Should have done that differently

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.

4 thoughts on “Should have done that differently

  1. Holli

    I’m paraphrasing here, but Stephen King said, “If you write, someone will try to make you feel bad about it.” It’s not just romance–if you write mystery, horror, SciFi, etc., you’re a flack for not writing literary fiction (at least in this country). Worse, if you write SciFi, you’re also a geek. And they may not think you’re a murderer if you write mystery, but they’ll definitely look at you sideways if you write horror.

    People who aren’t in the publishing industry don’t have a clue about how it works. When I got an agent, everyone asked where they could buy my book. Which is nice, but they didn’t understand that the agent had to actually sell my book before they could buy it. If you think about it, it is a little confusing.

    My point (and I do have one) is that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I know it’s easier said than done not to care about what people think, but you’re a published writer. A creative person. No one at SIWC will think less of you–there are tons of romance writers and romance publishers, agents and editors–more romance than mystery, as it happens. I hope this opportunity to come out of the closet will be a good one for you.

    Oh, and I think a book with the elf AND the bear in it is a fabulous idea! 🙂

    You met an editor of mystery books and I wasn’t there? Where? When?

  2. Dawné Dominique

    Well, it was very nice to meet you in person, Elle (at Chaise). And I swear…I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on your conversation. There aren’t a lot of people I meet in our profession. I read your post with great interest. I heard (and have lived) every word you said and understand completely. I’ve discovered that having book signings has helped me step forward a bit more (okay, I confess…a lot). You write romance and I write romance “and” erotica. I bet I raise more eyebrows than you (or perhaps they’d be frowns). *chuckles* Either way, it’s who I am, and I worked long and hard to get here.

    I’m a romance, erotica, mystery, paranormal, fantasy writer (try saying that ten times fast). And it was such a pleasure to meet you. : )

    Dawné Dominique

    1. Elle Post author

      Hi, Dawné, good to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words. I look forward to the day when I could practice at a book signing 🙂 Perhaps we’ll run into each other at Chaise again – we’ve pretty much adopted it.

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