WisRWA Calendar

Nov 01
2017
WisRWA 2017-2018 Renewals
Renewals for the upcoming year begin November 1, 2017. Any renewal that is received after January 15, 2018 will be incur a $5.00 late fee. Click the Join tab to renew your membership. Please direct any questions to WisRWA Secretary, Stefanie Dowell.
Feb 12
2018
Stop Dissing Romance! Panel at Boswell Book Company
Join WisRWA at Boswell Book Company on February 12 at 7 PM for a presentation on the romance genre and its role in the publishing industry by a panel of Publishing Professionals. Bobbi Dumas, a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate, and founder of Read a Romance Month will moderate. More information to follow.
Oct 06
2018
WisRWA 2018 Fall Workshop
Mark your calendars for the 2018 Fall Workshop on October 5-6, 2018 at the Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort, Rothschild, WI. For more information, click the Workshop tab.
Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

Dec 13
2017
Green Bay
11:30-??

Green Bay Area Holiday Party

Bring a dish to pass and a gift worth no more than $15 if you wish to participate in the exchange. Please contact Mary Grace Murphy, Green Bay Area Contact, for details
Dec 16
2017
Milwaukee
12:00-3:00 pm

Milwaukee Area Holiday Party

Bring a dish to pass and a gift worth no more than $15 for the gift exchange. Please contact Jennifer Rupp, Milwaukee Area Contact, for details.
Jan 03
2018
Green Bay
11:30-2:00; 1951 West, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

Understanding Writing Contests

Green Bay Area Member, Nancy Sweetland will take us through the process of preparing for a writing contest. She will also share information about RWA's RITA award and Golden Heart contests as well as WisRWA's own Fabulous Five Contest and Write Touch Readers Award.
Jan 13
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30; Deb’s Café, 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

Transitions: Scenes, Characters, Time

Winter is here! A cold wind is blowing, snow is falling, and ice makes walking out your own front door hazardous. There’s no better time to hunker down where it’s warm and WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! Bring examples, both good and bad, from what you’re reading and be prepared to discuss why it does or does not work.
Jan 20
2018
Milwaukee
11:00-2:30; Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level)

Up Close and Personal: Achieving Intimacy through Voice and Deep POV with Heather Luby

Point of view isn’t just an element of storytelling—it is the foundation of any captivating story. Diving into a Deep POV and utilizing the tools of narrative voice is how we thrust our readers into the minds of our characters and push them into the fictional dream. In this fast paced, hands-on workshop, you will learn the key elements necessary to write immersive, voice driven prose. Come prepared to learn how character, dialogue, and voice work in tandem with Deep POV to leave your reader emotionally spellbound. It is recommended you bring 1-2 sample chapters of your own work for hands-on learning.
Feb 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-2:00; 1951 West, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

Ins and Outs of Novellas

Green Bay Area member, Kayla Bain-Vrba will share her process on how to write a novella.
Feb 10
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12; Volume One, 205 N Dewey St, Eau Claire

Social Media for Writers

Karissa Zastrow will speak on “Social Media for Writers”. Her presentation will focus on tips and tricks to help you use the most popular social media platforms to promote your writing without burning hours of your precious writing time. Check our event on the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Facebook page and let us know if you are attending!
Feb 17
2018
Milwaukee
9-11:30 AM; Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level)

WisRWA Milwaukee Writing Circle Hosted by Milwaukee Area member, Tricia Quinnes

Get ready to write! We'll have a write-in day with sprints and brainstorming help as needed.
Mar 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-2:00; 1951 West, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

How to Write a Series

Green Bay Area member, Lily Silver will share her process on how to write a successful series.
Mar 10
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30; Deb’s Café, 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

Fear of Writing and Publishing: Success and/or Failure

Is fear holding you back from realizing your dream? Are you afraid of the writing/publishing process, afraid of failing after all your best efforts, or, yes, even afraid of actually succeeding? Then this discussion is for you.

