Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#Writertip Indie Publishing for Beginners

We've all heard the headlines: self-published author becomes overnight gazilionaire. And of course, we want in!

Stop right there, and read beyond the headlines to the true story.

First up, I'm going to de-bunk a few of the myths in that attention-grabbing headline.

Myth #1: Self-published means different things to different people. In this instance, self-published does not mean 'I paid a shitload to a vanity publisher to give me several boxes of printed books I have no idea how to sell'. In this instance, self-published actually means Indie Published. As in: an independent publisher. As in, the author has now become the publisher.

Myth #2: There is no such thing as 'overnight'. The most successful indie authors have been doing this a while. They've learned the craft of writing, learned about the publishing business and book marketing, and they've invested hard cash and even more time in building their successful careers.

Myth # 3: There hasn't been an indie published gazilionaire since Amanda Hocking and EL James sold their souls to traditional publishers back in 2011/12. Sure, there are lots of indie writers making a good living at it, but the golden age is over. Everyone and their mother-in-law is now self-publishing, and because of this complete explosion of content (without a corresponding explosion of readers) it means everyone is getting a little less of the pie than back in those golden years.

But enough with the doom and gloom. As I said, a good living can be made from self-publishing. After all, on the plus side, indie authors have content, marketing and pricing control of their work, so they can adapt quickly to changes in the market and hop on bandwagons before the big traditional publishers have even realised there is a bandwagon. If, like me, you're a control freak, then indie publishing is made for you! And finally, being an indie publisher means you get to keep all the profits. That's a pretty big incentive.

So what do you need to get started as an indie publisher?
There are just 3 things:
  1. Computer savvy. Don't even think about becoming an indie publisher if you can barely navigate your way around a Word document. Most indie publishing is digital. Unless you outsource absolutely everything (at major personal expense) you will need to be able to format your work correctly, upload it to any number of retail websites, create your own online profiles,  create your on teaser graphics, have a presence on social media, send out digital newsletters, preferably manage your own website, and a host of other online activities that require at least a little technical savvy.
  2. Start-up capital. You're no longer just an author. You are now a business. Which means you will need to invest at least a little start-up capital to launch your indie career. At the very least, you will need to hire a professional cover designer and a professional editor. Those are non-negotiable costs. Even if you are a graphic designer in your day job, if you do not also have a good grasp on digital formatting for book covers, book retailers' rules and restrictions, and an awareness of market expectations, you are still not a book cover designer. You may also need to pay fro website design, budget for advertising etc.
  3. This last requirement is the most important. You need to have a head for business. If you cannot balance your own cheque book, and terms like Reader Magnets, Return on Investment, domain names and web hosts, Profit & Loss Statements and Business Plans turn you cold, then maybe you're better off in traditional publishing where other people manage all those kinds of things. When you are your own publisher, you need to be your own business manager, accountant, and marketing guru (without neglecting your job as the business' resident author) - at least until such time as you're earning gazilions and can hire people in to do those jobs.

For me, my indie published books have yet to earn me as much as my traditionally published books. But the huge amount of satisfaction they have brought me is priceless. Along my (continuing) journey as an indie author, I have learned so much, and met some incredible people, and I am incredibly grateful for the experience. I may not have achieved gazilionaire status yet, but every single book that sells feels like a huge accomplishment because I did it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Elaine Pillay shares...'What I gained from the ROSA Conference'

It was with a heavy heart that I attended the ROSA Conference this year. Not for any other reason but that I felt as though my own book that was published was not seeing the light of day or not being read by the audience it was intended for.

Nevertheless, Romy Sommer had asked me to speak at the conference and so I attended. Boy, was I glad that I did, at the end of it.

I learnt so much from the writers who presented that day. I was in awe of the women who presented. They were so in charge of their dream and their craft. So in sync with what they were doing. At that point I almost wished one could bottle and buy that kind of energy at the conference.

Image credit: Joanne Macgregor.com
Joanne Macgregor (Author of so many books, her latest being “Rebel”) was up first and she had a lot to say. Joanne is eloquent and very matter of fact about her experiences and her job. I am an introvert by nature and as such the thought of marketing my book has always been a daunting task which would explain why my target market had never seen it. I wanted to write a book that would sell itself. That, I learnt, does not happen. Joanne talked about how, if you wanted to sell your book, then you need not take yourself so seriously. “Get over yourself,” she said, “if you want to sell your book.”
She mentioned how if one was ever serious about being a writer, then one had to have a website. That too was something that I didn’t want to do. Not sure why but possibly the introverted thing rearing its ugly head again.

