like to give authors who plan to pitch their novel to you at Colorado Gold?

Make sure your story fits what EC publishes. And that your pitch starts off with a bang! Be able to tell me genre, length, and what makes your story special and “different”. If I have time, I’m happy to listen to “practice pitches” from nervous aspiring authors.