Tag Archives: Romance Writers of Australia

Tips from an Industry Insider

My most recent column for the RWA is available on their blog today. I’m discussing the bane of every writer’s life, everyday marketing.

Yes, I can hear the groans across the interwebs. For most authors, marketing is a grudge job, as bad, or worse, than having to mop the floor (my personal bugbear). And what is it about dishes and laundry that ensure the sink and the clothes basket are never empty? You finish one round and have to start on the next. It’s the same with Instagram, newsletters and other forms of everyday marketing. 

Are you reaching for the wine yet?

Comparing everyday marketing to household chores might seem like a bad idea, dropping it into the hated I-don’t-have-time-for-this jobs’ jar. But it is realistic in that it is SOMETHING THAT HAS TO BE DONE, regularly if not every day. Even if you are lucky enough to have an assistant to pass it off to, it still has to be done.

You can read the rest of the article here:

Wordsmith Wednesday

Highlighting wonderful women writers 

Today I’m talking to Leisl Leighton, author of paranormal and romantic suspense novels. Her eighth book, Climbing Fear, a romantic suspense, is out now.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

The most significant one was Anne of Green Gables. I’d read many books before this that I loved – Nancy Drew, Black Beauty, The Hobbit, Little Women, Milly Molly Mandy and so on – but Anne was the first person like me that I ever saw in a book. There’d been elements of other characters in other books I read that were like me, but Anne almost seemed like she was me. Her story felt real and personal and I’ve read it – and all the other books in the series – over and over again. It was also super special because my Nanna gave these books to me because she’d read them when she was the same age as me and loved them because they spoke to her little red-headed heart as well.

What’s your favourite place to write?

Anywhere. I don’t have a favourite place because I write wherever I can. I do have a lovely desk set up at home with a view of the elm tree in our front yard, but it’s too cold in there at this time of the year. I write in my armchair with the dogs and cats lying around me, which is lovely.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

Keep going. Don’t think all advice is the advice for you, but still listen and think about it and every book is a new beginning – enjoy the ride.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I talk with my writing friends and workshop the problems. They always help – and not because they necessarily come up with the answers, but because they help me to rethink it and figure out what the problem is and come up with a solution. Normally I knew what it was, but just need to say it out loud and have their affirmation and confirmation to help me take that step.

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

I love the Emily Larkin Baleful Godmother series. Also, anything by Nalini Singh – I just love her paranormal books.

What was the inspiration behind Climbing Fear?

My love of horses, my experiences on horse riding camps when I was younger, my husband proposing to me on horseback, and a trip to Walhalla years ago all came together in my head and created the story that became Climbing Fear. I’m not sure why the suspense element, other than the mountains and hills always seem so mysterious and ripe to be the setting for a suspense story.

Tell us about your Climbing Fear.

A Coalcliff Stud novel—His beloved home is under threat, and with it the beautiful, haunted woman he’s never been able to forget …

X-Treme TV sports star Reid Stratton has everything—until his best friend falls to his death on a climb while shooting their show. In the fierce media fallout, Reid begins to question everything about himself. Crippled by a new fear of climbing, Reid returns to CoalCliff Stud, his family’s horse farm, to recover.

Single mother Natalia Robinson is determined to start afresh, away from the shadow of her past. A job at CoalCliff Stud where she lived as a child is the perfect opportunity to live the quiet life she always wanted. But she is unprepared to see Reid, and is even more unprepared for the passion that still burns between them.

But after a series of menacing events threaten the new home she is trying to build, Nat realises that Reid is the only person she can rely on to keep her and her daughter safe. Together, Reid and Nat must face the pasts that haunt them if they are to survive the present and forge a future of hope.

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

‘Right. Here goes nothing.’ Or something. Reid really hoped it was something.

He dipped his hands into his chalk bag, wiping the chalk over them, shaking off the excess then stepped up to the rock face and took a deep breath. His lungs filled with the scent of dirt and lichen and the sharp scents of the eucalypts that gave the Blue Mountains their moniker. In the distance a bird cawed, the sound echoing and lonely. He couldn’t take any notice, must concentrate on the wall of rock before him.