I love writing and I have always believed that all one did was write in a tiny room with a beautiful view. That’s the picture I’ve always had in my head. Me writing in a small room with the view of a lake and there’s a steaming mug of coffee next to me. Quiet moments. Silent reveries. Not the website and the hustling at conferences and standing with the mic. Those things terrify me.

But now here was Joanne with her business like attitude about books and writing telling me everything I didn’t want to hear about writing. Speak. Turn up at writer events. Hustle, hustle, hustle. At the end of the talk I watched her pack up, toss her hair and walk out of the venue to have a cup of coffee.

Lord, let me be like her, I said silently.

Next up was Rae Rivers, Harper Impulse Author of “The Keepers” series. Rae is quieter but by no means less of a powerhouse. Rae woke me up in a different way. Due to my not knowing how the sales of my book were going, I refused to write. Not refused out loud but in my manner toward writing. I hadn’t written in over a year. I had many excuses why not, ‘tired’ featured most prominently, together with, ‘I need to re-decorate the study’. I avoided the study at all costs and just went in to usher the dogs out whenever they managed to wander in.

Rae spoke of the fear of writing. At first I thought good gracious me, whoever would suffer from that? But as she spoke in her quiet, convincing way, I thought of how that was applicable to me. I was afraid to write because in my mind, writing a book and getting it published wasn’t everything I had dreamed it to be. In fact, up until then, it had turned out to be the biggest waste of time. An indulgence. But Rae made a lot of sense. She related her experiences to the topic and suddenly it all made sense.

There are very few people in the world insane enough to have the illusive dream of being a writer, there are an even smaller number of us who dare to believe that we can make a living of it. And because we are so far and few very rarely do we meet to discuss the psyche of writing and therefore many times we suffer the “evils” of writing in solitary confinement.

Attending the conference was fruitful for me because two things happened: Unbeknownst to both of them, Rae diagnosed my writing illness and Joanne kicked me into action.

I took what Joanne said to heart, not because of what she said but because of how she said it. Joanne has an incredible vibe. When she speaks, she is books. She is her business and somehow, she made me believe that I was my business too.

After returning from the conference, I started up my website. As difficult as it was to do, I realised that if I hid, then my book was hidden too. I had to come out in public and show who I was and what I do. I also realised that I was the only person who could sell my book. I knew what I wrote and why I wrote it. Joanne Macgregor made me see that if I wanted to be taken seriously, then I had to be serious about what I did.

Thanks to Rae Rivers, I also started writing again. Not in front of a lake or in a newly decorated study.  Rae’s talk unblocked the sludge of excuses. Rae quietly smacked that sludge off me. My self-worth as a writer wasn’t based on the royalties I received or the accolades I got for the book. It was based on what I believed my purpose was. On what I decided my life would be about. It is and always has been that writing is who I am. It is what I was born to do.

So, should you attend the conference next year?
My question is, how can you afford not to be in a room with dynamic people who understand the insanity of your dream?

Elaine Pillay

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Carlyle Labuschagne on Branding for the Brave

Image credit: Marie Dry
At ROSACon2016, successful local YA author Carlyle Labuschagne presented a talk on Branding for the Brave.

She opened the session with an exercise, getting us all to think about our own brands: what is the end result we desire from our branding? What are our core values? Who are our role models, and why?
Only once we have a grip on who we are, and what we stand for, can we establish our author brand.

Carlyle shared some excellent advice for author branding:

  • offer value to your readers
  • Put out a clear, simple message
  • Be consistent across all media and platforms

She also shared concrete, specific tips on how to run giveaways and contests, use graphics and teasers, and how to use social media features such as Teaser Tuesday. She recommended collaborations between authors and bloggers as a great way to spread awareness of our brands.

But perhaps the most valuable piece of advice she shared was that authors must show passion for their own brands. If you are not enthusiastic and excited about your own work, and your own brand, how can you expect anyone else to be?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

