“It’s either me or her.”
I’ve worked in industries with that either/or mentally. When I first started out in the magazine publishing business, there was a serious lack of women on staff. Rather than the more senior members acting as mentors, in camaraderie, they viewed the new blood, i.e. me, as competition.
If you haven’t experienced the situation, you’ve probably seen the movies: Business can be cutthroat. Kill or be killed. Push out or be fired. Thank goodness the romance industry isn’t that way!
During her keynote luncheon speech at the SoCalRWA Conference, best-selling author Julia Quinn expressed a need for more established authors to help new ones out. To paraphrase, she said something like, “It’s not like if you recommend a bookseller, they’re suddenly going to stop shelving as many of your books to sell another author instead.”
The fear may persist – If I tell others of this really cool new publisher, or call for submissions, then other writers may be chosen instead of me. At the heart, the author’s work stands on its own. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.
At the March 2013 meeting, Susan Squires announced a new PRO opportunity, where she will work with a PRO member on their completed manuscript for two months. The experience includes a complete read-through and suggestions on the rewrite. It’s a huge undertaking, and Susan deserves major kudos for the offer.
This year, we’ve pushed hard to take our writers to the next level. With the Book-in-a-Year program, we’ve already had several members complete their first full-length novel. Guess what’s next? Yep: PRO. In order to make PRO, a writer needs to submit to an editor or agent, and then fill out the required paperwork with RWA Nationals. The designation indicates a member who is “actively” pursing a professional writing career. The next level up is PAN. The requirements for PAN are not as straightforward as a few years ago – with the recommended changes for those self-published. For those authors traditionally published, whether in eBook or print, they need to earn $1,000 in sales/advance in order to make PAN. While some categorize PRO as those who are “rejected,” that’s not necessarily the case. Perhaps a writer has had a piece accepted, but they simply haven’t hit that $1,000 threshold yet? They’re still considered PRO. It took me about nine months—and three statements—for my erotic paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome to earn enough to reach PAN status.
Another incentive we’ve focused on this year is Write for the Money. A mere $1 equals 1 goal. The closer we get to the next meeting, the more I’m focused on making my goals, so that I can toss my slip of paper into the pot. Someday, I’ll win.
Keep up that energy. We’re here to support all levels of writers, and we rejoice in hearing the good news.
Now, what’s your goal for the month? How about the year?
-- Louisa Bacio
2013 OCC/RWA Chapter President