Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deanna Wadsworth aka the Networking Mistress

- Chance groans and lets her head fall to the bar. “I’m never gonna get a handle on all a’ this! Why did she put me in charge a’ networkin’?”

- Barossa reaches out and grips her hair, lifting her face and bending to peer into her eyes. “Net-whatting?”

 -She jerks away from his hand and rubs at her head. “That hurt, ya know!”

- “Thought you were drunk, if you were drunk, it wouldn’ta hurt. I do apologize! But really, what is networkin'?” His blurry eyes open and close as he lifts his rum tankard.

- Chance snatches it away from him. “You’ve had your limit, Hector. You’ll be no good ta me if’n yer soused. She sighs and tales a sip from the tankard. Networkin’…it’s sorta like usin’ a net ta snag customers. Me alter-ego put me in charge a comin’ up with ideas ta help sell ‘er book, thinkin’ as a bartender that I’d be social and all. HA! She don’t know me so well… I hide behind me rum bottles…”

- “Serve yer drinks nude, ya’ll get customers that way!” He leers.

- “I don’t need customers, she needs customers. Or fans or whatever ya calls those who read. She needs readers.”

- Chance’s head rises as a Tarzan like call comes from the shore.

A moment later, a gorgeously dressed blond sweeps down from the topsail and onto the deck, dropping the line as she lands. Her ruby red high heels gleam, her teeth shine, her hair is…perfect. She lowers her glasses and peers over them at the motley pair.

- “I heard someone is in need of networking advice!” the blonde says.

- Barbossa grins crookedly at her. “I remember you! Last time ya brought a curvy lass in a red cape and an…interesting young man.”

- “That is my alter ego. Today, I’m your Networking Mistress! You think you scurvy lot are ready for RT?”

- Chance and Hector snap to attention at Deanna’s stern voice. “Aye, ma’am!”

- Deanna cracks the long whip no one realized she had strapped to those leather pants. “That’s Mistress Deanna, you flea ridden dogs!”

- Sobering up immediately, Chance and Hector salute.  “Aye, aye, Mistress Deanna!!”

- She smiles wickedly. “Now, that’s more like it. I want you to listen up! You’re running out of time here! Your conference is in one week and you, Chance, need to sell some books! I think I got here just in time to remind you a few things.

- “First is your swag. You better have business cards on you at all times. NO EXCEPTIONS!!! This offence is punishable with a long walk down a short plank! Hear me?”

- “Aye aye, Mistress Deanna!!”

- Mistress Deanna begins pacing in front of them like a general addressing  her troops. She palms her whip which Hector eyes warily. “Now this is important because you may spend all your days in your jammies writing, but this is a professional conference. And professionals have business cards. Now let me see your cards!”-

- Chance looks nervously at Hector who shrugs. She reaches under her pirate hat and pulls out a small metal container and slips a crisp business card out and with trembling hands presents it to the dominatrix before her. “Here ya go, Mistress Deanna.”

- Mistress Deanna takes the card and eyes it shrewdly. “Hmmm,” she says after a minute. “You were paying attention. I see a crisp card you were carrying in a business card holder. Very professional. So much better than a rubber band. I hate rubber bands. Though I had a sub once who was into cock and ball torture. He loved a good rubber band….but I digress. These cards are nice. And I also see that the design on the front is simple and clean. You have your email and website on there. And you even have your card white and empty on the back. Very, very good. It’s important that you leave the back clean and matte. Why is that?”

- Chance grins big. “So ye can write all the stuff you talked about with the person on the back of the card, Mistress Deanna.”

- She grins. “Very good, Chance. And why do you do that? Hector?”

- He scratches his head, looking at a loss but finally says, “So’s you can use that email thingy to contact them later?”

- “That’s right, Hector. The most important thing you can do after a conference is contacting all the people you talked to via email and Facebook. But you lot look a right mess! Stand up straight! NO slouching!”

Chance and Hector straighten up straighter than the mainmast of the pirate ship Revenge.

- “Networking is about more than fancy bookmarks and nice business cards,” Mistress Deanna tells them. “If you don’t look your best and put yourself out there to meet new people you can have all the pretty swag you want and when you get home there will be no one for you to email.

