Takeaways from RainbowCon 2014 Day Four

M/M authors Greg Howard, Cody L. Stanford
and Aidee Ladnier

The last day of RainbowCon means I have to leave all my new cool friends and go back home!! :'(

But the panels on the last day were just as great as the rest of the conference. I attended Publishing Dos and Don’ts, Blog Tours: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, and ended the conference with a great panel on The Male Perspective.  Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Always pay attention to publisher submission guidelines. The publisher will remember you if make them reformat your story to the submission format in order to read and edit it
  • Don’t cop an attitude or bad mouth editors or cover artist–that will come back to you
  • Don’t make a publisher send you a certified letter because you don’t reply to email and/or miss your deadline without contacting them. You are contractually obligated to be part of the publishing process–don’t be unresponsive. Not doing your edits puts you in breach of contract
  • If you can’t make a deadline just contact your editor. They’ll understand. Tell them why you can’t meet it and when you expect to meet the deadline
  • Make sure you look at galley proofs because once it’s printed you cannot fix it
  • Even if they suspect that a book will not be accepted, many editors still read a chapter or more (sometimes to the end) to give the story a fair assessment
  • Many publishing houses have a policy not to give feedback to authors if they reject a submission. However, authors can look at works that were accepted and often see where their submission did not meet the call
  • Read a publisher’s About page and make sure they accept your type of story before submitting
  • Finding out who the acquisition editor is and naming them in your email will make your submission stand out from all the “Dear Editor” letters
  • Scheduling a book to be published 9 months after acceptance is standard
  • Don’t write to trends because once you finish the story the trend is over. If you rush to publish it might not be very good. Trends are often cyclical. Put out a good book and then when the trend comes back around, up the marketing on the already pubbed book
  • Don’t write to trends if you don’t like the genre. It comes thru in your writing
  • You can sign ebooks by using Authorgraph
  • Brick and mortar stores may be on the way out, but print on demand books will probably always be popular since people like to hold books in their hands
  • If you are willing to jump in and make the edits necessary instead of fighting every step of the way, editors are likely to want to work with you again
  • You don’t need to send a story to a freelance editor before sending for submission–beta readers and critique partners are great and cheaper
  • Simultaneous submissions can get you banned from a publishing house if they don’t allow it and you do it anyway
  • While waiting for a submission response don’t publish the story online or continue editing the story
  • Don’t use family or friends for beta reading or at least train them on what to look for
  • Reading out loud when you edit. Also try recording it and listening to it read back to you for self editing
  • Do not use fans as beta readers–they’ll read everything you put out. Also retire betas if they become fans. They will no longer be useful for catching problems in your story
  • Blog Tours have an important place in helping advertise in a small genre
  • If blog has never read an author they will request an advanced copy to see if you fit in with their reviews
  • There are two types of blogs: review blogs and introduce author blogs
  • Blog Tours have guest posts (controversial topics work best), excerpts/spotlights don’t work as well, interviews are so-so unless you already have a following
  • Gift cards are great giveaway prizes. Rafflecopter is great for getting readers to sign up for your other forms of social media. You should give away one prize for the entire tour not all stops
  • Ask blogs not to review the same day as they guest on the blog–that way the author gets two bumps in sales
  • Reviewers are getting something from Blog Tours too–they get traffic
  • Bloggers loooove to have premade copy/paste html code to put into their blog
  • When setting up a Blog Tour, ask when your post will go up and check the link
  • Make sure you have purchase links for a book before you begin the Blog Tour
  • Get your posts to the blogger more than just two days before the tour stop–that’s not enough time
  • Ask blogger what they want: an interview, a themed post, a character post, a music playlist, pinterest boards, recipes–readers want something extra for coming to the tour
  • Bloggers and readers love banners for tours
  • Finding one champion passionate about the book is better than ten 5 star reviews
  • Don’t do just excerpts–save that and advertise the day you’re doing it as a special one-time deal. Save a cover reveal for another blog
  • Answer blog comments–even just a thank you is important. And ALWAYS say thank you to the bloggers if they host you
  • A blog host giveaway is not necessary but giving them a free copy of a future book in the future is nice
  • Pick a topic to guest post on that makes you approachable and someone readers identify with and want to interact with
  • Have an easy to find website and a visible email address on it for readers and bloggers to contact you (not a contact form)
  • Men write M/M for realism but women read it for escapism. Women buoy up the M/M industry. There are not enough gay male readers
  • You can gauge society’s acceptance by women’s acceptance
  • M/M fiction serves as an educational tool to help readers change their mind and alter their worldview
  • Most female M/M readers were tired of the sameness of heterosexual romance and M/M has layers and depth–it is more literary
  • Literature should not rely on stereotypes–books should have fully formed characters
  • If a man is not in touch with his feelings they should not be all over the page–he should have to dig for them
  • There has been a concerted effort by women to write more realistically and as a result, if you read M/M fiction without knowing the author, you often can’t tell if it’s a man or a woman writing it
  • The happily ever after has become the stereotype for romance but Gone With The Wind & Wuthering Heights had no HEA
  • Trope of jacking off in the shower has got to stop. Showers are for bathing
  • You can tell when an anus is relaxed. You don’t always need fingers!
  • “Gay For You” fiction ignores the journey that a gay person has to go through and is offensive
  • There are bisexuals in the world but there are few stories that show them
  • M/M books suffer when M/F gender roles are assigned to them. Characters must be fully formed and not stereotypes
  • Literature should reflect the present world and where we want it to go but M/M doesn’t need to have characters get married to be a happy ever after
  • You do not have to have penetrative sex to live happily ever after–there are men that do not do penetrative sex ever
  • Readers don’t like open or multiple partner relationships but those also occur in the real world
  • Be true to the people in the book. Being true to your characters is more important than a writing to a trend
  • Gay characters don’t have to fuck women to prove their masculinity
  • Don’t create women with a penis. Men should be men. Don’t find/replace a M/F romance and think it will fly as M/M
  • A gay man’s preference to top or bottom will change over time because people change
  • A lot of problems lay with authors not creating fully formed characters—make sure they are 3 dimensional beings!

And who’s the luckiest person at RainbowCon 2014–me!!! I won the spa package at the closing ceremonies raffle.

I will miss all my LGBTQ writer friends when I leave tomorrow, but this weekend has been a wonderful learning experience. I have learned so much and met so many nice people.

I would definitely recommend all LGBTQ writers check out future RainbowCon events!

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