I blew an opportunity to talk with an editor on Saturday. It wasn’t a pitch meeting or anything; he never would have published me. (He was a mystery guy, I’m a romance girl. We’re from opposite sides of the publishing tracks. It never would have worked out professionally.) But it was a chance for me to put on my Elle Rush hat and act like a romance writer in public and maybe spread the word about my books. Instead, I basically threw my money at him, grabbed the book and ran away.
It wasn’t my finest hour.
I use a pen name. It’s like a secret identity without the mask and cape. Apparently, I need the mask. I’m fine being Elle on-line. In the real world, however, I still shy away about announcing my romance e-book writing status. I think it’s for a few reasons.
1. I write romance. We get knocked pretty heavily as a genre and we aren’t taken seriously. I can spout the facts about the $1.whatever billion dollar industry and about the percentage of overall books sold that are romances but, in the end, often romance is just dismissed. We’re accused of writing “mommy-porn”, of encouraging unrealistic expectations about romance, and of being unable to separate real life issues from of imaginary happily-ever-afters. I’ve written about an amorous Santa’s elf and of a shape-shifting bear infected by an alien artifact (different books). I’m pretty sure I have a firm grasp on the difference between fact and fiction. Funnily enough, I’m pretty sure most mystery writers aren’t accused of being murderers.
2. I write e-books. If I’m speaking to someone who doesn’t know the industry, there is so much to explain. Yes, I have a publisher. No, I don’t pay them – they pay me. Yes, I have an editor. No, it’s not the same thing as being self-published. Then there is the whole “where can I buy one of your books?” question and answer session.
3. Both of the above answers also come back with “oh, so you don’t write REAL books”, which is bad because that answer makes steam come out of my ears and my head spin a full 360 degrees. Accompanied by curse words. LOTS of curse words.
Therefore, based on what I know about someone when I meet them, I may or may not bring up my writing career.
But this week, I’m going to the Surrey International Writers Conference, where I’ll be surrounded by people just like me (or like those murdering mystery writers.) I will have to speak to editor and agents and, who knows, perhaps reviewers or bloggers. If I want to be treated as a professional writer, I’m going to have to start acting like one. So, I’m going to count the chance encounter as a one-off and practice my pitches from now until Friday. I love what I do and should be able to tell people about them.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Hi, I’m Elle Rush and I’m a romance writer. Nice to meet you in person.