#ROSACon2016: Inspiration to be an authorpreneur

Romance Writers of South Africa

Walking into a room of women with impressive writing CVs can be both intimidating and inspirational. This was my experience when I attended the second day of the ROSA Conference 2016.
From my very first moment I was astounded with the amazing sisterhood, but business-minded attitude that existed between these writers. 
Though I was there because I’m an aspiring writer, it felt like hanging out with your tribe – while still learning by being in the company of Romy Sommer, Joss Wood, Joanne MacGregor, Rae Rivers and Rebecca Crowley.
Joss Wood’s workshop gave me ideas and inspiration for all the books I haven’t written. (I mean, just being in her presence makes you create heroines for you books: Both sassy, fun, strong and kind – Joss is the heroine we aspire to write and be). Romy’s showed me where to looked for research for your book and how small details make your story seem more believable. It was also during Romy’s session that I realized how research and using all research tools makes your characters more real to yourself and how it can translate to the page.
Joanne MacGregor intimidated the living daylights out of me, but boeta, the woman inspired me to become an authorpreneur.
To be a writer is viewed as a creative process. You are an artist who creates a world out of twenty six letters. But the writers at the ROSACon 2016 showed me they are also business women.
In the words of Joanne MacGregor: “If you want to be a traditional torture writer selling no copies, then write in that dark corner. But if you want to be selling author, you have to hustle!”
And hustle I shall!
This rang true to me because writers of romance have to juggle a lot of different roles, while receiving a huge amount of disrespect from the literary community. Yes, these writers create a great product, but they are also the marketers, their own CEO’s and their own financial managers. All the while working other jobs - and the proof is in the sales, because romance sells!   
Rae Rivers’s talk about fear, was especially touching and it’s a workshop every writer should attend, because the fear of failure is universal. To control your fear is a great accomplishment and Rae gave easy, useful guidelines on how to turn your fear-enemy into a trusted ally.  
I walked out of ROSACon 2016 wishing it was a week long and feeling inspired, but more than that my whole perception of writing changed.

Cliffordene was also the winner of the Three's Company writing conference contest this year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rae Rivers talks about Facing the Fear

Image credit: wikipedia

Rae Rivers signed a contract with Harper Collins, a 4 book deal to be carried out over a 3 year period – a formidable task for any writer.  She suffered severe anxiety and fear of failing, of letting herself down and failing her editor and her readers.  The intense anxiety led her to suffer from the dread disease of writer’s block which served to intensify an already negative situation.

She asked the question:  “How do we combat fear?”  And promptly answered it by stating that we should never INVALIDATE or DISMISS our fears.  Rather EMBRACE them and NAME them.  Rather than fall into self pity and despise herself, she started to define her fears.  In this way she came to create a character called Gru, an old grey man with a sad and lugubrious expression on his face, wearing an old- fashioned grey large-checked suit.  He was the embodiment of her fears – a kind of comic character she showed in her video presentation, shaped like an inverted triangle with broad shoulders narrowing down to the tip of ‘V’ of his small shoes.     

Image credit: raerivers.com

Gru represented her fears but also helped and advised her how to come to terms with them.  She could discuss her problems with him without pretence since he knew her weaknesses.  He became a kind a sounding board for all fears and anxieties in her life, not only those relating to her writing and she could discuss these with him as he accompanied her in the car where she knew they were safe with safety belts and air bags (as she pointed out to Gru).

As a ‘hands on’ student of Jung psychology, I could identify with the character of Gru who was really a creation of “Active Imagination”, namely a spontaneous image of Rae’s fears which she created to help her in a dialogue of discussion and resolution.  Significantly he was male, an embodiment of Jung’s concept of the animus as the masculine element in feminine psychology, just as the anima is the feminine aspect of the male psyche and leads him to creativity.

Rae Rivers

 ACCEPT, IDENTIFY and ACKNOWLEDGE!   Those were the keynote words of Rae’s address with regard to “Facing the Fear”.
Feel free to take a look at Susan Dennard’s website www.susandennard.com

Words by Dr Pamela Heller-Stern who attended ROSACon16



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reflecting the world we live in — Diversity in romance writing

Thoughts by Anthony Ehlers...

At RosaCon16, we wrapped up the weekend with a panel discussion on Diversity in Romance, with panelists Fiona Khan, Elaine Pillay, and myself, Anthony Ehlers. The session, moderated by Rebecca Crowley, was to be a brutally honest analysis of this often overlooked issue in the romance genre.

In the US, for example, we see a growing market and readership, one that reflects a multicultural demographic. Gay marriage and equality has also brought a new focus on same-sex relationships.  In India, we see a massively growing readership, and Fiona gave the popular Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi as just one example.

Here in South Africa, our democracy has brought about an exciting melting pot of race, culture, and is seen by many as a cosmopolitan and international setting by many. We have an opportunity as South Africans, and those that have made South Africa their home, to write our unique and fascinating love stories – whether they’re historical, contemporary, or futuristic.

So where are the stories – and authors – that showcase this diversity?

There are barriers to crossing the diversity divide, from a lack of empowering writers and fostering new talent to not enough platforms for emerging writers. Often cost is a barrier to entry – as emerging or new markets don’t have the same income as established demographics.