Heart pounding, he rolled his shoulders and tried to ignore the perspiration trickling down his forehead, his back. His palms itched. This was the moment of truth. His moment of truth.

He should probably have got Steve and the production crew involved in this climb, to capture his big comeback for posterity—and the ratings it would undoubtedly bring—but he’d wanted to do this in private. It seemed right somehow that his first climb after the accident wasn’t in front of the cameras. The first time ever he hadn’t wanted to show off for the world. He could just imagine what Luke would have said about that.

But then, Luke couldn’t say anything. He was dead.

He shuddered, a cold sweat prickling his skin. Don’t think of that. Think of the climb. Only the climb.

Only the climb. It had been their mantra and had served him well through championships and their TV show, but now the words hung empty.

Race you to the top. The echo of Luke’s voice rang in his ears. He shook his head and looked up at the wall of rock in front of him. He’d done this climb at Echo Point many times before, the view from the top of the famous sandstone plateau one you could breathe into your soul and keep with you forever.

The line he’d chosen wasn’t a difficult climb—bloody easy compared to what he’d done before—but a good solid one to cut his teeth on. What he and Luke had become famous for. And if he was to get their TV show up and going again, do the charity climb in Luke’s name that he and Steve planned on the soaring pristine lines of the Gorge at Mt Buffalo—Luke’s favourite place to climb and the first place they’d ever filmed themselves climbing to post online—he needed to do this.

‘Right.’ He clapped his hands together, chalk blooming up, making his nose twitch. ‘One grip at a time.’ He stepped to the rock face, reached, took the first hold, fingers gripping over the small ridge of rock and pulled up. He settled his feet into grooves in the striations of the sandstone—only five reach holds, none of them difficult, before he would position the first cam to clip the lead rope to. He would normally free climb this section, but nerves had him needing to anchor the rope. It was a bit of a stupid thing to do without a partner, but given what happened the last time he climbed with one …

He swallowed hard. He’d checked his rope, the cams and carabiners a hundred times before getting here and again once here. They were safe. Nothing would break. He was good. He needed this. He reached for the next hold, gripped, found a foot hold, pushed up grabbed the next grip. Easy. There was no reason for his heart to be a thunder of hooves in his chest. For his breath to be coming in short-sharp gasps, razoring his throat, as if he’d just run the London Marathon. No reason for sweat to be dripping off him. Or for the ghost pain to be driving through his shoulder like an ice spike. His shoulder was healed and aside from the pull of the scar tissue, it shouldn’t be hurting. It was strong. He’d worked hard to make it strong again. Why else had he done that if not to get back to this?

Push through, Stratton. Eye on the prize. Think of the climb. We can do this.

He blinked the sweat out of his eyes, rubbing his face against his shoulder before he pushed up for the next grip. Two more and he’d reach the fissure he could push the cam into and create his anchor.

He settled his toes firmly in the thin ridge of rock, feeling the dig of the sharp stone through his thin, flexible rock climbing shoes, before reaching up again. His fingers found purchase on a little jut of weathered stone. He pulled up.

Rock crumbled through his fingers. He began to slip. He made a desperate grab for a nearby small ridge in the rock, but his foot slipped. For a moment, he hung, scrabbling at the rock, trying to find the holds he’d found before, but it was as if the rock face had become a sheet of marble, slippery and smooth. He could find nothing. Nothing. His shoulder was screaming, the pain spiking through him. His fingers were slipping. He couldn’t hold on. He was going to fall. Going to fall.

Buy links

iTunes

Amazon Aus

Amazon US

Kobo

Google Play

Where can readers find you online?

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, or to connect with me online, you can visit my webpage www.leislleighton.com, follow me on twitter @LeislLeighton https://twitter.com/LeislLeighton, or like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Leisl-Leighton-Author-367381126695193.

Leisl Leighton Author Bio

Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).

After starting a family Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.

Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dogs, Buffy and Skye, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, and her shelves are full of fantasy and paranormal books and scifi DVDs. She sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski, can talk the hind leg off a donkey and has been President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017.

My other books are: Dangerous Echoes: Book 1 of the Echo Springs Series. Or if you like your suspense mixed with the paranormal, then you should try my four book Pack Bound series: Pack Bound, Moon Bound, Shifter Bound and Wolf Bound—available now.

Buy Links for Dangerous Echoes:

iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, Amazon AU

Or you can buy the four book series, Echo Springs, in paperback at Big W, Kmart and online at Angus&Robertson, Booktopia, The Nile, Boomerang Books, Dymocks

Buy Links for the Pack Bound Series:

Amazon Here, iBooks Here, Google Play Here, Kobo Here

 

Getting a manuscript ready for submission

In the not to distant future, my romance novel will be published. This is the first in a series of blog posts about my path to publication. I hope it is inspiring and helpful to other aspiring writers out there.

I’ve wanted to write a novel worthy of readers’ delight since I first went to university, saw creative writing on the course list, and realised that real people wrote books. Maybe, just maybe, I could be one of them.

I struggled on my own for years before I found my tribe at the Romance Writers of Australia. With the support and guidance of various members, I’ve made steady progress. I finalled in one competition, learnt from others, and eventually finished my first manuscript. It placed second in the Emerald Award for unpublished manuscripts. I was thrilled but still plagued by doubts. The praise received was consistent; readers liked the setting, my heroine and the dialogue. The criticism coming back was also consistent – my hero was hard to know. Although I spoke to a few publishers, I never submitted, choosing to rework it instead. I say ‘choosing to rework’ and that’s partly true. Part of me was also retreating. If I wasn’t good enough to win, was I really good enough to publish? Would I make a fool of myself submitting it to publishers? Fear of failure can be crippling. It can also be a strangely comforting bedfellow, one which makes sure you never move out of my comfort zone.

But … I really wanted to be a published novelist. I wanted it more than I feared failure and humiliation. So I set myself a goal. By the next year’s conference I would be ready to pitch my revised and improved romance to publishers. I added 30,000 words to the story and thought about the story a lot, what worked, what didn’t. I also thought about what I would do if no one wanted it. I could self-publish. However, I really wanted to take my first steps in publishing with someone more experienced holding my hand. I wanted the support and the learning curve an author gets when working with an experienced editor and publisher. I’ve worked in the industry for years, so I know how valuable that experience can be.

When the annual RWA conference came around again in 2017, I was ready and prepared to face the threat of rejection again. I’d changed my title from the sweet-sounding Alpine Kisses to the sassier The Millionaire Mountain Climber. I put in my pitch request for the speed dating sessions with editors and agents. As a backup, I also made myself a list of romance publishers who accepted submissions direct from authors. I composed the list from the names of publishers who have attended RWA over the years as well as those who publish the books I like to read. I went online to their submission pages and copied their requirements. If the pitches didn’t go well, I had a plan B.

The pitches went okay. One agent was, frankly, rude, but said I could submit anyway. I did so, but didn’t hold my breath. Just as well because neither I, nor anyone else who pitched, ever heard back from her. One publisher was delightful and enthusiastic, and I submitted with some confidence. Another publisher said I didn’t fit their criteria, so that was a no.

However, with only one genuine show of interest, I didn’t like my odds. A month after conference, I hauled out Plan B and submitted to another ten publishers and one agent. It took time. Each one had different submission criteria. Some requested only the first five pages. Some wanted the first three chapters. Some wanted the whole manuscript. Everybody wanted a synopsis and to know a little about me, but not a one of them matched another. Each submission was unique. Some of the publishers I targeted were Australian; others English and American. I changed spelling according to the submission. While I didn’t get it all right, I reckoned it was respectful to at least make the effort. Those submissions took me another month, to the end of October 2017. I meant to submit to more agents, but decided to first see what came of round one. I also decided that if I didn’t get interest from anyone by end February, I would self-publish. I felt my story had legs now.

