The Importance of Proper Research

Librarians, how I love thee!

I spent Friday afternoon at the Hilton Harrisburg for the annual PSLA Conference. No, I’m not a Pennsylvania School Librarian, but I do know a few of them, and so I went to participate as a local author on the vending floor.

What a delightful day!

And back to my first thought… I love librarians. Even more so, I love introverts. We are the most interesting elusive creatures, aren’t we? We’ll stroll by a booth with books, take covert glances, grab a bookmark to study somewhere beyond the author’s line of sight, stroll by a second time, examine a banner, and basically do ALL the research before we finally work up the courage to talk to the author and look at the featured books. (This is, for the record, 100% what I do before talking to someone. Research, so much research.)

Yesterday’s librarians made me smile because if there’s anyone I can relate to, it’s them. One grabbed a bookmark “for later,” and came back after three and a half minutes when she’d gone to Goodreads to view the ratings on my book. She doesn’t buy anything with less than 3.5 stars, so she wanted to check in with her trusty Goodreads pals to ensure she wasn’t about to buy something she’d be disappointed in.

Another sauntered over to my booth after telling me she had just gone online to read the synopsis – probably on Amazon or Goodreads or B&N…even though she just as easily could have picked up the book and read the back cover copy.

Yet a third asked me if I had a rating anywhere on the series that says it’s meant for middle schoolers. (It’s rated 7th-12th grades in online categories.) She was hoping to put my first book in the middle school library, but, according to school policy, there must be a statement confirming it’s meant for those ages. Then she bought a copy anyway – for herself. As a school librarian, her word should be enough. <wink>

Have I mentioned I LOVE LIBRARIANS? I really do.

Owning It

A large part of succeeding as a writer boils down to your willingness to put in the time. Can you accept sitting at a desk, dreaming up worlds, typing (or scribbling) the words, and getting it done? The answer to these questions has always been a resounding yes for me, but I tend to fail when it comes to putting in the face time.

I did just that this weekend. I put in the face time and met dozens of wonderful writers and agents and editors at the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC. It was fabulous. I participated in PitchSlam, in which authors are given one hour to pitch as many agents as they can in three-minute segments. (Truly, it’s any introvert’s nightmare.)

But you know what? While I was nervous going into my first pitch, it melted away quickly. Why? Because I discovered something as I delved into conversation with these agents. I found myself admitting something surprising. Out loud.

I love my book. I love the characters. I love the plot. I love the interactions and the quirks and the personalities. It was a fun book to write and I had fun writing it! And when you enjoy your story, I think it shows. You start to enjoy talking about it and telling people why it’s something they’ll want to read…which makes it a lot easier to pitch.

Proof? I pitched 6 agents and all 6 made requests for partial manuscripts (requested lengths varied). This may or may not result in progress moving forward, but that’s not the point. The point? When you love your work, it shows. 

Writers. Friends. I have one piece of advice for you. LOVE YOUR WORK. It’s yours. You wrote it because you loved it. 

Now own it.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 11.22.14 AM
So many fabulous writers. Dinner on a Friday night.