However, editors, agents, and publishers are waking up to the need for a more diverse romance genre. It has become a commercial imperative to change the way they look at love stories in a rapidly changing world – otherwise their books won’t keep pace with their readership. Readers want to see themselves reflected in the stories they read – whether it’s a reflection of race, sexuality, culture or even just a setting they know as home.
As writers who are passionate about writing love stories, we must look beyond the entrenched archetypes of the past and find ways to show the world we live in right now – and reflect the diversity we see in our communities, our families, the workplace, and our friends.  Be aware and open to the possibilities of characters and stories that shake up the status quo and rattle our complacency. Write about what excites us, yes, but also what challenges us.

Here are some useful links to other sites on diversity

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#WriterTip Crafting and Creating Conflict in your Romance Novel

Romance Writers Organisation of SA

Erica Taylor, one of our ROSA members who attended #ROSACon16 and a session by Joss Wood on Conflict, has kindly shared her thoughts on the talk and what she learned.

What struck me most about Joss’ lecture on conflict was how much it made sense. It is probably something that we all do subconsciously without even realizing it, or having a literary definition attached to it, but having it defined made me more aware that it was another tool I had in my storytelling arsenal.  Joss tells us the way to tell a good story is make your characters go through crap—people don’t want smooth sailing and enduring love from the get-go. Readers want to be tortured with the characters, to hang on to the belief that love will conquer all, and to ride the happily-ever-after high into the tediousness of real life.

Using excerpts from one of her own novels, The Honeymoon Arrangement, Joss toured the lecture through the process of setting up conflict and using it as a tool to move the story along. 

Characters should have a “misguided external goal based on an internal goal,” or what the character thinks they want (point A) versus what that actually need (point B. Throughout the story, your characters will work through the conflicts you put in their path, getting them from point A to point B. 

Characters start off as silly little things thinking they know everything in their perfect little worlds and they have everything figured out. Ha! Little did they know the author of their story is about to shake up their world and they will be better for it, and their author will torture them until they come to realize, the author was right all along.

Joss explained there are two types of conflict: External conflict is the stuff happening around your characters. Internal conflict is the stuff happening inside the characters mind, their thoughts and worries and whatnot. And each character is different—whatever he/she wants must be specific to him or her.

“If your hero is a firefighter, your heroine better be an arsonist.” - Joss Wood

Three types of External Conflict:
  • Character vs. character (When opposite personalities attract—and clash)
  • Character vs. nature (When a hero faces an earthquake)
  • Character vs. Society (When a Lord falls in love with a maid)

Ways to up the conflict:
  • Use the characters fears again them.
  • Concoct the worst thing that could happen to them, then torture them with it.
  • Dig deep. Look back to their childhood—an author is part storyteller, part psychiatrist.
  • Find that thing that sends them off the deep end, and use it!

An example from Joss’ novel The Honeymoon Arrangement:
Internal: What are their deepest wounds and what scares them the most?
The heroine has deep rooted issues with her estranged mother.
External: Make that thing happen>>>>Mom calls her on the phone and sends the heroine spiraling into self-destruct mode.

What was most interesting about what Joss’ lecture, was how natural it seemed. Even in our everyday lives things pop-up that question our internal resolve. Challenges arise, things happen and the external conflicts we deal with each day have shaped who we are and dictate our internal conflicts. Readers read romance as a means of escape, searching for a trace of hope that no matter what happens in our lives, there is someone who will love us for who we are. As writers, we achieve the same escapism when we create this insurmountable problems for our characters and find a way to achieve their happily-ever-afters. 

We need to believe in the power of love just as much as the reader. We need to believe that no matter what life throws at us, everything will be okay. Writing conflict into your story not only moves the narrative along in a tangible, believable way, it adds a sense of realism to the story. Readers will relate to a flawed character, one who harbors secrets and refrains from letting their crazy hang out for the world to see, and when there is someone who can overlook their flaws, we want to hang on to that person even tighter. We root for someone to overcome the mundane conflicts in their life, because we all need to believe we can do it too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Tipping Point: Creating Sensual Tension in Scenes

Fellow ROSA member Anthony Ehlers shared some useful tips for creating sensual tension in scenes at ROSACon 2016. Here's what he had to say.

"In my workshop on writing scenes at ROSACon 2016, I spoke about the need to build sensual and emotional tension in each scene. This is probably the real reason readers come to romance novels – whether they’re erotic or sweet, modern or historical. That’s why it’s so important to keep the reader in mind when you’re writing a scene."

