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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What I Learned In New York


I learned nearly as much about the publishing industry just by going to New York as I did by going to the conference. Not to say I didn't learn a lot at the conference, I certainly did, but this was my first time in New York and I learned a lot about the people who live and work there by visiting it. I've been to Hawaii, Oklahoma, and now New York attending writer conferences and this is the first time I felt like I really got what the publishing industry was all about.

The publishing industry can feel like a very cold, callous place at times, what with all the form rejections and good writing that is passed up. Much of what I've been told about New Yorkers reflects that. But I have to tell you, they aren't the rude stereo types you've heard about. There are a lot of people in New York and everyone is busy rushing off to do something so there isn't time for small talk and niceties. Until you see New York you can't grasp the scope of just how many people are struggling to break out in this industry.

You and your work have to stand out from the masses, and by masses I mean thousands upon thousands of other writers who want it just as bad as you do. You have to want it more and work that much harder. There must be something that is not just great, but unique about your work that will snap publishers to attention and make them want to read it. Most importantly though, you must know deep down what your book is really about. You have to cut through all the prose, back story, and plotting and get straight to the heart of it. Publishers want someone who gets that. They have no time for those who don't. Don't wait for a trip to New York or a big conference to do this, do it in your query. Best of luck!

15 comments:

  1. This is a perfect analogy and a good reminder. Sometimes after writing fifty or eighty thousand words, trying to sum everything up with a sentence or two can be a real challenge.

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  2. It can be really hard! This conference helped me remember that when you're trying to sell your book it's all about the heart of the book, not all that surrounds it!

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  3. Heather, you explained NY and it's people perfectly! Not until you walk through the city and listen to the horns blare and watch the UPS driver hang out of his truck and yell, "What the f... are you doing you f...en idiot!" do you get a feel for the rush and pace of this city. And yes...busy people moving, pushing, shoving, climbing and scratching their way to the top. They don't have time for anyone or anything to get in their way. Now, picture your manuscript in the center of that, with all the other manuscripts, pushing, shoving, and scratching their way in... yours has to be special. There is no time for anything less. I completely understand. Not only does it have to be special, but we have to be concise...so we can cut through the wave and get to the point.
    An author can get caught up in that wave and either we learn to surf, or we drown. No middle ground.
    I am so glad you had the opportunity to experience this.

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  4. Exactly Karlene! I'm so glad I did too. Now I fully understand how competetive it is and just how hard I have to work!

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  5. True story! I especially like the part about the heart of your story. My favorite stories are the ones with plenty of heart, the ones that aren't afraid to explore the pain. Great post!

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  6. I've never been to NY, so I'm glad you shed some light on it for me as I'm sure I'll be there one of these years! RWA is holding it's 2011 conference there I believe...

    Did you get to do anything, go anywhere, outsiude of the conference?

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  7. So glad it was an awesome experience for you! I really hope it works out w/the editor who is interested. New York is such a fun place with such amazing energy. It's been too long since I've visited.

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  8. You should definitely try to go to RWA 11' Lindsey, it would be the experience of a lifetime! I didn't have much time outside of the conference but some of my new friends and I did get to check out a few resteraunts and Times Square!

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  9. Thanks Lisa! You're right, NY has some amazing energy! I didn't know you've been there!

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  10. Great post! You've definitely captured something elusive about the city--there's an immediacy and action, but also a "we're all in this together" attitude. New York feels almost surreal, like walking onto a movie set. When I've visited, I've always been amazed by the number of offices still lit up when I look out from my hotel window. So many writers with the same dream ... it's almost scary!

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  11. I love visiting New York, Heather. I've always found the people to be very nice and even helpful (yes!). On a visit two years ago a policeman gave me an NYPD baseball cap. How fun!Another great conference is Thrillerfest, which is coming up this month and is held in NY.

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  12. That's it exactly Portia! There is a sense of community despite the craziness. As for so many having the same dream, it can be scary when you think of it. But hey, it's a good dream ;)

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  13. I love that your experiences in New York have been so positive Jule! Thrillerfest is another great conference, pretty much THE conference for thriller writers! Thanks for reminding me.

    If you're a thriller writer peeps be sure to check it out!

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  14. Wonderful insight, Heather, about how publishers want writers who "know deep down what their book is about." They are no fools! Thank you so much for putting it so eloquently. This is the perfect inspiration for shaping that query letter.

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