Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Real World Recap: Frankie's "Breaking into the Biz" talk at Arcadia University!

On Friday night, Sara and I returned to our alma mater, Arcadia University, to listen to Frankie's talk on "Breaking into the Biz" as part of the school's Writers Series. We're so proud of Frankie, and she did an awesome job!

Here's a quick recap:

Almost ready!
(Check out the back -- they had to ADD more chairs!)

Dr. Wertime, Frankie's former professor and
current colleague, introducing Frankie.

Wooooo Frankie!!!
So -- the talk!

Frankie covered a number of topics, basically what she wished she'd known three years ago, when she began to seriously pursue publication.

- The industry
Frankie stressed the importance of getting to know the industry. Read books in your genre, follow agent/editor blogs and Twitter feed, subscribe to industry e-newsletters (like GalleyCat and Publishers Lunch) -- get to know names, trends, everything you can get your hands on!

At first it seems overwhelming, but then you see how people are interconnected, and it's a smaller business than you first imagined. Also -- industry pros aren't as scary as you think they are! Editors, agents, and bestselling authors are people, just like you, and most are more than willing to talk with you.

- Writing and revision
You have to find a writing style that suits you. Frankie spent years writing drafts of her novel until she found the right way to tell her main character's story -- and then in six weeks, she wrote what became her final version. Then came the months of revision!

- Getting critiqued
Getting your work critiqued can be tough at first, but it's SO helpful to have outside feedback. Writers aren't the solitary creatures people imagine! Frankie talked about how lucky she was to have a critique group fall into her lap after a Writing for Children class at Arcadia (awwww, thanks Frankie!) -- but if you aren't that lucky, go out and find critique partners! There are tons of writers online, and local writing events can introduce you to your future CPs. Also, you can sign up for peer or professional critiques at conferences.

- Networking
Writing conferences are an excellent way to get out there and meet people! You never know what connections may lead to, so talk to as many strangers as possible at these events. Choose conferences in your genre, and you should even join a national writing organization (like SCBWI or RWA) and see what local-area events they have.

If frequent conferences are out of your budget (or even if they're not), attend local book signings and chat it up with authors and fans. It's free, and you can learn valuable information from your favorite writers!

- Branding
If you're comfortable with writing online, start a blog! Help people get to know you! Reading and commenting on blogs is a great way to start relationships in the business. Before you do, think about how you want to present yourself online -- basically, create a "brand": an consistent identity that people will associate with you. This isn't scary at all; it's just about being yourself, but in a way that is focused and easily recognizable.

- Agents and querying
Frankie attributed her incredible querying success to the hours she spent revising and perfecting her query and the additional hours she spent honing a specific list of agents she thought well-matched her work and personality. (Oh Frankie, so humble.) She also explained the importance of having a literary agent -- someone who gets your work to top editors, helps you revise, navigates and negotiates your contract, and much much more -- and how critical it is to choose the right literary agent for you.

- You're never done.
Until that book is on the shelves, your work is never finished. There are revisions upon revisions upon revisions, even ones you don't expect. If you're in it for the long haul, be prepared!

Afterward, Frankie fielded questions for about a half hour, and then a line of people waited to speak with her. The mark of a successful talk!

Congrats, Frankie!!!

(For Frankie's drastically different (and much more entertainingly anxiety-ridden) recap of the talk from her point of view, check out her blog!)

Any questions for Frankie or the rest of the FNC? What do you wish you'd known before you started writing seriously? Leave it in the comments!


  1. Wonderful advice! I look forward to reading Frankie's post.

  2. Thanks, Natasha! Frankie's post is so funny -- from watching her speech, you'd never know how nervous she was!

  3. So sorry I missed it! Thanks for the excellent recap, Donna.

    Oh, you would NOT believe it: the word verification is "killem." Guess that's what Frankie did Friday night, eh?

  4. Joanne - No worries, glad you enjoyed! And she did indeed kill 'em!


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