Top Tips for Creating Sensual Tension
  • ·        Don’t bog the scene down in plot – give just enough to keep the story going.
  • ·   Focus on the developing relationship between the characters – play on their fears, vulnerabilities, etc.
  • ·        Use as many of the senses as possible – touch, taste, smell, sound, sight.
  • ·       Sometimes you don’t need a lot of dialogue – wordless tension and a sense of mystery can work well.
  • ·      And most of all, slow down: don’t hurry the scene and you’ll keep the tension drawn out.

 A lesson from the pro's

image credit: abebooks.co.uk
Anthony says, "One my favourite Mills & Boon titles, the classic 70s Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather, makes imaginative use of the timeless Beauty & the Beast theme. Helen, our heroine, is trapped by a snow storm at the country retreat of Dominic, a racing car driver the world believes has died in a crash. And because she knows his identity, he forbids her to leave!

In one of the most memorable scenes, Helen sneaks down into the basement of the house where a naked Dominic lies prone in a sauna room. He is expecting his manservant, Bolt, to administer his afternoon massage to his damaged body – instead Helen creeps in and starts to touch him. The tension here is off the charts. Will he discover it’s not Bolt? How will react to Helen seeing his vulnerable body? 
image credit: goodreads.com

In Jane Porter’s awesome Modern/Presents title, Christos’s Promise, Alysia has been secluded in a convent and is rescued by wealthy Greek magnate, Christos. Theirs will not be a marriage of convenience, he declares, and while he will never force her into intimacy, they will share a bed.

On their honeymoon yacht, Alysia lies awake while her new husband slips into bed beside her. As he falls asleep, he cradles her and becomes aroused. The tension between the natural state of sleep of Christos and the hyper-awareness of his bride make this one of the most breath-stealing scenes in romance fiction – even 15 years after reading it!"

What are some of the amazingly sensual tension scenes you’ve read or written?

image credit: bookslive.com
Anthony Ehlers is a writer, scriptwriter and creative writing teacher. In 2014, his scripts were shortlisted for the Jameson First Shot competition, as well as the European Independent Film Festival. In 2010, his story “Limerence” was a runner-up in the annual Woman & Home short story competition. He is one of only two authors to appear in the first two Short.Sharp.Stories collections. His story Breaking the Rules was published in the Adults Only collection in 2014.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Joy of Comfort Eating by Suzanne Jefferies scoops Imbali Award at ROSACon 2016

Suzanne Jefferies wins Romance Writers of South Africa's Imbali Award 2016
Suzanne Jefferies with her Imbali Award for her book The Joy of Comfort Eating

Anthony Ehlers chatted to Suzanne shortly after she won ROSA's Imbali Writing Competition. Her entry The Joy of Comfort Eating swooped the trophy at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg 17 September 2016. Joanne Mcgregor with her book Scarred was the runner up.

Congratulations on your win! Your novel, The Joy of Comfort Eating, scooped the first-ever Imabli Award at ROSACon 2016.  Describe the experience in five words.

SJ: “High-fives all round. Yeah.”

At your book launch last week, you mentioned that Joy was part of a trilogy? Can you tell us a bit about that?

SJ “The Joy trilogy focuses on three contemporary Jo’burg heroines – each one sassy and fabulous, but totally useless when it comes to love. The next in the series focuses on Charlie’s sister Madge.”

We love that your heroine, Charlie Everson, is so sassy and so real. How important is it to have a character readers can relate to, especially from a South African point of view?

SJ: “Readers want to be able to identify with the heroine. We all want some version of happy-ever-after, and we want to feel that if she could climb Everest/land that multinational deal/bring that billionaire playboy to his knees, then so could we. For South Africans, I love reading something that’s set somewhere I can actually visit without having to dust off my passport.”

Your novel explores the trope of ‘shared pasts’ in that Brian ‘Bad Ass’ Tendai was Charlie’s teen crush and first love. Did you have any embarrassing celeb teen crushes you can admit to?

SJ: “Timothy Dalton. Age thirteen, we had to watch the BBC version of Jane Eyre, and he was Rochester in all of his vain, proud glory. That voice, those eyes, that dimple in his chin. Drool. Drool. I’d have watched Penny Dreadful a whole lot sooner if someone had mentioned he was in it.”

Charlie works in media, PR, and communications – much like you. What other characteristics does she share with you?

SJ: “Indecent love of cake. That stuff is legalised crack!”

What gets you through a writing day? Any set rituals?

SJ: “Switching on the laptop is usually a good start. Good cup of tea. Radio on in the background.”

In closing, what do you think the Imbali Award means for the broader SA romance writing community?

SJ: “A wonderful opportunity to be acknowledged and recognised for your writing by the community. I hope it encourages more people to enter, and more importantly, more people to write romance.”