Next time: The call … make that the email.

Getting a foot in the door: agent or publisher?

In my most recent Tips from an Industry Insider blog post for RWAustralia, I review options for getting started in the industry. Once you have a book, should you chase an agent or a publisher … or self publish?

Traditionally, an author needed an agent to get a publisher. This has changed with the rise of digital-only or digital-first publishers and imprints. An imprint is a division of publishing house, for example, Escape is Harlequin Australia’s digital-only imprint whereas titles published under their Mira imprint appear in both paperback and ebook. Many publishers now accept submissions direct from authors.

 

It takes just as much time, research and preparation to approach either an agent or a publisher:

  • Start with shelf research in a bookshop or on your ebook reader.
  • Look on the imprint page to find out who the publisher is.
  • Visit their website and read their submission guidelines.
  • Read the acknowledgements page. Many authors thank their editors, publishers and agents in the acknowledgements.
  • Follow the submission process. Make every submission individual. You can approach more than one publisher or agent at a time, but don’t email them together. Nothing says ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, and I have not researched your needs’ like a group email. They all have different requirements, for example, some want the first three chapters; others only want to see the first five pages.
  • Some publishers have author-only newsletters. Sign up for these.
  • Keep a database of publisher information.

Agents

The trick when approaching an agent is to understand their business model. They only make money if you make money, charging you a percentage of the advance and royalties you earn. Royalties are the money you make when your book sells, usually a percentage of the retail price as agreed with the publisher. An advance against royalties is money you are given on signature of contract or finalisation of manuscript. Agents naturally favour publishers who pay an advance.

VERY IMPORTANT: If an agent wants money from you, they are not an agent in the true sense of the word. They may offer literary services along with agenting. That’s fine, so long as they are clear about the differences.

If you want to try the agent route, do it before approaching a publisher. Publishers have excellent memories. If your agent approaches them with a book you’ve already pitched and they’ve rejected, they’ll remember. This will embarrass your agent – not good for your relationship.

Publishers

It can take as long to get an agent as a publisher, and only once you have signed exclusivity will they start the process of approaching publishers on your behalf. Starting to see the appeal behind approaching a publisher direct?

Digital-only only imprints usually don’t pay advances. However, they often give authors a larger percentage royalty and pay faster than traditional imprints, who can make an author wait anywhere from three to nine months for payment. The fact that there is no upfront money means agents leave the easiest break-in point for a new author, digital-only, until last on their shopping list. Again, this can be good or bad. However, for an author, the advantages of getting that first book published can outweigh financial incentives. These include establishing an audience and a track record.

Additional strategies for finding a publisher include:

  • Enter writing competitions judged by editors or publishers. Even if you don’t win, you may make a valuable contact.
  • Attend conferences and take part in speed-dating pitch sessions where you get to meet editors.
  • Network. Go to the cocktail parties.
  • Expand your horizons – look locally and internationally.
  • Read books they publish. Will your book fit their profile? Do they appeal to you?

VERY IMPORTANT: A publisher who charges to publish is not a publisher. They may be a legitimate co-operative or they may be a fraud, but they are not a publisher. If you are asked for money to publish, hear the alarm bells and take a step back. Ask questions of them and your community. One of the clearest signals of fraud is that they are not interested in ebooks, only paperback, as they make their money printing for you. Another is very vague marketing and sales plans.

Stay tuned for more industry tips

Coming up in forthcoming posts: pros and cons of large vs small publishers vs self-publishing; publishers interested in romance; learning from a rejection; why you need a brand, and more.

 

Originally posted by Romance Writers of Australia, http://romanceaustralia.com/tips-from-an-industry-insider-getting-your-foot-in-the-door-agent-or-publisher/, on 14 March.

Getting the most from your publishing team

This week I started blogging monthly for RWA. My column is called Tips from an Industry Insider and you can read the full blog post here. I’ll be adding more reflections and insights every month on the 13th.

