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|Rachel with Kate Johnson|
I was very fortunate to have attended my very first Romantic Novelists’ Association conference this year, and a little bird tells me you want to hear the some of the juicy details – the stuff that doesn’t necessarily get published. The stuff that’s really useful to know … I was only there for half of it, but here are some of the key things I discovered.
Don’t worry about forgetting a pen and paper when you set off – it’s all provided in the official goody bag. Along with free books, bookmarks, postcards and chocolate! But do leave yourself some breathing space to find your accommodation - I got lost quite a few times!
Students these days have it really easy! Our rooms were en suite in small flats with a fantastically equipped kitchen area. Long gone are the days when you had to sneak a member of the opposite sex in past a grumpy porter at the front door!
Good news. The market isn’t as bad as some would have you believe. At the beginning of the conference Jan Jones ran though a list of authors who had good news to share about successes in the past year. There were loads. RNA members are getting published and selling in buckets.
It appears that everyone agrees that an online presence is essential for an author these days. Networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are vital for marketing yourself and your books. It’s hugely beneficial to interact with your readers and pick up a few tips yourself – that’s why you’re reading this right now, right? I had a ten-minute editor’s pitch and had my suspicions confirmed; when you submit to a publisher/agent they will Google you. Fact! Don’t get caught with your knickers down, folks, keep your blog up to date and make sure it sparkles.
There is no right way to write. Jill Mansell told us that she writes longhand with a fountain pen on foolscap paper on the right hand side of the page. Revisions are inserted on the left hand side of the page and then she gets someone to type it up for her. Jill would feel physically ill if she had to write more than 1500 words in a day, whereas Louise Allen can do four or five thousand in a day if she has to.
Every author has to be prepared to market herself. I now know what an ‘elevator pitch’ is – make sure you do too, you might need it when you bump into an agent in the loo during the conference or RNA winter party...
Make sure your book has a really good title, having a ‘working title’ may not be good enough. If it’s weak, you may lose the agent/editor’s interest before they even turn over a page.
Most importantly, never give up. Jill Mansell confided that after two rejections from agents she was going to thrown in the towel if she got a third. Fortunately, she didn’t, she’s a bestselling author. Keep going, you can do it!
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Rachel's debut novel, Storm's Heart, is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.
Rachel can be found on Twitter as @RachelLyndhurst, and her blog is at