Suzanne's book The Joy of Comfort Eating is published by Fire Quill Publishing (currently open for submissions at the time of this post) and is available on Amazon here  ($3.99 for the kindle edition).

If you are a romance writer looking for a sense of community, why not become a member of ROSA? Click here 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Africa's first RWA Rita® Nominee

Congratulations to ROSA Chairperson Romy Sommer for becoming the first ever South African (and first ever romance writer resident in Africa) to be nominated for the RWA's prestigious Rita® award. 

Romy, author of four contemporary romance novels published by HarperCollins as well as four self-published historical novellas, has been nominated for a 2016 RWA Rita® Award in the Mid-Length Contemporary Category for her latest novel, Not a Fairy Tale.

Run by Romance Writers of America® (RWA) for over thirty years, this contest is the highest award of distinction in romance fiction internationally, the 'Oscars' of romance writing. Past winners include bestselling authors Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Barbara Freethy.

Up to 2,000 novels are entered annually into 12 categories. This year’s winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony on July 16 at the RWA’s Annual Conference in San Diego, California. 

Not a Fairy Tale is a Hollywood romance, featuring a brawny stuntman hero and the career-driven actress who hires him to train her for the role of a lifetime. Building on Romy’s experience in the film industry, this light-hearted novel has been described as “enchanting sizzling, adult fairy tale.”

For more information on Romy Sommer and her books, visit her website at www.romysommer.com.

Monday, April 25, 2016

3 weeks left to enter ROSA's first Imbali Award contest

We at ROSA are delighted to announce the launch of the Imbali Award, an award that recognises and rewards excellence in romance writing. Imbali is the Zulu word for flower, reflecting ROSA's floral acronym and logo, as well its African origins.

A first in Africa, the award is open to all African romance authors who have published a romance novel between July 2014 and December 2015.

In this first year of the contest, the Award will be limited to fifteen entries only, and entries close on Friday 13 May.

The entries will be judged by a panel of book bloggers and reviewers, including Lu-Marie Fraser of the Sugar and Snark book blog, blogger and editor Lia Marus, Laurynne Gouws of romance book blog Book Review Bay, and blogger & reviewer Nandita Baard.

The winner will be announced at the gala dinner of ROSA's third annual Romance Writing conference to be held in Johannesburg on 24th September 2016.

Details of the contest as well as entry forms can be found on the ROSA website www.romancewriters.co.za.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gina Rossi reports back on London Book Fair 2016

After the Fair: Gina Rossi reflects on her first visit to the London Book Fair, 2016

At the Quantum 16 Conference, the launch pad of the London Book Fair held the day before the opening, Baroness Gail Rebuck, D.B.E., and Chair of Penguin Random House UK, reminds those present that it is still stories and the people who write them that underpins absolutely everything in the publishing industry. With this in mind, I step into the vast main hall at Kensington Olympia, on Tuesday 12th April 2016, ready for my first book fair ever, and pause to marvel.

Do I speak for all writers when I say we rarely have an opportunity to feel special? We spend stacks of time doubting our ability. It’s our job to worry, to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Yet here I am, surrounded by – literally – millions of books, trillions of words, each and every one written by a successful author. How inspiring is that? Right now, I feel special.

Onward, and this is what it must be like for a bee inside a hive. Everyone’s working, or walking with purpose. A few, like me, are standing alone, gawking. All around, rising to the lofty iron girders of the exhibition hall, the steady hum of thousands of earnest voices pitching, presenting, selling and promoting. Ridiculous as it sounds, there are books everywhere – on tables, shelves, racks and counters. Everywhere.

Jeffrey Archer
First things first. Within the massive hive, I make a beeline for Author HQ, except I don’t. It’s not that easy. Even with the handy floorplan I get lost, and wander, happily distracted by the surroundings. There’s no logic to the layout that I can see; it’s not like children’s book publishers are together in one area, with cookery books somewhere else. What a feast for the eyes! Here’s a publisher of colouring-in books, including the fabulous ones created by Millie Marotta, and there’s a place you can take a hologram selfie with the Bard himself, while over at FCM Media there’s a book being written ‘live’, contributions welcome. As for the English Pen Salon, you could sit there all day listening to short talks by Jeffrey Archer, Marian Keyes, Jeanette Winterson, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes… I could go on.

Author HQ
A quirk of fate (read ‘eavesdropping in the loo’) leads me to Author HQ, where I meet best-selling author and writing colleague, Louise Rose-Innes. There she is, smiling, calm, and elegant – the personification of a tall glass of cool water in the hot hurly-burly of the crowd. I’ve known Louise online for several years but this is the first time we’ve met, and it’s an absolute highlight. Immediately, I feel like I’m connecting with a good friend.

