Friday, January 11, 2008

More News

My latest proposal got a green light, so Darkyn book seven will feature Robin from Evermore as the Kyn protagonist. The working title is still Rob Forever, but that will definitely be changing in the near future. And, if all goes well, it will likely be released in January 2009.

The pitch for this particular novel involved submitting a formal synopsis and taking two phone calls to discuss it. I was very glad I had my series notebook (like a novel notebook, although more like an encyclopedia in format) on my desk while I was talking to the editor. Sometimes series proposals require you to reference back to details from earlier books, something that isn't too tough at book two but can be a real bear at book seven. As a series grows, just keeping correct running character name, status, backstory and appears-in lists is a challenge. Doing it over the phone and off the top of your head is nearly impossible.

I prefer written proposals to verbal pitches because you have time to think things through, work them out and polish them up before you put them in front of an editor. Verbal pitches often fluster me because I'm more comfortable on paper versus the phone. You never know when an editor will put you on the spot with unexpected questions during a telephone pitch, either. You can be talking about book A, and she/he may ask something like, "So who do you see as the protagonists for book B, C and D?"

I know some writers prepare index cards for pitching, and I tried that at a couple of conference editor appointments during my first years in the biz, but I never felt comfortable with handling the cards. Too nervous, I suppose. I always forgot to glance casually at the ones that I didn't drop while shuffling. And God forbid the editor ask me something that wasn't on the cards.

Have you guys any special methods or memory boosters that help you with verbal pitches and/or written proposals? Let us know in comments.


  1. I'll be following the comments with interest. I can't even call a doctor's office to make an appointment without having a script in front of me, and god forbid the person on the other end of the line wants to get chatty. "How am I doing? How am I doing? I can't answer that, it's not in my prepared remarks!"

    People expect me to be articulate because I write.


  2. I try to track everything with a program called Write It Now

  3. Write it out as though you expect it to go the way you want it to go.

    Then write down all answers to all the questions you think might be ask.

    I'd probably still need the notebook if I were at book 7, but it should cover most of the bases.

    (I just write it out, and look through it before the phone call; don't actually use it during)

  4. Hooray for Robin! I write everything down on post-it notes, which is probably not the best organizational method. A 3-ring binder is probably a better idea. But my way can be paperless, and I keep a cheat sheet on my computer of all the who's who and what's what (along with pesky details like physical description). Because nothing sucks more than flipping through pages trying to see what color eyes so-and-so had...

  5. Anonymous8:33 AM

    I've never pitched a thing in my life - soon enough, I hope! - but I just want to say congrats on the go-ahead. I for one am delighted because I really want a Robin book. :D

  6. Never pitched anything, but I can't even order a pizza without getting nervous. "What? Extra toppings? Crispy or thick? Regular or deep dish? All I wanted was a pepperoni pizza..."

  7. i'm salivating at the notion of Robin's book, i just fell in love with him (or was it someone else..what was his name??) in Evermore. i've never pitched anything before, but i was really interested to hear everyone's different methods...i had always wondered how you writers keep backstories, references, names, etc all straight in your head.... i feel like i'm in on the secret now! how fun!

  8. Anonymous10:26 AM

    I keep notes I need to refer to quickly on the computer, in a Word document. That way I can scroll up and down or use the find command. Plus, if I end up taking notes on the conversation, my typing is much more readable than my handwriting. Not the perfect solution, I’m sure, but it seems to work for me.

    May I add how happy I am to see that Robin gets his own book? There was a scene near the end of Evermore that had me in tears…

  9. Anonymous10:57 AM

    This is really dumb, but I can't order pizza without getting nervous. I forget stuff like my own phone number. To set up my voice mail at work, I have to write it down and read it, and I've worked for the same company for 13 years. I'm pitiful on the phone!! I'll be even worse, I'm afraid, if I ever have the opportunity to pitch in person.

    Yay for Rob Forever!

  10. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I don't pitch anything but YAHOO! After I read Evermore I hoped hoped hoped Robin would get his own book :)! I am a happy happy reader!

  11. Congratulations to you!!!

    And yay for us!


  12. Congrats!

    I really, really, really need to update my series notebook for the Mercy Hollings book. I almost missed a continutity error in my line edits. I know perfectly wel these are fabulous tools, but I still haven't gotten mine current.

    I was wondering when reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- did JK Rowling use a series notebook? And, if so, how big is the freakin' thing?

  13. Congrats on Rob Forever! Yay!


    You have made me a happy reader. :D

  15. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Notebooks. I keep all my notes in notebooks or on my storyboard in post it format. Do you add to your series notebook as you go along? Or do you consolidate your notes to it? I'm a notebook junkie.

  16. Anonymous10:37 PM

    Fortunately my editors and agent get that while I can write a story, I can't necessarily articulate the general idea of the story well.

    So far all of my proposals have been written short and sweet and with the stuff that's not heading for an epub, I send it thru my agent.

    The only question I've gotten to date is... this isn't replacing your current series right?

    As long as I'm willing to juggle, I've been given pretty free rein. Although I don't expect it to last forever.

  17. kerry allen, my standard answer to "How are you doing?" has become, "Still breathing." Sometimes it gets a laugh. Sometimes a "It beats the alternative." Lately, it's been "Glad to hear it" (I'm recovering from pneumonia)

    PBW, congrats on contracting Rob Forever. I'm looking forward to getting Rob's story.

  18. Congratulations, that's wonderful.

    I only hope I'll get to do a pitch or proposal one day.

    I do find notes by my side help when I've got something to ask about on the phone. :-)

  19. Lynn -

    I can't talk my books at all until I've finished writing them, so a written proposal or pitch is always better for me..

    BUT, about you -- I'm glad to hear about another Darkyn book - so this one will be after Valentin's book...which is next?


  20. Congrats!!!!!

    For verbal pitches (in person anyway) I tend to go over what I want to say in my head, over and over again and jot down notes so I hit the high points. I think, when pitching in person like at a conference, enthusiasm is much more important than how well you can read your note cards (it'll be obvious if you know your storyline or not).

    Written proposals...not so much. Other than keeping a notebook for each book I write (they're 8.5 x 5.5 mead notebooks) for writing and note-taking, but I'm still working on selling my first actual series so we'll see :)


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