Thursday, March 3, 2011

WriteonCon Chat Recap

Monday, February 28th, the fabulous ladies that run the writeoncon website hosted another awesome chat, this time with literary agent Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary, and Harper Collins editor, Maria Gomez. The full recap of the chat is available at but I wanted to talk about a few of the topics that interested me.

At one point, the guest panel was asked if there were any manuscripts they were tired of seeing, and/or what they had seen a lot of.

*Cringe waiting for the dreaded V word*

Suzie said: I'm actually really tired of the "teen girl is happily going along in life and then meets a smart, funny, charming, cute boy who shows her that life isn't fair and then she rebels against society." I'm sort of sick of girl influence by the smart boy routine. I want smart girls too.

Not what I was expecting, but an excellent answer.

Maria added: Paranormal and Dystopian are the ones that are landing in my inbox on a daily basis...but the market is still hungry for it. However, I'm definitely more cautious with manuscripts in those genres now that the lists are so glutted with them.

This was the answer I had expected. But do not fear, paranormal and dystopian writers! As long as you have a compelling story with fantastic characters, someone will fall in love with it. Someone will. Someone. Right?

Suzie: I'm also really over plain Jane girl meets mysterious boy who might be trying to kill her but is also in love with her and he's a vampire/werewolf/angel/harpie/gryphon/unicorn/zombie/something else.

Zombie love interest? Ew.

Suzie also pointed out that mermaid love interests kind of creep her out. Dan Krokos (author of FALSE MEMORY, Disney Hyperion 2012) went on to defend his love of Ariel the little mermaid and her hawt seashells.

Both panelists said they'd love to see a great contemporary but that they are a bit harder to sell in today's current market.

Someone asked what sort of high concept contemporary would grab their attention.

Suzie had this to say: A supernatural twist is an easier sell right now (in both genres) but obviously it still has to be a good story. Don't just add a supernatural element for the sake of it being there.

Great advice.

She added: for a high concept contemporary...I want a thriller or something really suspenseful.

Maria: Supernatural twist is easier now, but contemporary should be making a comeback soon--I hope!

Yay! For contemporary! :D

Maria: Ooh...a mystery would be great. Or a really amazing love story--there are so many unexplored aspects of this. I'm tired of the lonely outcast girl falls in love with popular boy story. 

Okay, so I'd love to recap the whole thing for you, but that's kinda why they put the transcript on the write on con site. So, I will just skip down to my own question.

I asked if shorter manuscripts were harder to sell than longer, and what they felt was considered too short for YA. There was much love for well-paced shorter fiction from the attendees, including the hosts. :)

Suzie's answer: Anything under 50-60k for contemporary is a really tough sell.  
Anything under 75-80k for something with worldbuilding is a really tough sell

Maria said: It's harder to sell novellas (really short books) because people are paying $$ and want to get their money's worth, for sure. Especially after all of these 400+ page novels have been so successful. 

And then I apparently broke the chat box because it started acting wonky for a few minutes. Oops! 

So there you have it, my quick recap of the last writeoncon chat. If you haven't been to one of the chats you really should try to attend. They're entertaining, with Shannon Messenger and her jazz hands, and always very informative. If you can't make a chat, the transcripts are available. 

If you did attend, what were some of the topics that stood out most to you? Anything to add to the few I recapped on here? 


  1. Thanks for the brilliant recap. I missed it because of other obligations.

    Glad to hear that about YA contemp since that's what I write. Especially the more suspenseful stuff. :D

  2. I enjoy contemporary every now and again, especially the suspenseful stuff! ;)

  3. I attended. I frigging love WriteOnCon. This was a good chat, I especially loved the confirmation of my prediction (read: desperate hope) that contemporary YA will become the next trend. And I loved hearing that Suzie and Maria are tired of the "girl-meets-supernatural-creature" thing, and that they're looking for more unique romances. I definitely have some of those in my WIP!

  4. Becca, I friggin love WOC too! :D And yay! for more contemporary writers! I write mostly paranormal so I kinda like supernatural creatures, but I am all for unique contemporary romances. I'm hoping to see more historical romance.

  5. Thanks so much for the recap! I attended one of their previous chats which was VERY useful as well. This is great though! *adds to faves list*

  6. I didn't get to attend so thank you for this fabulous recap! Sounds like it was a great chat. Glad I could glean some highlights from you!

  7. Great recap! I somehow completely missed this one, so I'm glad to know about it. I'll check out the transcript!

  8. Trisha, you're so welcome! Thanks for favoriting us!

    Heather, you're very welcome! Hope you can make the next one.

    Ruth, you're welcome!


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