Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Romance Anyone?

Status: Whose bright idea was it to schedule meetings from 9 in the morning until 9 in the evening? Oh wait, that was my fault.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA FIGHT by Tina Turner.

First off, if you are a Denverite and you have not had a chance to vote for Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET to be the One Book One Denver choice, please pop on today as June 15 is the last day to vote!!

Pretty please. *grin*

As all of you know, I’m here in New York for the whole month of June meeting with a variety of editors. This week, I’ve had a chance to talk with 4 editors who work in the romance and women’s fiction field.

For wm’s fic, it’s still the order of the day to find an upmarket literary voice with a story that has a great hook.

In other words, a good story well told…

In romance, there’s a bit more uncertainty. Editors really don’t have a clear picture on what might work for a debut. Will it be paranormal? Historical Romance? I was hoping Historical Westerns would make a come back (as I do have a soft spot in my heart for them) but editors weren’t showing a lot of enthusiasm.

Now contemporary Western (or set in Texas) seems to be working okay. And yet sales, in general, for contemporary romance is soft.

All I’m really getting is that whatever the novel is, the author needs a powerful and strong voice. If she has that, the rest will hopefully follow.

In other words, romance writers, I got nothin’ to share here. Should make for some interesting spotlights at RWA!

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16 Responses

  1. Melissa Sarno said:

    I was reading Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on the NYC subway this morning and every time I looked up this woman on the train was staring at the book and me almost the entire ride. Now that I know you are in NYC, I think, was it you? (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you. 🙂 Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned from editors on your trip.

  2. The Pen and Ink Blog said:

    I like a nice time travel romance with some humor. Geralyn Dawson had a good historical western series starting with The Bad Luck Wedding Dress. Have fun in New York. I want to go back so I can see The Book of Mormon.

  3. Evangeline Holland said:

    I think the romance genre is in an uncertain state because so many of its readers and authors are turning to YA and to e-published offerings that stretch beyond NY’s boundaries. It’s a pretty exciting time to be a romance writer, and I for one am up for the challenge.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Romance editors will say the same thing they always say: they’ll “know it when they see it,” they “want a good story,” “a strong voice,” “a good hook.” Etc.

    Do not expect them to say anything about what the next big thing is; they never know until someone publishes it and it catches on. Then everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Remember secret babies and cowboys? And “cartoon” covers for chicklit? Never mistake a romance editor for someone with vision.

  5. Robert Michael said:

    Wow, Anonymous. Bitter much? You make some valid points. The thing about trends is that one can either catch a trend or create one. It is the risk you take: if I am creating a trend, how can I be sure it will work?

    We can all conjure up authors whose work began a trend or broke convention. It is most often incumbent upon authors to be the trendsetters, though. It is not as often that an editor has the idea and presents it to the author. It happens, but when it does, it usually is shared between an author and editor who are familiar.

    Although I feel that information from agents as to what editors are “seeking” is helpful to establish idea generation in general, the information is often too poor in timing to be functional. It can take over a year to write a manuscript, so unless you have one that is ready the information may not come in handy. But don’t stop providing it Ms. Reid: we still need to know.

  6. Lucy said:

    Uh, Robert? Did you mean Ms. Nelson?

    I’m trying to picture Kristin with shark teeth, and I can’t quite make the stretch. 😀

  7. Jen Daiker said:

    Well seeing as nothing is being offered here on the romance side of things I’ll stick to what I’m doing in Women’s Fiction land and hope that my voice does the talking and knocks them off their feet.

    Yes, I am hoping for that approach.

    *jots down idea for western romance* *query list: Ms. Nelson FTW*

  8. Anonymous said:

    I was watching Fox News the other night and read on the bottom of the screen that contemporary Romance is the number one bestselling genre in publishing. My sales are excellent, and I’ve had a great deal of luck with historical westerns…much to my own surprise. I have three HW out and they’ve all been amazon bestsellers. When I hear editors comment this way, I have to wonder what kind of info they are tracking and where they are looking. It’s always way too ambiguous.

  9. Carmen said:

    Anon(s), I can’t blame editors for being cautious in the soundbite age. I’m not an editor, but it seems to me that their job relies more on “knowing it when they see it” than on predicting the next big manuscripts to land on their desks. If they were clairvoyant, I’m sure they’d all be relaxing on a beach somewhere living off their lottery ticket winnings rather than trudging around NYC.

  10. Brett said:

    Hey, Kristin, I was just wondering if you could comment on how scary you think Middle Grade horror can be without going too far? How much violence or gore is really allowed?

    Also, how do you feel about middle grade fiction where the protagonist isn’t actually middle grade age? Perhaps a teenager or even and adult instead?

    Thanks! Love the blog 🙂

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