- “The real reason for going to conferences is to promote yourself thru networking. If you hole up in your room and write or sit in the back of the classes and take notes like a good little school girl you are wasting your money and time. I don’t know about you salty porpoises but my time is valuable! And I am going to make the best use of it.”

- “How’s we gonna do that?” Chance wants to know.

- “By making a goal to talk to three strangers every day so that at the end of the day you made at least one good connection.”

- Chance and Hector share a nervous glance and Mistress Deanna saves them by saying, “Don’t worry your flea bitten heads.” She cracks the whip and they both start. “If you go where the people are you will find someone to talk to. But this ain’t Field of Dreams. If you go into the bar or the café they WILL NOT COME!

- “You have to go up to them! But have no fear they are there for the same reason you are. Networking! As soon as you say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself they will do the same. Then if you prepared well, you can even have a conversation starter prepared such as “Is this your first writing conference?” Let them talk about themselves and ask leading questions. When your great chat ends, make sure you make notes on the back of their business card so that when you get home you will remember who they are. Believe me, if you do your jobs right you will come home empty of your own cards and swag and bearing a hefty load of cards from all the people you met.

- “Don’t forget, if you met someone you really connected with, stick their card in your business card holder with your cards so you don’t lose it.”

- “Yes, Mistress Deanna!!”

- She eyes them one last time “Now I have to go, but just remember this:

- If you don’t step out of your comfort zone and try to make friends, your conference won’t be nearly as fun or as successful as you want it to be.”

Without another word, Mistress Deanna whistles loudly. Everyone jumps and she leaps effortlessly up on the gunwale of the ship. When they look down into the water they see two giant sea turtles harnessed with patent leather waiting patiently for their rider. Mistress Deanna leaps over the side, and effortlessly lands on them despite her stilettos, one foot per turtle. She grabs up the reigns and waves at her pupils.

- Before she rides her reptilian steeds into the sunset she shouts back up on deck, “And don’t forget to smile and shake hands!”


Bestselling erotica author Deanna Wadsworth leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her hubby of 14 years and three demanding little dogs. She has a fascination with the exotic and taboo but it is her love of love in all its stages and incarnations which made her an erotica and m/m author.

You can find her on Facebook, or her blog.

Her blog, btw, has all sorts of wonderful pictures on it! ;-)

She's at Goodreads

And you can buy her books here: Decadent Publishing and Amazon


Now, I know no one but me be goin’ ta RT, but there be conferences and opportunities ta network everyday… Mistress Deanna be available today ta answer questions ‘bout how ta make connections. Ask away!


Donna said...

Deanna, nice landing on the turtles! (And for some reason I'm giggling at you calling this pair "salty porpoises". LOL)

It's been a while since I've been to a conference, but one of the best icebreakers is to ask, "What do you write?" People love to talk about their books, and it's a great opener.

Another one is "Which class have you liked the best?" Not only does it give the other person a chance to talk, but you can learn about a topic you might have had to miss.

Wish I was going to be there at RT. Sigh. Maybe next year. (I'm getting tired of saying "maybe next year". LOL)

Deanna said...

Donna, Those are great starter questions, too. Sometimes all shy folk need is just something planned to say and they can do it.
I was giggling to myself in Panera when I wrote that, LOL
Thanks for stopping by!

JM Madden said...

Love the imagery here. And I have to say, I changed my cards after your conference blog series. White, with a purple design on the front, but tasteful, still with room for my info. And blank back. It totally made sense when you wrote that.
Thank you dear!

Bosun said...

My cards actually have The Revenge blog address on the back, but there's room to write as well. I need new ones since I moved (WHY did I put an address on the cards??) so I'll consider the blank back.

As an extrovert, I have no problem talking to strangers. Problem is, talking to them does not mean making a connection. I'm terrible at making connections. Skipping Nationals this year but I'll be attending M&M in the fall so I will work on my connection making before then!

Thanks for being here, Deanna. What a fun blog. LOL!

2nd Chance said...


I gotta quit staying up so late before a blog morning!

