Monday, March 5, 2012

LTUE Recap: What I Wish I Had Done Differently

I usually suck at taking pictures at conferences, but this one came out okay, don't you think?

This awesome group of photogenic authors was the "What I Wish I Had Done Differently" panel. I took LOTS of notes, so bear with me.

  • Stayed with writing group too long—tried to please everyone, felt like writing to committee 
    • Ruined a book for her, it became something she didn't like 
    • Now has to spend time figuring out what she loves before she shares it—finishes whole book before letting someone else read it 
  • Brand: if you want to create a brand, you are limiting yourself 
    • Publisher made her have princesses on covers, even when there is no princess in the book: she thinks the series is about the hound 
  • Once compromised by changing skin color from black to white to sell more books, wishes she hadn't 
  • A few agents offered to agent her, good friends reminded her that the money flows to the author: don’t pay a reading fee, etc 
    • Queried 20 different novels: tried to decide if “this is really good enough” and decided it was not yet good enough. Revised #6 or 7 and sold it – wanted big agent, didn’t want to compromise, waited until she had a manuscript that was good enough to get her what she wanted 
    • Don’t just keep sending out work that isn't good enough 
  • Uses blog to jump-start writing every day, uses internet as reward for writing 2 pages, limits how much she can surf before more pages 
  • Don’t write anything for at least a day after someone attacks you online 
    • Turn off Google alerts 
    • Can be hard when someone has a factual error, points out an “error” that isn’t there – rise above the fray: it doesn’t make you look good as an author 
  • Stupid stuff I did: After signed with agent, sent to an editor who asked for it at a conference, the editor talked to the agent about it, he yelled at her 
  • Publicity: people focus way too much time on publicity: need good product first 
  • Husband doesn't read her work at any stage: need supportive spouse, they don’t need to like your work [This is really good news for me. :)]
  • Can’t outline, but tries to write the first sentence of the next chapter before she stops for the day 
  • Can control how many times you send it out, not whether it is published
  • People have short attention spans 
    • Authors need short blurbs, quick book releases 
  • Brand: get short description that describes you and all your books ("Clean YA") 
  • Compromise: trend is to put certain content in books, her agent got her a contract at a big 6 publisher, she felt sick about it, she wanted to have a guarantee to have clean content, agent flipped out, publisher didn't agree, they wanted control, she turned them down, left her agent, went out on her own, has been pretty successful so far 
  • If considering indie, agents can help with that, movie contracts, etc 
  • Understand the publishing world. 
  • Even bad reviews are good
  • Husband is critical thinker, finds her plot problems: she reads books out loud to him before done with editing 
  • She's a chronological structured person, everyone different, find what looks for you
  • Stop rewriting: conclude when it’s the best you can make it, then move on 
    • Will learn more by writing something new than by excessive polishing 
  • Brand: write what interests you, your brand will emerge on its own 
  • Agents are dangerous because there's no school or vetting process. Anyone can stick their shingle out and advertise representation. Look to word of mouth to find a good one.
  • Agents aren't the only path anymore: if you’re not comfortable with an agent, you don’t have to have one 
  • Internet has always been a time-sink, is worse now. Get off the internet: you’ll never get that time back. Would have gotten so much more done if he’d gotten off the internet. 
  • One reviewer seems to be opposite his fans: the worse she likes it, the more fan-mail he gets on it 
  • Work on new stuff often: your first million words are crap – if you get stuck on the first thing and try to make it perfect, you’ll have a lot of heartache 
  • Wife reads books after they are published 
  • Pantser for small works, crash and burn at pantsing at novel length 
  • Submit to the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest!!!!
  • Got advice to change something that she didn't agree with, she changed it, made it to quarter finals of Amazon contest, then changed it back and queried. 
  • Brand: her name 
    • When you don’t have published works yet, you are just you, her husband is funnier, but he doesn’t have a blog, so no one comes to his 
    • Did a blog post on whether you’d buy a book because you like someone, lots of people said yes 
    • If you want to be a career author, write lots of books 
  • Compromised writing time for social networking: would not do that again 
  • Queried for 16 months, 2 different books, spoke on phone 5 times with agents before got offer of representation: if you keep working at it, you’ll find your agent 
  • Don’t engage in conversations with haters – find out that your book is either one people really like or really don’t like, she was getting hate mail, hasn't read a review since March 
  • Held onto first novel too long: not the next Twilight. 
  • Publicity: Simon/Schuester has bigger authors who get all the money, her marketing budget is small 
    • She looks at her life and decides what she can find with hours and dollars and that’s what she spends 
  • Husband despises YA love stories: he’ll read them in ARC form to show support, but then she endures vampire-like commentary 
  • She's a pantser, has documents she’s never finished, writes lots of scenes then pieces them together like a train wreck – tried outlining, it took 3 months, wrote book in 25 days, never tried that again (but she recommends that you try each of the different ways to see what works best for you) 
  • Write more. Writer’s write. If that doesn't work, write another book, don’t spend time on things that don’t advance you as a writer

Kevin Wasden (illustrator)
  • (came late) Learned needs to leave 30 minutes early :)
  • Agents will get you in doors with the bigger companies – depends on the market, what you want to accomplish 
  • Internet feedback is cool, but doesnt necessarily advance your career 
  • Always treat the little jobs as a big job 

Whew. Okay, that's it. Aren't they cool? Have they changed any of your plans / expectations?


  1. Thanks for posting this Robin. Allows those of us who were not able to attend the conferrence to get something out of it.

    1. Totally welcome. Makes for easy blog posts.... ;)

  2. This was a good lecture. I really enjoyed it. AND I got to sit next to my friend, Robin!

    1. The seating arrangement was the best part!

  3. Really insightful stuff. Thanks so much for taking great notes and posting this!

    1. I feel cool with my mini laptop. But when I have it, I get obsessed with note-taking. So I'm glad you can benefit! :D

  4. I loved that class. I was very much impressed by the control aspect that Andrea spoke of.

  5. Great notes again . . . had Q about what Mette said: .
    Stupid stuff I did: After signed with agent, sent to an editor who asked for it at a conference, the editor talked to the agent about it, he yelled at her

    *Does she mean she got yelled at b/c she didn't allow the agent to send it for her?