WisRWA Newsletter



Publishing Industry

Phyllis Piano: Ten Things I Learned as a New Author

While long-published authors put my meager knowledge to shame, I did learn a lot in the last year. Needless to say, getting attention for a novel with all the competition for attention is a tough assignment. Here are the most important things I learned during the process of getting my first novel published.

Writer using computer and taking paper notesThe writing is the fun and easy part.  Right now, I am still promoting my first two books, editing my third, writing my fourth and partnering on a non-fiction project.  There is so much work involved in all these that has nothing to do with writing—there’s a web site, social media (see below), PR plans, book events and planning, essays to help promote the books (you are reading one), “tip sheets” to help sell your book; meeting with book clubs……I could go on and on.  You must use every skill you have—and develop new ones—to promote your book to the widest audience.

It’s a year-long process after writing your book. Lots has to happen from the time you finish your book until it is published.  For me, the process began when I sent my final manuscript to my publisher in December, 2015. There are two windows for traditional publishing: spring or fall.  As time was short to accomplish everything, we chose the fall cycle for my first novel.  Even with that, the final title of my book had to locked down by March 1 with the cover design well underway.  I know more about the cycle now and released my second book in August of this year because the timing fit perfectly with the PR plan.  Choose the most advantageous time to publish your book.

Summarizing your book in one paragraph is the hardest thing to do.  I failed at this, miserably!  My friend and established author, Kris Radish, stepped in to help me. It is so hard to tell the story of your book in so few words without giving away key elements, but it is exactly this summary that attracts readers to your book on every platform there is, especially Amazon (more on that below). Work hard to create the fewest words to describe your work. Your short book summary is its biggest selling point.

Amazon is the big gorilla.  I certainly knew this before becoming an author, but I now have personal experience with the biggest name in books. I learned that establishing an Author Central page on Amazon was critically important, and I did this by “claiming” my book as part of my page creation.  My husband is English and we have tons of family and friends in England, so I wanted to make it easy for them to purchase my book, so I claimed my book on Amazon UK as well. Amazon can change the price of a book any time they want, and they did bring the retail price down on my book as part of the pre-sale. Amazon is king, so take advantage of it, but understand how it works.

Social media is king.  As publishing is so fragmented, using social media to get the word out about your book isn’t a “nice to do,”  it’s a “must do.”  This means as a writer you must develop new platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. and connect your own web site to social media tools.  Luckily, I knew a bit about social media through professional and personal experience, but I learned a ton more because of my book.  Get familiar with social media and use its power to promote your book every day.

Friends and family rule.  They know you and want to help, so give them the tools.  I did mailing lists of all the folks I know in cities where I did book events; I sent a customized email to key friends and family about the book and how to buy it; I asked a few friends for their early thoughts and asked them to review my book on Amazon or Goodreads.  I used Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep contacts informed of good reviews and awards and issued calls to action.  You’ll be surprised at some of the folks who step up to help you. The people who know you well are best suited to help promote your book.Two women sharing on their phones

Be bold.  To get your book out there, you have to take some risks. Unfortunately, many don’t work out, but if a few do, you may hit the jackpot in promoting your book. I sent my book to some well-known authors, reporters and others in the movie industry, and this hasn’t paid off in a big way yet.  A few months before my book came out, I sent an email to a small, local magazine about publishing a notice about my first novel.  They did a whole story with a sidebar about the book, and I ended up on the cover!  Make a lot of shots on goal in promoting your book, as you never know which one will result in great exposure.

Incorporate what you know and love into your book promotion.  I spent more than thirty years in corporate communication, so I wrote an essay that was published in an industry newsletter about how my career helped me become an author. I love to cook, bake and travel, and, of course, write, so I incorporate all of these into my book promotions, connecting across social media platforms.  Make promoting your book fun for you.

It’s never enough or totally done.  Here’s the bad news:  promoting your book is never over, you just move on to the next one.  Here’s the good news: my publisher tells me that it takes two or three books before an author can get established, so each subsequent book brings attention to earlier works, which can result in additional sales. Never give up on bringing your work to the world as your efforts today could pay off well down the road.

