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Workshop Handouts

Best Selling Author, Anna DeStefano

Agent Michelle Grajkowski

Turn Your Proposal Into An I Do: A communications plan for the unpublished author Crafting the best book you can write is only part of your publishing journey. Grow your skill as a storyteller. Fall in love with your characters and plot. But before you sell, often for a LONG time before you sell, you must navigate key professional and personal relationships that will make or break your career. Blind dates, first kisses, rejections, unfair word of mouth, shaky engagements and the endless walk down the aisle--there's a publishing analogy for every relationship stumble. The key to surviving this courtship phase? Developing business, communication and people skills that can be challenging for creative personalities to embrace. Don't be jilted at the alter. Learn how to sell your proposal and yourself to the agents and editors who want to say I Do!


Surviving Puppy Love—The work (and stalking) you do before you pitch. •

Networking is the courtship phase of your first sale. It's not enough to be looking for someone who loves your book as much as you do.

Develop professional relationships with your career in mind.

Grow your communication/listening/presentation skills, to improve your plans' chances.

Turn Your Proposal Into an I Do... •

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Decide want you need from your potential “mate.” What traits will most attract you to your ideal publishing partner? Are you looking for a hands-on agent, or one who will give you your space to merely handle your business affairs? When looking for a publisher, start by thinking where your book belongs on the shelves? Trade paper? Mass market? Electronic? This isn't speed dating, until you find someone who will say yes. Target the publishing partners that are your best fit.


To get your proposal to the alter, define a communications plan for how to pitch your story, when to do it, and whom to pitch to. A phased approach works best.

Rejection Sucks—He's/she's just not that into you. •

This is one of the toughest parts of your plan.

You need a proactive plan for dealing with rejection, beyond, "I hope the next one works better."

Write something new--Always. Revise if there's a viable chance your WIP might still sell, but ONLY if you're also writing the next book/proposal. Otherwise, you're fooling yourself and should get out of the publishing race. Now.

Hone your pitch. Dissect what worked and what will get you closer next time?.

Be realistic. Reset boundaries for your search, and re-evaluate what you're communicating when you pitch/submit. Stop trying to make yourself feel better, if the truth is there's lots of work to be done and your work just isn't ready yet. Or, maybe you're looking in the wrong place or in the wrong way, and need to modify your plan. Be brutally honest about your weaknesses and failures. It's a target-rich environment, but you have to know your limitations and where you and your work WON'T fit. The goal is to improve your plan and to grow into a writer and businessperson who CAN sell. To grasp each opportunity to change, you have to see your failures and accept failure as part of the learning process. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

Turn Your Proposal Into an I Do... •

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Spread the love. Play the field. In fact, redesign your field to fit you. Target new prospects based on every rejection you've cultivated. You're a mercenary and a free agent, until you've found your publishing sweet spot. •


Figure out what isn't working. Read between those rejection letter lines. How's your editorial feedback rep? If you're not showing yourself in your best light, it's time for a makeover

Getting Down On One Knee—The pitch after the pitch after the pitch after the pitch had better be the best pitch of your life! •

So, you're pitching your story, writing and rewriting proposals, submitting and being rejected, and submitting again. Then you're rewriting some more.

All while reassessing and learning and modifying your plan for finding the right publishing home, the right editor and the right time to give your best, most sellable story idea it's best shot. You're being honest about your weaknesses and staying positive about your growing strengths. Then the unbelievable happens...

Now's your shot. You have the ear of an agent and/or editor who meets with and hears ideas from hundreds--thousands--of writers a year. What's hard about that, right? Phase Two of your plan begins. You've just graduated from crushing to wooing...


The Long (and sometimes short) Walk Down the Aisle—Close the deal with style, because there's no sale until you hear I Do! You ain't got a thing, if you ain't got that "ring"--The CALL! But once you've got it, you're nowhere near done. What should you do next? •

Ask LOTS of questions. You're not going to jump into marriage without knowing your potential partner's expectations, are you? And, vice versa. You're fiancé going to want to know a few things, too.

Communication is key to any relationship. Begin by discuss the way that you like to communicate the best. Set email and phone boundaries. And make sure your editor/agent-to-be is clear about her go-to work methods.

Even the best relationships have their rocky moments. Let's discuss techniques to handle communication breakdowns, and how to assert yourself professionally. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

Turn Your Proposal Into an I Do...


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Bios Anna DeStefano Anna DeStefano is the nationally best selling author of classic romance for Harlequin and Silhouette, and contemporary paranormal romantic suspense for Dorchester publishing. She's a two-time Romantic Times Award winner, a Golden Heart winner, and she's won the Gale Wilson Award of Excellence, the Maggie Award for Excellence, and has been a finalist in numerous other awards, including the National Readers Choice awards, the Holt Medallian, and the Book Buyers Best Award. Past President Advisor of Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), a group of over 200 published authors and aspiring writers that meets monthly in Atlanta, Anna is GA Tech honors graduate with 10 years of experience working in Corporate IT, She applies the more analytical side of her personality to studying the craft of storytelling. Her interactive workshops on the writing process—plotting through character, improvisation (drafting), and rewriting—regularly attract standing room-only crowds wherever she speaks. She's presented to over 60 conferences and groups, including the Harriette Austin Writer's Conference at the University of Georgia, the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, and the Surrey International Writers Conference.

Michelle Grajkowski From the moment Michelle Grajkowski first opened her doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with great authors and their exciting and imaginative books?) Since then, she's successfully sold into major publishing houses including Harlequin, NAL, Berkley, Dorchester, Kensington, Avon, Pocket, Random House (both here and in the UK), Knopf, Andrews McMeel, Warner, St. Martin's and HarperCollins. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

Turn Your Proposal Into an I Do  

Crafting the best book you can write is only part of your publishing journey. Grow your skill as a storyteller. Fall in love with your chara...

Turn Your Proposal Into an I Do  

Crafting the best book you can write is only part of your publishing journey. Grow your skill as a storyteller. Fall in love with your chara...