JM - Yeah, wish I'd seen the note about leaving the back of my business card blank... Sigh. But I did leave the back of my bookmark and coverflat blank! I always have a notepad with me, so I'll manage the notetaking one way or another!

Donna - Good questions!

*scribbling madly

I swear, I never know what to say or ask. Other than "Are you having a good time?" I tend to ask questions totally unrelated to the conference. I always seem to ask where people are from. I'm curious!

Deanna - I took 50 buttons with me this weekend to the steamcon convention I attended. Put them out on the open promo tables and they all...disapeared! Ditto with my bookmarks and coverflats. Didn't really make any connections. I was willing! Looking back on it now, I can see at least one excellent place to do so, but...I didn't. But good lesson for me to get ready for RT!

Marnee said...

Networking. *shivers* I like meeting people and talking and whatnot. I'm a bit of an extrovert, honestly. But Marketing is basically sales and that terrifies me.

I know, if I'm lucky, I'll have to eventually get over it.

I like the idea of business cards and whatever. I actually loved the two conferences I've been too. I hope I can get up to the NJRWA conference again this year. I really love the energy.

(PS, Donna, Suzanne Brockmann is the speaker. And Victoria Alexander.)

2nd Chance said...

Marn - when is the Jersey conference? (Not that I can wing another one on my calender, but I'm curious about how conferences time out. I know Spring Fling either just happened or is happening soon...)

Donna said...

Marn, I was just thinking the other day how much I'd enjoyed the NJRWA conference, and I'd like to go again (and with the extra added bonus of SB). I need to shake the money tree HARD. LOL

Chance, asking where people are from is another good one. You just want to get people talking. Imagine you're back in retail -- it's like that. :)

I'm re-doing some business cards, and at first I wanted to have my book info on the back, so people wouldn't HAVE to write anything down. I'm still debating that. I won't put my address, though, because nobody needs to know where I live. If a publisher needs to know that, it'll be in the contract. LOL

Bosun said...

NJRWA was my first real conference back in 2007 and I really enjoyed it. The only problem is, I hate driving up there. LOL! So I'm headed south! M&M is about the same size, and they have really good speakers this year as well.

I probably do what Chance does, ask questions that don't pertain to writing or reading. Probably because I never know what to say if someone says, "I write and read predominantly paranormal." I have no follow up for that. Saying, "Oh, I don't like paranormal stuff" is probably not the way to go. LOL!

2nd Chance said...

Last year I simplified my card. Just my name, genre I write, e-mail and phone number. And website!

I'm always fascinated about where people come from...I don't know why, I like to travel and I generally find some common ground with that question. I just blank out after that. Must write down good networking questions for RT!

Hellion said...

If there is any topic that is sure to frighten a writer more than plotting (instead of pantsing) or GMC, it's NETWORKING.

"What? We have to talk to people? I don't like people!"

Writers are such watchers--it's hard to do the opposite. :)

And this reminds me: I really need new cards. My old cards have my old address on them.

Do you have any suggestions about websites? Or how to make the perfect pitch for when you are networking?

2nd Chance said...

Hellion - It's funny, we write about life and people, but find it a little annoying to actually reach out and chat with them!

Hellion said...

I don't mind so much asking other people about their stuff. Listening is not so much the problem for me. But reciprocating in an interesting manner about myself without being so self-deprecating that it sounds like I wrote a 3rd grade book report that only a parent could love is where I go horribly, horribly wrong. I have issues about talking positively about my books/ideas.

Well, I have issues about talking positively about most anything.

2nd Chance said...

You know, I could see this and you're right, it's hard to chat about our books with positive spin...we're taught to be so circumspect and not blow out own horn about everything in our life, so why should our books be different?

Bosun said...

Damn comment got eaten. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.......

I kept getting dinged last year at Nationals because when asked what I write, I'd answer "Just your basic contemporary romance. No bells and whistles."

WHY I felt the need to do that, I've no idea, but most everyone corrected me immediately that this was not an acceptable answer.

Hellion said...

“Just your basic contemporary romance. No bells and whistles.”

EXACTLY the sort of thing I'd say. And then I wouldn't explain what the story was actually about. It'd be like pulling teeth. If you wanted me to hand you a query of the novel, so I didn't have to physically explain it to you, I could do that.

