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Following Up with Publishers August 24, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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In the past several years, quite a few publishers have added a statement to their submission guidelines along the line of “if you don’t hear from us, we’re not interested.” This seems to reflect a trend in society to seldom return phone calls or RSVP. No response means no.

I’ve never been good about following up with editors I haven’t heard from. I just figured that if they were interested, they’d let me know. I’m sure this is true most often, but in 13 years of writing, I’ve experienced times when I should have followed up.

Last week, another one happened. A magazine editor let me know she wanted to buy an article from me. I asked about another article I had proposed shortly before it. She was unfamiliar with the earlier article but intrigued by the idea. She searched her computer and found the proposed article in her spam filter. She told me she would have bought it had she seen it in time for the intended issue. I have written enough for her that she offered to purchase it for the next theme cycle–a year off. I will probably take her up on that offer but am disappointed because the article will no longer be as timely.

I once had an editor catch me at a conference and tell me how glad she was to see me because she wanted to buy a series of four articles I had sent to her after pitching them at a conference the year before. She had lost the articles, including my contact information, but remembered what I looked like.

An editor at a book publisher wrote me once to tell me how much he enjoyed a humorous short story I had written for an anthology his house was compiling. He had found my story so funny he had passed it around the office–and then couldn’t find it when it was time to pull the anthology together. Months later, he finally got it back and sent it to me with an apology stating that he wished he could have included it in the anthology.

Mistakes happen. I’m glad for publishers who acknowledge submissions when they receive them and send rejection letters. Receiving a rejection letter is better than being left hanging.

I probably should follow up with publishers that don’t indicate in their guidelines that no response means no. But I doubt I do because that takes time and usually I’ve already moved on to something else. And who likes to be a pest?

This past week I almost pulled a short story from consideration from a magazine. (I hardly ever do this either because it’s time consuming and, usually, I’d rather spend the time on newer stories.) The magazine had held the story for a year, and if they weren’t going to purchase it, I wanted to submit it elsewhere. I became distracted with another project and picked up the mail before writing the retraction letter. In the mail was a contract for the short story.

You just never know.

I’m happy I didn’t take the time to follow up.

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RWA Conference August 5, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I’m still playing catch-up after attending the national conference of Romance Writers of America in Washington, D.C. So many bestselling authors, like Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich, spoke at the conference, and I met a good share of them. I acquired autographs on 85 books at the conference, and unable to squeeze them into my suitcase or bring myself to part with them, I shipped them home. Two boxes. I’m well-stocked for winter reading.

Ronica Stromberg and Janet Evanovich at the 2009 RWA conference in Washington, D.C.

Ronica Stromberg and Janet Evanovich at the 2009 RWA conference in Washington, D.C.

Janet Evanovich admitted she no longer has time to read other authors’ books. So sad.

She and I are kindred spirits in other ways though. She appeared at the conference with a broken foot and minus her glasses. She’d lost her glasses, and she’d broken her foot after going to sign a book for a woman at a bookstore and falling off the stage. And I thought that kind of stuff only happened to me! Now I see this is the sort of expense the IRS needs to count in an author’s efforts to make a living.

Janet inspired me with the story of her road to publication. She wrote, as a stay-at-home mom, like me. After 10 years of writing and receiving nothing but rejections for her efforts, she gave up. She burnt the rejections and hauled everything to the curb for disposal. A few weeks later, she received her first acceptance. I couldn’t help wondering how many of the 2,000 writers at the conference had been to the curb and back again. I know I have!

Janet was so gracious to her fans. During a break in the conference, a long line of women formed to have their pictures taken with her. Janet accommodated the whole line, which kept forming throughout what I’m guessing was an hour or more. She had to have been seeing stars from all those flashes, but she never quit. Two or three flashes are about enough to give me a migraine, so I don’t know how she did it. Perseverance once again, I guess.

Ronica Stromberg and Debbie Macomber at the 2009 RWA conference.

Ronica Stromberg and Debbie Macomber at the 2009 RWA conference.

I met about 10 other inspirational writers (like me) at the conference. I had communicated on-line with most of them, but now we finally met face to face.

For the past three years, I’d been looking–unsuccessfully–and praying for at least one inspirational romance author in my area to network with. At conference, I met Renee Ryan, and she lives only blocks from my house. We are talking about carpooling to future writing events. What an answer to prayer!

I took three days of classes at the conference and attended the awards banquet on the last night. This was a black-tie affair. I wore a black velvet dress with silver beading, as pictured below. My husband took this picture in the Omni Shoreham, the hotel we stayed at.

Ronica Stromberg on her way to the 2009 RWA awards banquet.

Ronica Stromberg on her way to the 2009 RWA awards banquet.

The Omni has served as the site of many inaugural balls, and several presidents have stayed there, as well as international icons like the Beatles. Although I felt the urge to dance around like Maria in “West Side Story,” singing “I Feel Pretty,” I restrained myself. 

All in all, the conference was a great one. The only drawback was no Fabio. I had not-so-secretly hoped to get my picture taken with him. (OK, so I told everyone I came across.)

Fabio, Fabio, where wert thou?

You missed out!