Louise Rose-Innes and Gina Rossi

We talk about everything: the fair, ROSA (www.romancewriters.co.za – we’re both members), Louise’s brand new release A Passion So Wild, London, South Africa, Romance Writers of America (www.rwa.org), family, children, education, success and failure, The Wild Rose Press (www.wildrosepublishing.com), editing, publishers and publishing, book covers, writing, writing and writing. We finally said goodbye after a visit to the Kindle Direct Publishing stand where we popped in to a warm welcome by Darren who answered questions and gave advice freely.
“Never forget,” he said, “that there are only two people in this business of publishing: the writer and the reader.”

That said, day over, heads full of advice, ideas and inspiration, Louise and I parted company, and went home to write. Will I go to the London Book Fair next year? Absolutely yes!
Who’s coming with me?

A random summing up, and notes to self for 2017:
  1. Author HQ had a range of writing and publishing gems to offer (the newbie writer in particular), by way of lectures and panel discussions. It’s a great place to start.
  2. Each day, Twitter was positively red-hot with latest publishing news, invitations, screenings, readings, book launches, signings, and plenty more. Keep an eye on that and adapt your visit accordingly (if you’ve got a bit of time right now, take a break and enjoy all the highlights here: http://twitter.com/LondonBookFair - go back to 11th April, at least).
  3. It was warm in there. The sun came out, beating through the massive glass barrel roof, turning the venue into a hothouse (it was built in 1886 as an agricultural hall). Wear thin layers, and keep taking them off. 
  4. I didn’t get sore feet, I realised the day after. I got sore everything! My step-counting app registered 14052 steps on day one. Be prepared.
  5. Seating was sometimes limited. Louise and I discussed taking along a golf stick next time, or a folding stool! There were no huge queues at the loos as some would lead you to believe, at least not when I went. Likewise, no unreasonable queues for food / drinks.
  6. Don’t listen to those who say you can’t pitch to an agent or publisher at the LBF. You can, to some, but you need to approach them well in advance. So: 
    1. - Select the agents / publishers you wish to approach.
      - Send a polite email asking whether they'll be exhibiting and whether or not they'll be taking pitches.
      - If they are, make appointments and be super punctual come the day.
      - Take along exactly what they request.

    Finally: Smile. Connect and communicate. Feed off the energy and enthusiasm of the event. Take in as much as you can. Be inspired. Go home and write. Feel special.

    More information on Gina Rossi and Louise Rose Innes can be found at http://ginaginarossi.wix.com/gina-rossi-website and http://louiseroseinnes.co.uk/

    Panel discussion at Author HQ

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Before the Fair: Gina Rossi visits the London Book Fair for the first time next week.

Today's guest post comes from ROSA author Gina Rossi:

Springtime in London means the London Book Fair’s right around the corner. I’ve never been, but a few months ago, I found ‘early bird’ tickets online for the LBF 2016, and immediately bought one. Seconds later I wondered why. Why would a writer go to a trade fair focussed on the publishing industry? Is there a place for authors, too?

I began to ask fellow writers for their views − and did some of my own research on the LBF’s own, great website – asking the question “Why do you go to the LBF, and what advice would you give a first-timer, like me?”

Here are the answers:

“Wear comfortable shoes!” – Lizzie Lamb, author of Scotch on the Rocks (you won’t believe how many people dished out this bit of advice, so take heed).

“Make appointments. Don't simply turn up and expect publishers to stop and chat. They will have paid thousands for their stands and are there to do business. So, contact them early to set up meetings. And, check the online exhibition guide and plot your route around the fair before you arrive. Catalogues are heavy! Browse them at the fair then read them online when you get home. Avoid queues for coffee - pack a flask and a sandwich instead.” − Jan Ellis, author of French Kisses.

“Network. Connect. Make friends. Interact. Have fun!” − Linda Nightingale, author of Love for Sale.

“I’m going to LBF 2016 because immersing myself in the publishing world inspires and helps me become more creative and determined to succeed. If others can do it, so can I. Also, there’s the Author Club which I think will be good for networking. I’m also looking forward to meeting authors who I’ve corresponded with on social media but never met face to face.” – Louise Innes, author of A Passion So Wild

“Don’t be scared. If you’re a first-timer like I was, it can be very daunting, especially when you don’t know the make-up of the industry. But take your time, get a feel for the place, attend seminars, speak to people. You’ll soon find your way.” − Dan Jeffries, Author.