Though if I got questioned on the query, it'd be like,

"Adam and Eve! How clever! It sounds hilarious."
"It has a couple moments."

I guess it's all those days of staring at your manuscript and thinking, "This is the DUMBEST thing ever"; it seeps over into your other parts of your life.

2nd Chance said...

I'm gonna see if I can get Deanna back here to discuss this. I can chat my blurb up and be enthusiastic about my book, when asked...but yeah, in casual conversation I'll try to get onto another topic as fast as possible!

Kathleen Ann Gallagher said...

You painted a fabulous scene here! I can visualize the whole thing. lol

I have white cards with a blank flipside, but could not find bookmarks. I have postcards instead. What do you thing/

What do we do at Club RT? How is it set up?



Bosun said...

I'm also on the "I don't want to always sound like I'm selling something" boat. How do you talk about your work with pride and interest without sounding like a late night infomercial?

2nd Chance said...

Kathleen - You stand around and smile a lot at Club RT... Don't worry, they'll be others around to smile at and look all composed about it!

I think that's part of the problem, Bo'sun. You feel like Billy Mays hyping the sham wow... There has to be a middle ground to sharing your excitement (and yes, you must sound excited!) and feeling like a late night used car salesman.

2nd Chance said...

And now, I'm off to walk the dog!

2nd Chance said...

BTW, Club RT is a big room. It's where the few vendors who are selling stuff have tables set it. It's where the baskets authors are giving away are set up and where people sign up to win said baskets. It has an area where authors sign up and stick around for readers to come chat with them... It's open, it's bright, it's friendly.

Kathleen Ann Gallagher said...

Thanks, Chance. Sounds great!

Deanna said...

Glad that you took the advice to change the cards, JM. I hope they work for you!

Maureen, I am not surprised the buttons disappeared! They looked great. Sorry, I goot distracted by a scene on my new book! Those dang characters can be so demanding that you don't realize how fast the time flies!

Deanna said...

Marn, just remember all those scary looking folks you don't want to go up to and chat up...they are there for the same reason you are! Networking!

Man Donna, you got the conversation starters down! People love to talk about themselves!

2nd Chance said...

Get out yer whip and make those characters behave, Mistress Deanna!

It was really cool to see the buttons gone... I don't want to haul any home from RT. Well, maybe some to give out with blog appearances...

I did make the mistake of not putting my web address on my bookmarks or cover flats, but I am adding stickers to the back with that info on it. I may not hit every single promo item I bought, but I'll get a fair chunk of them!

Deanna said...

Hellion, listening is the best networking tool. Far better than talking, you can make a solid impression on the person and they will be drawn to you.

Kathleen, post cards are a great idea, especially if you are going to sign them in lieu of a paper book!

Deanna said...

Bo'sun, don't sweat it. Networking is not about selling yourself. If you are doing a pitch, they almost always ask to read your stuff. Then you can let the work speak for itself. And I kinda like your no bells and whistles tag line. :)

Damn! I forgot how chatty the Revenge gets! It's been awhile since I've been on board. Usually my guest blogs are quiet and not nearly as interactive as this, so I''m trying to keep up but you girls rock over here! Now you just need to put this typing enthusiasm into networking IRL!!!

Deanna said...

Chance, it wasn't me that was doing the whipping this time, LOL, it was another silly princess. I am on a deadline to finish my new erotic novella and get it to DP before the weekend.

Bosun said...

We do have the blog networking down pat. LOL! Yeah, we're chatty. But we're staying on your topic more than we often do, so that's good for us!

For some reason, I never expect people I met last year to remember me the following year. As if I look that different or something, it's weird. So you don't think hanging in the bar looking lonely will help? LOL! I've got that down pat as well.

2nd Chance said...

Yup, we be a chatty group.

I credit the early morning rum.

BTW, we have problems with the Bo'sun underestimating her stories because there are no paranormal elements, or bombs exploding or hostage situations...she thinks she's too vanilla. I've read her stuff, it's got tons of flavor and it makes me smile and gods, we all need more of that.