It’s all on you.  Whether you are working with a publisher or self-publishing, you are the one who needs to do the lion share of the work to get your book out there. You must do something every day to bring your work to the world. I was lucky that my publisher had great people who taught me about the book business, but at the end of the day, it was up to me. Quick story:  I had my screening mammogram recently and got into a conversation with the technologist, and she bought my book!  She asked me to talk to her son, an aspiring fantasy writer, and I did. Engage and put yourself out there; you are the best ambassador for your work.

Phyllis PianoPhyllis Piano spent more than 30 years working in Fortune 500 companies, serving as an officer and chief communication officer in several. Her first novel, Hostile Takeover: A Love Story, was published in October 2016, and received the Gold Medal in Romance at the 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin Awards and first place in Fiction: Romance at the 2017 Independent Press Awards. Her second, Love Reconsidered, was published in August, 2017, and was a finalist in the 2017 Best Books Award.

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Get Ready to Submit with Cheryl Yeko

Cheryl YekoMilwaukee WisRWA member Cheryl Yeko will be at the October meeting to work with participants on GETTING READY TO SUBMIT! This is a hands-on workshop, so bring your query letter draft, summary, synopsis, author bio, elevator speech, and pitch. We will work on tightening up the elements needed to make your novel sound publish-worthy. Cheryl is Senior Acquiring Editor at Soul Mate Publishing and accepts submissions for Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Erotica. Jennifer Rupp, Milwaukee area contact, asked her a few questions about her work.

JENNIFER: As an editor, what is your biggest pet peeve?

CHERYL: First, I love being an editor, but I guess the thing that bugs me the most is when I receive a submission that doesn’t follow the formatting guidelines. That’s one more step I have to take to get the manuscript in reading order. Or worse yet, they just copy and paste the submission into the email itself.

JENNIFER: Do you ever say, “Yes! This is the one,” after reading the first line of a query letter?

CHERYL: No. The query letter may grab my attention enough to ask for a submission. But it’s really the synopsis, and first chapter of the manuscript that sells the story (or not).

JENNIFER: Are there any particular tropes that you love or hate?

CHERYL: The misunderstanding trope is not my favorite. You can have misunderstandings in a manuscript, but that isn’t enough to carry the entire story, in my opinion. I love the secret baby trope. {I know, right? Don’t tell anyone.}

JENNIFER: When you meet someone at a pitch session, what are you really looking for?

CHERYL: I’m looking for a good story. Pure and simple. I assume whomever is pitching knows how to write. I don’t care if they pull out a cheat sheet and read their pitch to me. It’s all about the story.

JENNIFER: You work for Soul Mate. Did you have to submit a query letter to get your books accepted?

CHERYL: Only for my first book, PROTECTING ROSE. Now I just let Debby (my editor and owner of SMP) know I have a manuscript and send it over for her to take a look at. She’s never turned one of my books down yet . . . knock on wood.

WISRWA: If you didn’t work in the publishing industry, what would you like to do?

CHERYL: Retirement maybe? 😊 I love my work with Soul Mate Publishing and don’t want to do anything else. Besides being an author myself, and Acquiring Editor, I’m also the Cover Art Coordinator, where I get to work with all the amazing artists to make our book covers rock, as well as create the monthly newsletter, and handle all their social media promotions.
I wouldn’t change a thing!

by: Jennifer RuppJennifer Rupp

Jennifer Rupp is the Area Contact for Milwaukee Chapter of WisRWA. She writes under the name of Jennifer Trethewey. Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency in New York represents her Highland House historical romance series. Jennifer has placed in the SOLA Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, Indiana’s Golden Opportunity Contest, and WisRWA’s Fab Five Contest. She’s a member of Wisconsin RWA, a PRO member of RWA, Red Oak Writing Studio, and Wisconsin Writers Association.

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Book Launch Parties: The Hows and Whys

WisRWA members, Mia Jo Celeste, author of Other Than, and Barbara M.  Britton, author of Providence and Building Benjamin, will be talking about book launch parties (both actual and virtual) at the June WisRWA meeting in Milwaukee. Jennifer Rupp asked them a few questions about their first year as published authors.Brenda Nelson-Davis

 

Jen: Brenda and Barbara, you’ve both released your debut novels within the last twelve months. Did it come as a shock how involved you would have to be in the marketing of your own book?