“Take water, a notebook, business cards, mints, a snack and some lip balm, and don’t be afraid to talk to people – we’re all here for very similar reasons.” − Marta Dziurosz, Translator in Residence, Free Word

“Make a plan of what you want to go to, get orientated around the large venue early in the day and I’d recommend signing up for the opportunities at Author HQ.” − Catherine Miller, Writer.

“It’s like Glastonbury – your feet hurt, and you need stamina but it’s a pretty inspiring place to be.” − Harriet Williams, Project Assistant, London Book Fair 2015

“Stick with me, if it’s all a bit bewildering or we get lost, there’s always a gin to be found somewhere…” − Amanda Prowse, Writer

“Prepare, prepare, prepare. Book your meetings in advance and enjoy the event. Whether it’s a new title you’re seeking or just advice and information on the world of publishing, it’s a must attend event.” − Asif Bashir, Director and Founder of Unique Inspiration

“Try to prepare your visit in advance. Make sure you allocated enough time to attend several professional sessions. Visit the digital zone to discover new technology companies, trends and what is coming next. Stroll down the aisles with an open mind and a smile in your face. Attend as many cocktails and parties as you can to meet and network with interesting people from all around the globe.” − Javier Celaya, CEO of Dosdoce.com.

“Just keep walking, keep smiling and keep kissing passing cheeks if they are proffered.” – Jo Glanville, Author and Ghostwriter

“The Fair runs Tuesday to Thursday: book leave for the Friday.” − Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association

“Work hard, play hard, wear comfy shoes and talk to everyone and anyone – you never know who you might meet in the queue for the loo!” − Emma House, runs PA groups across all areas of publishing

“Pace yourself!” − Jane Tappuni, EVP of Business Development

“Jump in, the water’s warm. Everyone at events is there to do business and come out with more than they went in with so don’t be shy. Throw caution to the wind and your inhibitions and go meet people. You might surprise yourself.” – Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder of Zappar.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, go to ALL of the free events, set yourself some goals and again, hustle hard.” − Sam Missingham, Head of Events at HarperCollins

“Considering this was my first time, and that I’ve been in the industry since about January, I’m maybe not the best person to ask for advice. But I would say, chat to everybody. There’s no one who I met at LBF who wasn’t really lovely and kind. Everyone seems to completely understand how hard it is to get into the industry – after all they’ve all done it already! They’re very supportive. So, if it’s your first time, I guess my advice would be not to be afraid. You’re really welcome there, even if you’re a total newbie to the industry like I was!” - Jasmin Kirkbride, Publishing newbie and writer (2014)

“Avoid the drinks receptions before 5pm.” − Alison Hubert, International Director of Book Aid International

“There is so much….Crussh (in Academic on the right hand side of EC1 and Publishing Solutions in EC2) sell the most delicious smoothies, and superfood salads, which are the perfect pick me up from the long days and nights of LBF. Don’t wear new shoes – give yourself at least 2 months to break them in or (for the ladies) bring ballet flats in your hand bag. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The show is large and there is a lot going on which can be daunting if you have not been before, there are many veterans of LBF on the organising team, and there are no stupid questions. We were all first timers.” − Jennifer Booth, LBF Operations Manager

“Wear very comfortable shoes. Arrange lunch in advance. Try to see people you love to see who you cannot often see. Meetings are valuable as much to keep up favourite relationships as to pitch your books actively. Try to get to the V&A while in town!” − Gail Hochman, American literary agent, Brandt & Hochmann Literary Agents, Inc.

“Be on time for appointments.” − Maggie Hanbury, The Hanbury Agency.

“Do check out the remarkably comprehensive seminar programme and plan your day. It does not have to be a random yomp!” − David Roche, Owner/Director David Roche Enterprises Ltd, & non-exec Chairman of The London Book Fair Advisory Board 2013.

“Talk to as many people as possible. Explore every corner. Seize every opportunity.” – Bryony Woods, DKW Literary Agency.

So, I’m ready – and inspired. I can’t wait!

Please look out for my next article, ‘After the Fair’, right here on the ROSA blog. Thank you ROSA for hosting me today. And thanks so much to all the super authors, members of the publishing fraternity, and the London Book Fair 2016 itself, for quotes and contributions to this article.

See you there,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Seeing Place

Happy Valentine's Day ROSA writers! My first book for Ankara Press comes out today - "a different kind of romance" - check them out, they're a great publishing team and it's been a blast. I met some of you at the conference in Stellenbosch last year (Jana van Niekerk). Best wishes!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Making our annual conference even better!

ROSA is currently running a survey in an effort to make our conference experience even better. We'd be very grateful if you would participate. You don't need to have attended any of our previous conferences in order to take part.

Survey link: https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/0250d29