A no frills, bells or whistles style of humor... Yeah, you're right, could be worked into a great tag line...

Bosun said...

No bells or whistles. Hmmm...I can see the twist. Funny enough, the next book has a boat captain hero, so I bet there will be bells and whistles. Literally! LOL!

2nd Chance said...

Hee, hee. No bell but the ship's! No whistle but the Bo'sun's!

I love it!

I love the idea of the "I'm the writer without vampires, bombs or CIA/FBI agents. Just real people in real situations with the bite of humor. Okay, no teeth save for when smiling. No bells, no whistles, no frills. No fangs."

Deanna said...

LOL This is the MOST ACTIVE blog I've ever done....I should have remembered that from last year!

Bo'sun, I don't know if looking lonely will help, but I always say that the bar is the best place to meet people. Just a Q: do you email all the people you met once you get home or FB them? The hardest part of networking sometimes is staying in touch throughout the year. I always make it a goal to make one good connection a day

2nd Chance said...

That reminds me, I want to friend the merchant who sold me my new business card holder and my nifty mechanical pen!

Off to FB and do that...

Deanna said...

Dang, Chance! That's a good tagline. Just needs to shorten it a bit so Bo'sun can put it on her cards!

Deanna said...

Hellion...sorry missed your Q earlier. It was a good one and I don't want to ignore it. I just went and walked on the tredmill and worked on my book and came back to 20 comments! LOL

If you are going to do a website, check out Its as easy as blogger to customize your website.

And as far as pitching while networking, you have to realize that networking is not promotion. While they do cross paths, it's important to keep the two agendas seperate

Promotion is selling your books and yourself. Networking is meeting other writers/agents/editors who you can create a mutually beneficial relationship with.
For instance, you meet another writer and after you go home you guest blog for each other, maybe become critique partners. Who knows? What things you can offer each other in a business friendship is what you need to focus on while networking. If you connect with them, chances are they will buy your book just because. The swag, while ultimately is intended to boost sales, its also just a way for your new connections to remember you. You are really at conferences to create an identity and make folks remember you as an author.

I hope that made sense :)

Bosun said...

Deanna - I have a core group of friends, pubbed and unpubbed so I rarely meet brand new people. And when I do, I fail to make it a real connection and carry it beyond one brief conversation. But I feel challenged now to try and do this. Chance and I will have to make a point to push each other while we're in Atlanta later this year.

I like the "No frills. No Fangs." That's totally me. Though what qualifies as frills? I might have some of those.

Deanna said...

Hooking up with old friends is a perk at conferences but much like our industry changes constantly, we need to do so too. Which means we need to forge new friendships. Try setting a goal of making 1 friend per day and going out of your way once you get home to stay in contact with them. Even if only one stays in touch, you were sucessful :)

How about "Real life. Real Love. No Gimmicks and No fangs?"

Bosun said...

That does make sense, and being a business major, I know this. I just need to get my mind around the "I am not using this person" concept. I know I'm not. Rationally, I know this. It just feels skeevy sometimes.

I have the same problem in real life too. I has issues. :)

2nd Chance said...

I do like the idea of how can we be mutually benefical to each other... I will make a note to constantly remind me of that at RT. And M&M with the Bo'sun. We can poke each other to get out there and make connections, then come back and brag about them...

Deanna, I intend to sit down with you at RT and get some advice on how to do a few things on the computer, btw. I'm bringing the cuffs...

Bosun said...

Oh, I like that!

Deanna said...

Romance with a bite of humor and no fangs!

Bosun said...

It's like author friends with benefits! LOL!

I can just see Chance and I now, whispering from the corner of the bar, one of us pestering the other to approach someone. It's like all the nightmares of my 20s coming back to haunt me.

2nd Chance said...

Okay, Mistress Deanna...the whole forge an identity thing.

I'm blogging about this on Wednesday at the Daily Dose. I wonder about who I'm supposed to be at the conference. The bartender I portray here? The piratee author? Just me? I mean, who will people expect to see? I'm part of panel with one dynamic author and one I don't know...

I wonder how a person keeps the identity 'ON' at conferences...

Though I'm not a total split personality, I am pretty much who I portray...

