Recent #AskAgent Sessions

Hi Folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any of the transcripts from #AskAgent on Twitter. And the reason is probably because many that cross into the Romance genre are at RWA 2011 in New York, so they are not necessarily going to have the time to answer all the questions. But here are the ones that they have answered.

NOTE: This time various agents have answered the question, so I didn’t list everyone. And the text is just how it came from Twitter, no corrections or changes made to them, so don’t blame me for any missed spaces or spellings. 🙂

Q: Are vampire romance novels still hot? How about Zombies?

A: It’s hard to break in as a newbie. There’s already plenty avail 4 readers to buy so pubs aren’t starving for more

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Q: How does one submit a completed series? Do you submit for the first book only or as a whole?

A: most agents seem to be consistent that they only want the first book. Sell it and the series will sell itself.

Q: There just seems to be a lot of series books lately. Word count is at 200,000 and is too large for a single book. But thanks for the help.

A: bring it to a nice conclusion and try to sell it as that first.

Q: That’s the hard part because it all leads to a final conflict. Will have to mull this over. Thanks.

A: as long as there is some kind of climax you can break it there. I can’t speak for agents but from what I have read 200k 2 long

_________________________________________

Great Questions that no agent has answered yet:

–         When a writer is sent their file for revisions, what do you feel is a reasonable amount of time for turn around?

–         Should you put writing experience in a query if it’s not book-writing experience? (ex: magazine, poetry, short story)

–         If one query/MS is rejected, is it a good idea to query again w/ a different project?

–         So what does it take to become an agent? Like college major, job experience, etc.?

–         Some writers post excerpts from their WIPs on their websites/blogs hoping agents will visit. I’ve done it myself. Silly? Too risky

–         How often do agents engage in publicity and editing? Are authors on their own more or less once the manuscript is sold

If I do read any of the answers, I’ll post them here. If you have heard of any answers to these, please feel free to post as well.

Thanks,

Suzy Kue

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Interview with Historical Romance Author, Ashley March

Hi Everyone!

I was lucky enough to score an interview with author Ashley March. I am so excited to have her on my blog. Her novels are especially interesting because not only are they written during the Victorian Era, but also because they are considered Reconciliation novels versus straight romance. A definite niche in the market.

Ashley March

Here’s a little about Ashley, from her own website www.ashleymarch.com:
After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese  characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese  native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin  Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the  world… Then she discovered writing historical romances was as much fun as  reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she  isn’t writing sexy, emotional historical romances set in the  Victorian Era, Ashley stays busy trying to entertain her two young daughters,  attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of  Colorado.
And now on to my very first interview.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
If you woke up in a jail cell – who would be sitting next to you, and what would be the first words out of your mouth? I’d say, “Well, this sucks” to the dissident sitting beside me because we’d both been arrested for insulting King Henry VIII and his proclivity for arresting/beheading those who didn’t agree with his policies. (What, you expected me to NOT think in historical terms? 😉 )
What has been the single biggest change in your life since you’ve become a published author? Trying to be “present” when I spend time with my family. I have a large to-do list, and I must always try to concentrate on leaving my author persona to the hours of the day when I’m not with my family. They are my number one priority, and I want them to know that by my interactions with them.
Who are some of your favorite authors, in or out of the romance genre? In no particular order, my favorite romance authors are Lisa Kleypas, Julie Anne Long, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Sherry Thomas. There are many, many more, but it would be a VERY long list. 🙂 Because I don’t have a lot of time to read I typically stick with romance, but the last non-romance book that I remember making an impression on me was the historical fiction novel I, ELIZABETH by Rosalind Miles. What are you reading right now? THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE by Jenn LeBlanc. It’s an illustrated time-travel romance written by a fellow Colorado author and I’ve heard so many great things about it that I knew I had to read it myself. If only I had more time–I’m lucky if my schedule allows me to read a chapter a week.
Your novels are set in the Victorian Era – what about that time period so appeals to you? What are your favorite parts of it? I enjoy that SO MUCH happened during the Victorian Era, and I don’t mean because it spanned multiple decades. Changes occurred constantly, both in England and abroad. The dark tone we usually associate to the era appeals to me (as opposed to the lighter tone of the Regency); the transition from the power being held by the aristocracy to the middle class; new innovations and inventions; the advance of medicine and education. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas for new stories.
Do you write your stories with a particular message in mind? And if so, is that clear from the beginning, or does it take shape during the course of writing? As of right now it appears to me that my author theme is forgiveness/healing, as these seem to be very important in both SEDUCING THE DUCHESS and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. However, I don’t have a particular message or theme in mind when I begin writing a book. My goal is to discover who the characters are as I write; even after plotting the book I usually end up (pleasantly) surprised by who they become and what they do.
On your website – you alluded to being very interested in Chinese, what aspect, the language, the history, etc? And do you plan on incorporating that interest into any of your future novels? I’m a polyglot. I love languages (even I though I can no longer speak those I’ve studied). It was the challenge of the Chinese language that initially attracted me, but as I find so often when learning a language, soon you become enamored with the people, the culture, and the history as well. I would love to visit China some day. I’ve played with the thought of a Chinese setting or characters, but usually an idea has to strike me first to be able to plot out a novel. Once an idea hits me for a Chinese setting or character, then I won’t be able to help myself. However, it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the craziest/worst writing advice you’ve ever received (and promptly ignored)? Before I was published, I had someone critique my writing and tell me that you’re absolutely not supposed to use the word “was.” This is an example of someone learning about the misuse of the passive voice and taking it to the extreme.
Thank you so much, Ashley, for taking the time for this interview! For anyone that would like a copy of her debut novel SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, please leave a comment and tell me what the “Craziest or Worst Writing Advice YOU’VE Ever Received” and I’ll choose a commentor at random to have the book shipped to. And don’ t miss the next release of Ashley’s, out Sept. 7, 2011, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS.

