Pub Rants

The Year Delay

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STATUS: I’m awake. Heck, that’s a good start to the day. I love being in NYC and doing appointments but it’s tough to be gone all day and then still keep up on all the work that needs to be attended to at night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Talking Heads

Most of you already know this but for the new readers who might not, this is what you need to keep in mind.

What editors bought last year are the projects that are hitting shelves now. That means if you have a project now that has similar elements to novels hitting the shelves, you’re too late. This is especially true in the world of romance (paranormal in particular) where the trends are pretty easy to spot and the market does shift within a year or two timeframe.

I had coffee with an editor at Dorchester yesterday afternoon. If you know anything about this house, they lean toward debut writers, the editors read a lot of slush on their own, and they don’t mind taking risks with new kinds of material.

This editor is even still open to dark, interesting paranormals but lately there has been a trend of demons being the new vampires.

Or instead of demons, we have dragons.

Folks, it’s not the paranormal element that makes your story fresh or original, it’s the amazing world you build within your paranormal romance that makes the difference. From the slush stuff Sara and I have seen lately, a lot of writers haven’t quite learned that distinction.

So what would this editor love to see?

1. Blends of historical with fantasy (C.L. Wilson’s LORD OF THE FADING LANDS did well—and was quite long to boot)

2. Urban fantasy with a strong romance.

What this editor has too much of?

1. Mystery romance

2. Romantic comedy or straight contemporary romance is a tough field for them (but I have heard that editors are looking for it at other houses so this might be a publisher-specific thing.)

I think what you should take away from all these posts of mine lately is that it’s good to know the market but ultimately don’t get overwhelmingly caught up into it.

I’ll tell you right now that if I found a new, exciting author with a fresh mystery/romance or a vampire paranormal, I could sell it if the story was original, amazing, and basically reinvented how we view the paranormal romance world.

And that’s the kicker. It would have to be just that good when the market is awash in vampire stories or what have you.

Make sense?

26 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Thanks, Kristen. I’ve always thought that if someone wrote another book about pursuing a white whale, but it was original, fresh and compelling, it could be sold. ‘Cause isn’t the most important thing the way the story is told, rather than the plot points?

  2. Anonymous said:

    I have a question for the commentors: In what genre would you classify a book that is mostly mainstream/commercial, but the main character has supernatural powers she rarely uses because she wants to succeed on her own?

    Think Holly Golightly meets Bewitched.

    Even nasty, but truthful, comments will be appreciated and taken seriously.

  3. Katie said:

    I think it makes sense… the thing is, I don’t have time to live my life, take care of my kids, write, AND read everything that’s out there to see if my story is different or not! It’s time-travel, but it takes place mostly in the present… the time-travel is more of an conflict element in the story, than a structure that carries the story, if that makes any sense.

    Is that typical? Is it unusual? I haven’t read any like that, but does that mean anything, when there are millions of books? I don’t know.

    All I can do is write the stories that I’m enjoying writing, and hope that maybe they’ll have an audience when I’m done.

  4. JulieLeto said:

    Anonymous 7:58…if it’s mainly mainstream fiction, then wouldn’t it be mainstream fiction, no matter what paranormal power is involved? Lovely Bones is just literary fiction and it’s paranormal in a sense, isn’t it?

  5. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Anonymous, mainstream commercial fiction.

    Also, CL Wilson’s LADY OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS did even BETTER than the first book, hitting the NYT list.

    I can’t wait to see what happens with the third and the fourth. But it’s important to note that Dorchester saw the potential in that book. It was not an “easy sell” for Wilson, and I bet people are kicking themselves now!

    (I’m a totally unabashed Tairen Soul fan.)

  6. Anonymous said:

    Clear as mud. ; ) No, perfect sense. I’m chanting as I walk away. . . fresh and original fresh and original. . .

    Not to sound like a broken record, but thanks again, your insight has helped me quite more than I would have thought possible.

    Many Thanks,

    Rachel Glass

  7. Kaleb said:

    I think the most important thing is to write what you like. JK Rowling wrote boy wizard stories when nobody was reading those. Stephenie Meyer wrote a vampire romance when absolutely nobody was reading those. So the trends really change because of authors who don’t write what is ‘in’ at the moment but write what they want, and write it very well.

  8. Carol Burge said:

    Hmmm, still no mention of what I write. Just curious. What do you think about Historical Westerns? Where do they stand in the industry, and would you be interested in a Historical Western?

  9. Anonymous said:

    Thanks for the input about the genre, guys. I thought M/C, too, but sometimes you’re so close you can’t be objective. And now that the wonderful Diana P. has confirmed it, I’m satisfied.

    thanks…anon @7:58

  10. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Stephenie Meyer wrote a vampire romance when absolutely nobody was reading those.

    Says who?

    When Twilight came out (10/2005), both adult romance and YA novels wer in the middle of a huge vampire explosion. Sherrilyn Kenyon and Christine Feehan were regularly making the bestseller list. JR Ward was already out. There were a ton of YA vampire stories as well. Atwater-Rhodes had been publishing for years. PEEPS was out. The list goes on and on. Vampires were ALL OVER. Meyer’s became extremely popular very quickly, but lots of people were and are publishing in that genre

  11. brenda said:

    Would you or Sara rep a traditional fantasy for teen boys if it was strong in character and action and filled with amazing world-building?

  12. Kimber An said:

    Fantasy/Historicals are quite popular with my younger gal-pals, and I can see why. They didn’t have them around when and where I grew up, so I get to enjoy them now, reviewing them.

  13. Kwana said:

    Kristen, I just wanted to say thanks. I have really been enjoying the adventures of you and Chutney in NY. You’re always so informative. Thanks so much.

  14. Anonymous said:

    Sorry if this is too off-topic, but I was wondering if Kristin would like to join in with the support for the Preditors & Editors website in this time of need, when it is facing lawsuits from Barbara Bauer (on the “worst 20 agents” list) and Publish America’s lawyer Vic.

  15. Writer Babs said:

    Diana, I don’t know what happened with Twilight. About a year ago, I was really in to YA vampire novels, and everyone thought I was a giant geek, and now everyone’s reading Twilight and its sequels and insisting “No, it’s DIFFERENT!” Kudos to Stephenie Meyer. I don’t know who her agent it, but I’m sure he or she is, but kudos to them too.

  16. Anonymous said:

    anon @2:34…where can I get more info on this? I hadn’t heard anything, and P&E has been a good site for me for a long time.

  17. Dave Shaw said:


    I’m sure it’s a business proposition. If a teen writes something that will sell, there’s an agent out there who will take him or her on. But just like with us old folks, you have to write something salable and then find that agent.

    I hope that helps. 🙂

  18. Anonymous said:

    Thanks, Kristin. I just found your agency site and your blog. What a resource for a starting-out writer.

    Could you please clarify what editors mean by “historical fantasy”? Is it somethign like the 12th century with dragons, vampires, magic, etc? Or does it include an alternative universe version of the 12th century — something like what Guy Gavriel Kay writes?