Amongst other things, I point out that as an author you most likely focus on one book at a time. No one in publishing works on one book at a time. Everyone is multi-tasking, from publishers and editors to cover designers, product and sales personnel, marketers and publicists. The production line never stops (as any indie authors reading this column know only too well). Even if the company only publishers one book a month, the relentless churn of the production schedule means that while they are editing book A, they are designing the cover for book B, typesetting book C and preparing book D for print. When sales reps sell in month 1, they are researching month 2 and reading ahead for month 3. While a publicist is on the road with you, she is contacting journalists to firm up interviews for Author F and preparing long lead pitches for Author G. … What does this mean for you? Understand the deadlines and timelines your team is working to, from editor to publicist. Stick to them. Be available. Plan. Communicate clearly.

Link

Five fabulous Australian romance novels with five winning cover designs as awarded by Romance Writers of Australia.

  • Contemporary romance: Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards
  • Erotic/ Sexy romance: The Veiled Heart by Elsa Holland
  • Historical romance: The King’s Man by Alison Stuart
  • Young Adult/ New Adult romance: The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey
  • Paranormal romance (including sic-fi and fantasy): The Shattered Court by MJ Scott
  • Romantic Elements: Pretty Famous by Carla Caruso
  • Romantic Suspense: Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
  • Rural Romance: Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn Hein

Romance Writers of Australia

As writers, we pour our hearts into choosing just the right words to tell our stories – but to put a finished book into the reader’s hands, we need to rely on others’ skills.  Chief among these others is the cover designer.  A good cover can entice a reader and add to the pleasure of the story – and the best ones thrill authors!  Each year, to celebrate the blessings of the cover fairies, our published members submit their favourite recent covers for fellow members to choose the ones they like most.

The contest is over for another year, so without further ado, here are our favourite covers for this year, as judged by our members in the following categories:

Contemporary Romance:

  • Title: Operation White Christmas
  • Author: Nicki Edwards
  • Cover Design: Unknown Artist

Operation White Christmas-Nicki Edwards

Erotic/Sexy Romance

  • Title: The Veiled Heart
  • Author: Elsa Holland
  • Cover Design: Hang Le

The Veiled Heart-Elsa Holland

Historical Romance

  • Title: The…

View original post 105 more words

Protected by the Prince by Annie West

Protected by the PrinceUSA Today best selling author Annie West won the RuBY for best short, sexy contemporary romance for Damaso Claims His Heir at this past weekend’s 2015 Romance Writers of Australia awards evening – which seems to me an excellent reason to review another of her novels, the deliciously naughty and extremely nice Protected by the Prince.

Normally when I read a book involving royalty, I travel back in time at least 200 years so I was intrigued to find out how I would feel about a modern-day Prince Charming. Would the spell be as real in a world I know the ugly truth about? Of course, as I should have known, whether I love or hate a character has everything to do with the skill of the writer, and Annie did not let me down.

Prince Alaric is as remote as the tiny mountain kingdom he rules, bound by a strict sense of honour and a deep cynicism based on past experiences. He is not averse to the charms of women, but he no longer lets one anywhere close to his heart.

Tamsin Connors is not the least bit interested in Alaric’s position or his fortune; its his archives she wants to explore so that she can restore her tarnished name in her discipline. But when she uncovers a dangerous secret in those same archives, she is suddenly the subject of his full attention.

Alaric discovers to his surprise that looks can be deceiving. He can feel powerfully attracted to a bespectacled women in dowdish manly clothes (although he itches to dress her in more flattering clothes). In turn, Tamsin discovers that there is more to the Prince than meets – or bedazzles – the eye.

Annie West draws a wonderful portrait of two wounded but independent souls getting to know each other and discovering that passion – and love – can exist and flourish with the person you were least likely to pick as compatible.

Annie has an honours degree in Classics and lives near Lake Macquarie north of Sydney with her own tall, dark and handsome hero. She lives out her fantasies about exotic locations and brooding foreign lovers through her books.

4 hearts

 

 

Protected by the Prince is a sexy contemporary romance.