SEDUCING THE DUCHESS - Win a copy!

Research for your novel

Ahhh, research.

It can be great fun – perusing through various blogs and search engines to find just the right tidbit of information to make your plot lines and characterization become real and satisfying.

Or, it can be the bane of your existence.

And that’s kind of what I’m feeling right now with my latest manuscript. Through excellent critique partners – both pubbed and unpubbed, I have found out that within my Victorian novel, there’s some question as to my use of Guardianship Laws.

Thus, I went about, in my usual manner and Googled “Victorian Guardianship Laws.”

To my dismay, there isn’t much information out there that was wholly useful. Yes – Google did it’s job by spitting out all the websites that specifically say, “Victorian Guardianship Laws,” plus all the other crazy information that comes with it. But none of the first few pages actually dealt with the Victorian era.

Argh!!! What do you do when Google fails you????

Luckily for me – I belong to an online historical chapter called the Beau Monde (www.thebeaumonde.com) where they have an excellent loop where I asked my question, even though it wasn’t specifically on the time period of the chapter (which is the Regency) but they gave me something important . . . another place to look.

So – now I am going back to Google, BUT I am going to Google Books and I’m going to do select my specific time period and away I go. Wish me luck.

By the way – how do you research?

CALL for Submissions: Halloween and Thanksgiving short stories

As a newsletter for an online chapter, I come across so many articles that I don’t fit our newsletter and it’s a shame that you might not get to see them. So hopefully by my placing them here, you’ll gain the benefits like I do. Enjoy!_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The following article was first printed in the June 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Right as we hit the beginning of summer, are you ready to start thinking about the holidays? No … well, the publishers have planted the seed. It’s the time of  year to start looking forward. This month, the calls feature Halloween and
Thanksgiving. And guess what: Christmas and other winter wonderlands must be just around the corner!

MIDNIGHT SEDUCTION

Evernight Publishing is looking for stories 5,000 – 10,000 words for our upcoming Halloween anthology. Edited by Kimberly Bowman. All submissions will need to be thoroughly edited with engaging characters, plots that pack a punch,
and strong romantic elements with a HEA or HFN.

Think demons, shifters, and vamps. What about a witch with a naughty fetish? An alpha shifter in a race to find his mate, or a gargoyle who can only court his human lover when the sun is down?

These Halloween shorts need to be hot and titillating! Send a brief synopsis and the full manuscript to evernightsubmissions@gmail.com. Deadline: June 24, 2011.

