Pub Rants

Paranormal to UpMarket Women’s Fiction

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STATUS: I got several emails this morning asking me if I was okay since I didn’t blog yesterday. I never blog on holidays! And yes, maybe President’s day is a bit of a debate but nobody in publishing was working yesterday so I took that as permission to take the day off. Besides, it was 60+ degrees here in New York and Chutney and I had Central Park to explore. Like a dork, I forgot the camera.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FIELDS OF GOLD by Sting

Today I had three meetings.

I had lunch with an editor from Little, Brown Children’s. Coffee with an editor who does both young adult and adult at Kensington. And then in late afternoon I had a meeting with an editor at Ballantine who handles upmarket commercial/literary women’s fiction.

So what did I learn?

Paranormal elements in YA is still quite hot but (an especially for this editor at Little, Brown, if she sees another Twlight vampire look-alike, she’ll spontaneously combust).

So the paranormal elements have to be really different, intriguing and in a really well-built world because the editors are seeing a lot of submissions. The manuscript would really need to stand out to cause excitement.

In terms of upmarket commercial women’s fiction, it’s all about the writing. Really, editors are looking for literary writers who can tackle the more commercial themes in a way that’s fresh and well constructed.

In other words, if you are writing in this area, go to the bookstore and see what is coming out in hardcover in this realm and start reading. Some examples from Ballantine would be Nancy Thayer’s MOON SHELL BEACH, Carol Goodman’s THE SONNET LOVER, and Nancy Pickard’s THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS.

17 Responses

  1. Joelle said:

    Ahhh…yes…President’s Day, was it? Well, I didn’t email to ask if you were all right, but it did cross my mind! I don’t suppose you’ll notice when I take Canada Day off either. Glad you’re having fun…May the temps hold for a while. It’s always nice weather when I go to NYC and it’s often winter. Weird, eh?

  2. Anonymous said:

    I just love that name ‘chutney’. Do you think she is a mango chutney, hot spicy chutney or apple chutney?

    Thanks for the suggestions re women’s fiction. It is so good to get specific examples of worthwhile books. Life is short, and when someone (whose opinion you value) makes impartial recommendations it is fantastic.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Yes, it does seem like every paranormal book out there is for vampires… but not mine 🙂 Yay!

  4. booklady said:

    I’m getting a bit sick of vampires myself–and I even enjoyed the Twilight series, Blue Bloods, and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. But they seem to be everywhere now. I suspect they’re making way for zombies/body snatchers, which I’m starting to see bits of–including in Stephenie Meyer’s new book, Host.

    Oh, and “Fields of Gold”. Love that one.

  5. Ernest said:

    Do Alice Sebold’s ALMOST MOON and Ann Patchett’s RUN also count as upmarket literary (women’s) fiction? or just general literary fiction?

  6. Just_Me said:

    The image of an editor spontaneously combusting because of yet another vampire manuscript is beyond entertaining.

    I’ll tuck the thought away for November when I’m desperate to make a NaNo word count 🙂

    While you’re in NY picking brains (er- no zombie pun intended) can you poke a few sci-fi and science-fantasy editors and see what’s been done to death? I don’t write chic lit or literary, and it can only be called romance if you squint real hard and are slightly snookered when you read…. sci-fi is wide open for all sorts of ideas, but there is a lot of competition and I admit I can’t read all of it.

    I hope you enjoyed the park!

  7. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,
    I just wanted to say thank you for all the great information that you share with us. I look forward to reading your blog every day.
    I wanted to share something with you and all your readers and I hope you don’t mind me posting here.
    It has to do with a very brave young girl that lives in Toronto and spent some time at Toroto Sick Kids Hospital.
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    All this from a nine year old girl.

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    Kristin As I said before I hope you don’t mind me posting here. If it is a problem you can just delete the thread, (I won’t be offended)

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  8. Anonymous said:

    Call me a cynic, but I don’t think it matters what editors CLAIM they want. They know it when they see it, not BEFORE they see it.

    Because, really, how many editors say “I want this type of book” and find it? If they do they are reacting to the market, not creating the new trends within it.

    I want an editor that wants my writing, not a “type” of book. because then they won’t want the next book you write, they’ll be searching for the next “type” that intrigues them.

  9. Anonymous said:

    I’ve done a few ghosts, too, Bernita.

    Of course I thought they were alive at the beginning of the date, but I was wrong.

  10. Kate said:

    The Sonnet Lover and The Virgin of Small Plains both look like mystery/suspense from the summaries. What makes these novels women’s fiction instead of those other genres?

  11. Anonymous said:

    Well, I guess there’s no time like the present to stretch that literary muscle. Better pull me some books off the libarary shelf and get a-readin’ as soon as #1’s ready to go.

    Many Thanks,

    Rachel Glass

  12. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    As someone who’s always written and read YA contemporary fantasy, I have to say that I really start to chafe when someone tells me they’re writing a YA urban or contemporary fantasy and then haven’t read any of them.

    IMHO, if you want to keep your submission fresh and make sure editors aren’t going to be turning it down as too similar — KNOW YOUR GENRE! Get out there and read. Sheesh.

    Sorry. Pet peeve. SERIOUS pet peeve!

  13. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, thanks for this advice. I think it’s important for all writers to listen to the voice of experience, like yours, when it comes to these things. I for one took it very seriously, as I take all of your posts. You’re my agent hero.

  14. Anonymous said:

    The Sonnet Lover and The Virgin of Small Plains both look like mystery/suspense from the summaries. What makes these novels women’s fiction instead of those other genres?

    Calling Small Plans “women’s fiction” confused me too. Yes, it’s beautifully written, but I believe it’s truly a mystery/suspense novel. In addition to being marketed that way, it won (or was nominated for) a bunch of mystery awards.

    I love suspense, so I’ll have to check out The Sonnet Lover.