NJRW Conference 2014 Highlights: What Publishers Are Looking for Now

The Editors Panel at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Oct. 18, 2014.

The Editors Panel at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Oct. 18, 2014.

The New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference is a treat I look forward to every October, not just for the chance to mingle with fellow writers and attend craft workshops, but also because it’s an opportunity to get a feel for the pulse of the publishing industry.

Given its proximity to New York, the New Jersey conference traditionally draws a fair number of editors and agents. Our own Violet Femme Joanna Shupe did a phenomenal job coordinating these expert panels, which are always an excellent opportunity to learn what’s going on in the  New York publishing world.

More than one editor on the panel mentioned that she’s looking for more romantic suspense, while another said she’s loving cowboys and Amish romance. One panelist mentioned that shorter, grittier romances are a current trend. All in all, there seemed to be a general cooling off toward paranormal, although one editor still wanted to see young adult paranormals.

As an historical writer, I was thrilled to hear editorial assistant Nicole Fisher say Avon would never give up on historicals.

Lauren McKenna, executive editor & editorial director at Gallery/Pocket books, reiterated her love of the genre, telling writers in the audience that what she’s looking for in historical submissions is something she hasn’t seen before.

The editors also touched on how digital publishing’s fast turnaround allows a new author to release books and build a readership faster than with print alone. They also talked about the importance of signing writers who are willing to work with their editors to make their books the best they can be.

During their panel discussion following the editors forum, agents stressed that  authors, both published and unpublished, should have an online platform and be active on social media because that helps the agents sell their books.

Earlier in the conference, I slipped into the standing-room-only special PRO presentation, “Taking Your Writing to the Next Level,” given by New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter. She gave pre-published authors tips on pacing and avoiding that dreaded saggy middle. She also left them with the advice: “Don’t let the rules of writing rule you.”

The Violet Femmes threw a “Ditch the Heels” evening social on the first night of the conference, which turned out to be a great success. Femme Jaye Marie Rome blogged about the bash last week.

Another highlight of the conference for me was the Book Fair. It was my first book signing and it was such fun to meet and talk with readers. I wasn’t sure what to hand out to people who stopped by my table but I eventually settled on candy, custom matches and a post card with a link to an excerpt of my latest release.

At my first-ever book signing and the "swag" on the left.

At my first-ever book signing and the “swag” on the left.

People who signed up for my mailing list had a chance to win a copy of Compromising Willa and a carton of custom tea — the heroine of the book blends custom teas so I thought that would be a fun promotional tie in.

Fellow femme RoseAnn DeFranco gets busy at the NJRW book signing.

Fellow Femme RoseAnn DeFranco gets busy at the NJRW book signing.

On the final evening, the Femmes went out for dinner at Bonefish Grill.

We caught up with each other, gossiped about the industry, and shared details of what we’re currently working on. These gatherings are always special because it’s rare for us all to be in one place at the same time.

We definitely made the most of it!

A rare opportunity for the Femmes to get together.

A rare opportunity for the Femmes to get together.

Having fun at dinner with fellow Femme Michele Mannon.

Having fun at dinner with fellow Femme Michele Mannon.

On Sunday, we all headed home, but the aftereffects of the conference lingered. I came home super motivated to jump back into my current work in progress. In that way, the NJRW conference is the gift that keeps on giving.

I can’t wait until next year!

Best,
Diana

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17 Comments

  1. Great post Diana! The summary of the editor panel at the NJ Conference is very helpful. Love the pics too!

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 29, 2014

      It was great seeing you in person and being able to chat a bit. I always learn a lot at conferences, especially NJRW.

      Reply
  2. JB Schroeder

     /  October 29, 2014

    So many highlights, each on better than the last! : ) Fab post, Diana! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 29, 2014

      Thanks JB! I I’m seriously intrigued by your plot for your third manuscript, which we discussed at our dinner out. I can’t wait to read it.

      Reply
  3. I’ll have to keep these in mind as I’m writing. Glad you had so much fun at the signing!

    Reply
    • Hi ki pha! I was nervous about the signing and was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Even though we get to “meet” many readers on social media, seeing and talking to them in person was very rewarding.

      Reply
  4. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  October 29, 2014

    Thanks for posting about the panels, Diana. I didn’t get there.

    One reason we Jersey girls always look forward to the conference is so that we get to see YOU! It’s the one time of the year we are pretty much guaranteed the pleasure of your company. Remember the first year we met you? Wow, it seems so long ago, doesn’t it?
    Hugs!

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 30, 2014

      Hi Jaye – I’m so thankful to have met the Femmes. When I met you and the other Femmes in person that first year, I was smart enough to stick to you all like gum on the bottom of your shoe! I’m so glad I did. Our writing sisterhood has become very important to me 🙂

      Reply
  5. What a great post! I love the conference, too. This year’s speakers and workshops were wonderful. I love the networking and brainstorming.

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 31, 2014

      Hi Ruth – It was great seeing you at the conference! One of the best things about it for me is gathering with like-minded people. After my first ever conference – at NJRW a few years ago – I went home and told my husband, “I’ve found my people.”

      Reply
  6. So great to see you there, Diana! Your post is super. I love reading historical romances (even though I don’t write them) so i’m glad to hear they’re still in demand. The Femmes’ party was a blast. Thanks so much for throwing it! You guys are such a great group of ladies and writers!

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 31, 2014

      Hi Nancy – It was lovely to see you too. I’m looking forward to another NJRW tradition in February with you as head cheerleader – 30K Write Away!

      Reply
  7. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  October 31, 2014

    What a great recap of the conference. I learned a thing or two here…Amish romance in demand, who knew? Thanks for capturing the rush at my table! 🙂

    Reply
    • Diana Quincy

       /  October 31, 2014

      RoseAnn – I loved that one of the editors referred to Amish romances as Bonnet Rippers. 🙂 And I couldn’t help but notice that you were quite busy at the Book Fair!

      Reply
  8. Hi Diana. Thanks for the recap of the Editor panel, which I didn’t get to attend. It was a great conference, as usual. This has been a busy year and it was nice to be able to network with writer-friends! So happy you got to take part in your first book signing.

    Reply

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