TINA B’s ALTERNATIVE MILITARY ROMANCE

XoXo Publishing presents Submissions Call for their newest line.
Stories must be:
• 4,500 words
• They must focus on a couple
• Safe sex is a must
• Must be a romance-driven story
• One or both main characters should be military or former personnel.

Tina’s B stories offer readers a diversion from the ordinary by introducing stories that explore higher levels of sexual intensity while maintaining the emotional value of relationships. We encourage authors to write persuasive emotionally intense stories while fully developing their characters to the extreme and beyond sensuality. Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines WILL NOT BE considered for publication.

Submit your completed polished manuscript to tina@xoxopublishing .com; Subject line: Tina’s Anthologies military. Deadline is Aug. 15, 2011.

LIKE A COMING WAVE

Merfolk and naiads cavort among the rolling waves, while selkies and sprites winnow below – though not so deep as the serpents or kraken, far beyond the reach of the sirens’ song or Charybdis and Scylla’s hungry mouths. The ocean is a vast playground of creatures real and imagined, rife with power and depth. We want to know how this translates into the sensuality and sexuality of those who live in and around Earth’s last frontier. How do merfolk court? Do the denizens
of the sea get worked up by great storms? What happens if a naiad gets stuck in a tide pool? We’re looking for stories that focus on the humanity in the inhuman, the exploration of unfamiliar boundaries, and the instincts and seductions of creatures that never have to worry about getting somebody wet. Circlet Press welcomes sex-positive stories of all sexualities and preferences.

Submission Details: Length: Our preferred length is approximately 3,500 to 7,500 words, but we will consider the range from 2,000 to 10,000 words. All submissions must be made via email Andrea Trask, editor, at the following address: blisswrites@gmail.com. Deadline: July 31, 2011.

All stories must include explicit sexuality and erotic focus. Romantic content is welcome, but in a short story remember to keep the details on the action and its effects on the main character’s internal point of view. Whether first person or third person, a strong, singular narrative voice is our preference (no `head hopping’ or swapping points of view within scene from one character to the other).

For more details on our editorial preferences, see the general submission guidelines on circlet.com (http://www.circlet.com/?page_id=11). We highly recommend reading the guidelines, especially the “do not send” list, to increase your chances of sending us something we’ll love.

Originals only, no reprints. We purchase first rights for inclusion in the ebook anthology for $25, with the additional rights to a print edition later which would also be paid $25 if a print edition happens. Authors retain the rights to the individual stories; Circlet exercises rights to the anthology as a whole.

THANKSGIVING ANTHOLOGY

Cooking a turkey takes hours, and why waste it? What are your characters thankful for on this long holiday weekend? What will they be thankful for before the dinner is served? How would your characters handle the awkward introduction
of an arch rival to the family Thanksgiving getaway?

Silver Publishing is looking for high-quality erotic romance stories for a Thanksgiving anthology. Details: Word Count- 5-18K. Genre- All genres of erotic romance are welcome. Deadline: Aug. 13, 2011; Release date: November 19, 2011.

For submission guidelines, please visit the submission page. When submitting your manuscript , please clearly state that you’re submitting for the “Thanksgiving Anthology” Submission Call. https://silverpublishing.info/page_4

Compiled by Louisa Bacio. Bacio’s new erotic paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome is now available. Visit her at http://www.louisabacio.com.

The above article was first printed in the June 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

Editor Leis Pederson – Notes on the Publishing Industry and Marketplace

Hi Folks,

This is my last round of notes from our May RWASD Chapter meeting with Leis Pederson. She gave us a lot of great information. This next section relates to the Publishing Industry and market information about it. Again, these were from my own handwritten notes and I did my best to take them accurately. Hope they are useful to you. 

Printing Machine

How important are titles to selling a book? Not hugely important. If a manuscript is submitted with a bad title, it wouldn’t deter Leis from acquiring it, nor selling it. It’s up to the marketing department to come up with something different.