*dizzy now...

2nd Chance said...

You know what will happen, Bo'sun? I'll connect up with a bunch of contemp authors/editors/agents and drag them over to meet you or I'll pitch for you. You'll end up in a corner with a bunch of erotica/paranormal authors/editors/agents...

This, I expect!

And yeah, the trick with networking is being mutually beneficial...

Deanna said...

LOL, do i need to be afraid, Chance?

If you feel like you are taking advantage, then this advice I was given once might help. "While networking don;t ask yourself what this person can do for you, but what you can do for them."
It's a bit JFK but if you are a good listener and you see a chance to help that person out with something you have experienced or know about the publishing world, you should do it. Networking is a 2 way street. You scratch my back I'll scratch yours. Sometimes in order to make the connection you have to scratch their back first. Then they remember you, you become someone knowledgeable in their eyes and they seek you out. Then when you need them they are very willing to help (most times) Just like you don;t want to use anyone, hopefully the folks you connect with will feel the same. You sound clever enough to know a user when you see one! LOL

Deanna said...

Maureen, be yourself. Its not an act. Mark Twain said "Always be yourself because the people that matter don't mind and the people that mind don;t matter."

Deanna said...

I'm gonna go MIA again for bit, and this time I know enough to announce it first to you Chatty Cathy's!
Gotta edit some more sex!
I'll check back in an hour!

Bosun said...

After editing sex, we're going to seem really boring when you get back.

I love that advice. I can do that!! I'm a chronic helper. Takes an act of will to stop myself from volunteering for every damn thing. Helped set up a PTA dinner at my daughter's school a couple weeks ago. Horribly unorganized. I spent the entire time muffling the voice in my head that kept repeating, "We could so do a better job of planning this. You should offer to do it next year."

Uh...yeah, no. LOL! But I can totally look at networking as extending a helping hand. Thanks for the advice! (And I know we're driving you crazy, but I hope you're having fun. I know I am. And I needed fun today.)

2nd Chance said...

Oh, I do like that Twain quote! I will remember that! I may make a button with it... “Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind and the people that mind don't matter.”

I'll let you go, Deanna...once you walk me through how to set up a goodreads author page. And an amazon author page...and move my blog to my website and add some of the add-ons and set up a newsletter and...

...Where'd she go?

Bosun said...

Chance - Your question about who to be at the conference and how to be "on" reminded me of something Cathy Maxwell once told me. She's created this image of the happy author. Which she is, don't get me wrong. But she's known for this big, wonderful, joyful smile. So when she goes to conferences or reader events, she has to keep that smile going.

Now, as you can probably guess, no one feels like smiling all the time, but it's her thing. Much like Christie Craig's hats. Still, those elements came out of who they are, so they work.

You're one of the most enthusiastic people I know, especially about your own books. (Your abundant use of exclamation points anywhere and everywhere is virtual proof of this.) If you let that enthusiasm shine through, just like it did when you pitched your books, then you'll be a winner all day long.

Now, I'm good with you bringing the people to me. :)

2nd Chance said...

Well, and if we can ever drag the captain out of her cabin and to a conference with a completed book, I can sell her book... So, I can haul people over to you, too!

Why is it easier to sell someone else's stuff? We are such a tweaked society!

And thanks!

Yeah, I think about Christie and the hats and wonder how long I want to wear a tricorn everywhere I go? Then I realize...the rest of my life is good for me!


I am a walking exclamation point!

Bosun said...

I pitched Marn's book once. LOL! Though if an agent/editor sitting next to me in the bar asked about it, I could tell them. Don't mind at all. But I'd have to be asked, I'm not foisting a pitch on someone clearly trying to take a break and have a drink.

Deanna said...

It's hard to have to be the person that is 'on' all the time, but well worth the effort! LOL I say try it, nap in the afternoon and drink. It helps!

Leslie Soule said...

Ack! I didn't make business cards! Guess it's time for me to make some last-minute ones!!!

2nd Chance said...

Well, Leslie, at least you know how to make them right!

Deanna said...

Leslie!!!! You better hurry! Kinkos does 24 hour stuff, fyi