Brenda: Yes. Although I’d heard a lot about marketing, taken some classes and been a blogger for years, I was surprised about the time and financial commitment. That said, I like marketing—something I never imagined I would.

Barbara: Yes, definitely. Publishing has changed so much since I started my journey ten years ago. I knew I would have a hand in marketing my books, but I didn’t know I would be the driving force behind getting the word out about my novels.

 

Barbara M. BrittonJen: About how much time per week do you spend actively marketing, engaging in social media, updating your website, blogging, etc.?

Brenda: It varies. Usually I check Twitter and Facebook every couple of days and I’ve been trying to appear in cyberspace a couple of times a week, either on my blog or someone else’s. For me, it’s a lot like student teaching. Because so many tasks are new, they take longer to figure out and complete, but I’m sure that I’ll get faster and I’ll figure out which tasks are the most important to complete.

Barbara: I feel I do some sort of marketing every day because of social media. Certainly I am more involved right before, during, and after a release. With Pelican Book Group, I have an e-book release date that is different than my print release date. Twice the fun—and work. I would say my average is 5-10 hours a week.

 

Jen: Now that you’re a published author, do you write with more confidence?

Brenda: I hope the adage “practice makes perfect” works. Because I write more, I’m more comfortable writing and, God willing, my writing is getting better.

Barbara: Yes and no. I feel I have the basic craft of writing down pat, but doubts plague me as a published writer. I’m thinking my work isn’t good enough, or my success was a fluke. I have to silence those nasty voices and tell myself that I am writing solely for myself. If no one sees my book, that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed writing it and learning through my research.

 

To hear more from Brenda and Barbara, please join us at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level) on June 17 from 9-11:30 AM. It’s sure to be a great time.

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Q&A with Abby Saul of The Lark Group

Abby Saul of The Lark GroupIn April, the Milwaukee Area will be hosting literary agent Abby Saul from The Lark Group at our meeting. With the May conference in Green Bay (which will be fantastic) right around the corner, Abby’s help with tweaking and practicing our pitches, queries, and openings, is timely.

Here’s a chance for us to get to know Abby a little better before the meeting.

Q: Your website indicates that the Lark Group is an agile and editorially focused agency. What does that mean to authors?
A: We work quickly to help our authors present the best product possible. As a new and small agency, The Lark Group is able to experiment, quickly pivot to new opportunities, and help our authors find new paths (in their writing, in the way they publish, in the way we get their books in front of editors). But the quality of the book remains paramount, and that’s where our editorial focus comes in! I’ve gone through at least two rounds of editorial revisions with all of my clients’ manuscripts, addressing big and small things, to help make their books the best they can be. So what does that mean for our authors? It means they know they have a true partner helping them get a truly excellent book published. (It also means it’s easy to get me on the phone!)

Q: Why is it advantageous to work with an agent rather than directly query a publisher?
<strong:A: Most obviously, many publishers won’t accept unagented submissions – without an agent, you can’t even get your manuscript read! Houses that do accept unagented submissions will often put those submissions at the bottom of the pile, prioritizing projects that come in from agents. So an agent helps you get your project into the house for consideration. But it goes much deeper than that.

It’s my job as an agent to know what editor is looking for what kind of project, and thus create a submission list that’s tailor-made to your project. It’s also my job as an agent to negotiate your contract (and keep the business arrangements as much in your favor as possible), to be your advocate in all things (editorial changes, marketing plans, cover design, etc), and to be a force to be reckoned with in terms of you getting paid and helping manage your author brand. It’s also my job to have foreign, audio, and film/tv contacts to sell subsidiary rights for your books. Going it alone can work for some authors, but those business and industry pitfalls (contract traps, late payments, figuring out who to contact in Germany, the force of a whole publishing company worrying about itself instead of you, and so on) can be tremendously daunting for most authors, and that makes it easy for unrepresented authors to make unnecessary mistakes. An agent is your partner in all aspects of this business, and is there to advocate (always!) for you.