 How much input does an author have on the title of a book? Leis said that she can only comment on how things are done at Berkley Books. But what she asks the author is, “How attached are you to this title? Can we change it?” If the author thinks that it’s very important, then they go back and forth on the exact element of the title that was proposed to see what they can keep and come up with options for Marketing to choose from. But all in all, she wants the author to be happy with the title and doesn’t want it to be forced on them.

Is there a type of book that you wish someone would send you right now? Nothing at the moment.

How much promotion is done for debut authors? It depends on a lot of factors, how many books are coming out that month, if there are back-to-back releases scheduled, etc. No set dollar amount. Berkley Books has a publicity department that handles the print ads (if any), blog posts and social media in general. But they appreciate it when an author does their own promotion as well. It helps everyone.

I have a friend whose book was only on the shelf for 1 week, is that the industry norm? Leis had never heard that. A book on the shelf for only one week wouldn’t be enough to obtain adequate sales. It could be on a kiosk, perhaps, for a week and then moved to a regular book shelf, but none of the books coming out of Berkley would be on the shelf for only one week.

How do you feel about series? She likes them

How is the market for Historical Romances? Leis publishes historical romances and likes them. There are also other editors at Berkley that also publish historicals. They are becoming more difficult to acquire or sell because the readers are becoming more picky about what they buy.

There’s no special time period that they are requesting more than another. If it’s an amazing book, time period doesn’t matter. World War II is the latest they’ll go and still consider it a historical. After that, it’s considered “Retro.”

How has the trend towards eBooks affected BerkleyBooks? Berkley Books’ new policy is to release the eBook at the same time as the traditionally published book. They have an entire legal department that searches out pirated copies of books regularly, but the piraters are pretty smart and change their websites all the time. Authors can also submit websites where their books are pirated and send them to the legal dept to shut down as well.

 What is a Scheduling Board? At Berkley, they have a giant board where they slot books. There is no Bell Curve saying that they can only buy 3 paranormals in a year. Once a book is acquired, it is usually published one year later. That date can move forward or backward depending on if others meet their deadlines or not. It’s a moving target that’s updated regularly.

Do you have any interest in Gothics? Yes – if it’s well written. A Gothic is one of the first books she’s ever edited. They are hard to do well, but a great book is a great book. They want great books.

Why is Chick Lit out of style? Because the market became over-saturated with them. They were so popular that everyone was doing it, and then supply suddenly overwhelmed demand. They are now referred to as Women’s Fiction.

With the economy as it is right now, are publishers steering clear of hard back books? The industry is definitely taking a hit, but it’s changing daily. It really depends on the author whether or not they’ll put it out in hard back.

 What are Sell-Throughs (Sell-Thrus)? They are the percentage of books sold, gross versus net on a book. So if 60,000 copies of a book were printed, and 30,000 copies were sold, that’s a 50% Sell-Thru rate. Publishers want at least 50%. These numbers are not in the contract. Remaindered books are also counted in the Sell-Thru.

 What is Remaindering? It is when the printed books are overstocked in a warehouse and they want to clear it out. They’ll sell them at a discount to stores like Dollar General.

How do you feel about multi-book pitches, and do all the books have to be completed at pitching time? It depends on the book proposal. If it’s a series or a trilogy that’s fine, but the concept needs to grab her. The rest of the books do not need to be completed, but there would need to be a synopsis on them.

How do you feel about Social Media for unpublished authors? It’s a good thing to social network so that you know the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Get tips and hints for submissions and queries. It’s not a good idea to post samples of your work. Create a fan base that will want to buy your book as soon as it’s published.

What books are hard to publish right now? Romantic Suspense – it’s harder to sell because the readers are very picky.

What are your thoughts on Light Romance or Humorous Romance? It’s very hard to tell someone that you’re funny and have them believe it. What you find funny may not appeal to a wide audience.

 What is the difference between BerkleyHeat and Sensation? Heat contains graphic sex and lots of it throughout the story. They tend to push the envelope in terms of bondage, multiple partners, etc.

Sensation has a small element of the same thing, but considered more “normal” sex. When submissions come in, editors will shuffle between the two lines depending on the story.

I’ve never written a synopsis, do you have any tips for how to write a good one? Find a good chapter contest and read through their score sheet. If you can answer every one of those questions well, then you’ll have a good synopsis.