Jillian: Today’s guest is Danica Avet, a long time friend and one of the first people to ever follow this blog. We love her and I wanted her to share her Silken Sands Conference success story with the blog. Welcome Danica. Please be sure to enjoy the badurday boys she brought us as the inspiration for her rock star hero in this story.
DANICA: It started out innocently enough. I was having a smoke outside the hotel in New York City. What most of you non-smokers don’t realize is that there are a lot of writers, editors, and other industry people who have this naughty habit. And when smokers get together, they chat. Which is how I ended up talking to a lady who turned out to be the Editor-in-Chief for Ellora’s Cave. I didn’t pitch to her because at that time I had an agent who was handling all of my business. We chatted, we laughed, we connected. Later that week, I met another editor with Ellora’s Cave, but it was more of a passing “Oh, Danica, this is Grace Bradley” than a meet and greet.
Fast-forward to March of 2012. I’d mentioned on Facebook that I was going to the Silken Sands Conference. The same editor-in-chief I’d chatted with in New York told me to tell Grace Bradley hi for her. It seemed simple enough. I wasn’t pitching at this conference either. By this time though, I no longer had an agent. The book my agent had tried to sell for a year had been contracted out to Evernight Publishing by me. I was happy enough. I had two other stories waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting publishing industry, one that I’d already submitted to two publishers, but I was being patient. For once.
The first day of the conference, I was loitering in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the first big event to start and wondering where I was going to take my mother to dinner when a lovely lady with beautiful red hair sat in the chair next to me. I glanced at her tag because I recognized her face, but couldn’t place her name. Grace Bradley. I told her Kelly had asked me to tell her hi. That was all. She glanced at my tag and said “I remember you from New York”. It’s the hair. It has to be the hair, everyone remembers the hair. But I was still pleased that I’d made some kind of impression on her.
We started talking about one of her authors who is my critique partner. Then we somehow started talking about another one of her authors whose books I adore. We moved on to the beach and summer in the south and next thing I knew, she asked me what I wrote. Ever have that moment when you go “Um, um, um, um”? I had that moment. I wasn’t pitching to her, after all. I was happy with my new Zen-like patient attitude toward the publishing industry. Yet I ended up telling Grace about the book I’d just written called Primal Song. She was attentive and nice and it felt cool, not at all stressful despite my moment of panic. She told me to send her something sometime and all I could say was “but I didn’t mean to pitch”. She didn’t seem to mind. She thought from that short conversation that she might like what I wrote.
That accidental pitch led me to receiving a contract for Primal Song with Ellora’s Cave. Actually, if you piece everything together from RWA Nationals Conference and the Super Secret Smoker’s Guild meetings on the big steel pipe and the small, intimate Silken Sands Conference and a chance run-in with an editor, it seems like fate. Maybe it wasn’t accidental at all. Maybe Primal Song was always meant for Ellora’s Cave but I was too blind to see it. Or maybe it was all coincidence and luck. Who knows? All I do know is that what started out as a mediocre 2012 has blossomed into Awesomefest 2012.
Lesson? Don’t underestimate the power of the little connections you and definitely don’t knock small conferences. They allow for more intimate chats with other authors, editors, and agents. It’s a little more relaxing for everyone involved. As much as I love going to Nationals, it’s a bit like a big game reserve with authors stalking editors and agents who become wary if you glance in their direction. Silken Sands provided me with an opportunity that I would have missed at a bigger conference and I have to give major thanks to Jillian Chantal and Sayde Grace who twisted my arm convinced me to give it a try. Thanks, y’all!