Q: Do you work with self-published authors, or do writers who plan to self-publish still need an agent?
A: I don’t currently have any self-published authors on my client list, but I’ve worked with them in the past. I do strongly believe that the days of a project making it big on the self-publishing side and then being picked up by a Big 5 publisher are over. If you’ve self-published a book, you’ve self-published it. It’s not going to be traditionally published after that. But self-publishing success on the romance side can translate to a traditional publisher being interested in your next work, and that’s where you might want to think about an agent.

Agents are pros at helping authors make career changes, and moving from indie publishing to traditional publishing is a big one. Even if you want to stay on the indie/self-publishing side of the industry, an agent can help you sell subsidiary rights for your work (foreign, audio, film/tv, etc). I’ll also note that a lot of romance authors write fast (it’s impressive!) and more and more authors in traditional deals are publishing on a hybrid schedule: fulfilling their traditional contracts while also pursuing self-publishing (of a different series) on the side. Agents can help navigate having your feet in both pools, and make sure you’re respecting contracts schedules, etc.

Thanks Abby! We’re looking forward to meeting with you in person.
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Milwaukee Area April Meeting – Polish Your Pitch with Abby Saul of The Lark Group

Join the Milwaukee area for the April meeting. Polish your pitch with Abby Saul of The Lark Group. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.
WisRWA's Milwaukee Area April Meeting

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Trends in Publishing from a Bookseller’s Perspective

Daniel Goldin of Boswell Books, on Trends in Publishing
The Milwaukee Area is hosting Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company on Saturday, March 18. He’ll be talking about trends in publishing, from the perspective of a bookseller. He’ll be looking at the relationships between publisher/bookstore and novelist/bookstore, as well as field questions about book launches and readings. We thought you might like to get to know him a bit before his talk, so we asked him a few questions.

Q: Why do you think Boswell is thriving?
A: Honestly, I wake up every day and ask myself that question. I honestly wouldn’t say thriving, but chugging along. Every store is two mistakes away from closing. But I definitely can credit my booksellers (particularly Amie and Jason, our buyer/managers, but there’s a lot of amazing contributions), my customers, our landlords (we’ve had two), the previous owners of Schwartz, my family, publisher support, and author support too. I would say on my part, there are a few things that help:

  1. I love books and reading, which sort of gives us a sense of mission.
  2. I love retail, which means that I’ve studied what seems to work and what doesn’t all my life.
  3. I like both details and big picture.
  4. I always want to do the best job I can do. Of course, the best I can do sometimes isn’t all that great, but what can you do?
  5. I understand that I and Boswell can’t be everything to everybody.

I am also a big fan of under-promising. It’s better to be a little better than expectations than vice versa. I’ve found that’s a good character fit for Milwaukee, which also can be a little better than you’d expect.

Q: Do I read romance novels?
A: Of course I’ve read romance novels. And I can answer that question in two ways.

Firstly, many books masquerading as other genres, or no genre, are in fact romances, from YA to contemporary women’s fiction to historical and even a good amount of what poses as literary fiction (meaning that the author also teaches in an AWP program).

And secondly, in my day, I’ve read pretty serious genre. In my past life, I was a publicist at Warner Books, which had a strong group of romance writers. I would try to read one of the books so that I could talk about them more fluently. One year I even helped run our booth at the RWA convention. I was a big fan of Dorothy Garlock, and while we haven’t corresponded in many years, we continued to be pen pals (yes, this is pre-computer) for quite a while after I left publishing. I was a big fan of our two romance editors, the now-retired Fredda Isaacson, and Claire Zion, who is still editing at Berkley/NAL. One of her current authors is Renée Rosen, who is at Boswell for Windy City Blues on March 21, 1 pm. It’s a great historical about the Chicago music and Civil Rights scene in the 50s and 60s with a romance at the center.

Thanks for talking with us, Daniel! We’ll see you on March 18.

Saturday’s meeting is open to all. Come visit if you’d like to see what WisRWA is about.

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