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Tough Sell

Tough Sell

I’ve learned some things lately. Things that aren’t encouraging to writers.   

  • Book sales on the whole are down. 

This is the first year I’ve heard this about the inspirational market since the Left Behind series launched. I guess the economy finally caught up with inspirational buyers. 

  • Contemporary Romance is a tough sell in a market glutted with Historicals and Amish. 

There’s always more popular genres than others. A few years ago, you couldn’t give away a Historical. Now contemporaries are on the downturn. Just go to your local bookstore and check out the shelves. How many contemporary romances do you find? 

  • Several longer length romance publishers aren’t releasing as many books as they once did and some are considering cutting lines. 

Most longer length contemporaries are general fiction with a romantic thread, family relationship geared, or women’s fiction, but not straight romance. A few years ago, these genres were a tough sell. Now they’re on the rise. Check out Publisher’s Weekly and see what’s selling. 

  • Publishers require published writers from other houses to submit completed manuscripts before offering a contract. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had several books published—unless you’ve hit the best-seller list. Unless you have your foot in the door with an editor, you might have to complete your manuscript before the contract gets signed. 

You can rail and whine, but it’s just the facts. So what can a writer do? 

  • Publishers are still looking for the next great writer or series to boost the market. 

Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep conferencing. Keep honing. It’s frustrating, but if you’re going to be a writer, prepare for a life of frustration. Even after you’re published. 

  • If you’re gearing toward a specific publisher, write the book for their line or house. 

Don’t tweak a previously written novel to fit a certain line. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And the editor won’t fall for it. 

  • If you write contemporary romance, consider writing for Heartsong Presents or Love Inspired. 

LI is still buying—lots of contemporaries. But remember, if you submit, study the guidelines carefully, read one of their latest releases, and write the book specifically for the line. 

HP is full for 2012, but they will be buying again. Now owned by Harlequin, after 2012, HP’s will be bookclub only. No stores and no 3 in 1’s for the Romancing America line—which is still owned by Barbour. But with Harlequin, the bookclub is bigger. Again study the guidelines and read some HP’s before submitting. 

  • If you write longer length contemporary romance, consider adding more layers and threads to your story so that it might fit general fiction, relationship, or women’s fiction. 

But don’t just pump up the word count. Make sure your story has depth. Read some books in these genres. And if it’s not your thing, don’t do it. It will show and again, the editor won’t fall for it. Be patient. Eventually, the market will shift and contemporaries will be the hot genre again. 

  • Buckle down and finish the book, whether you’re published or not. 

If you’re not published, it’s always been a given that you had to have a completed manuscript. If you’re published and established with a particular line, you can sell on proposal. If you’re established with a particular line, you can submit a proposal to other houses, but you might have to complete the book before you get a contract. So finish the book, so if they like the proposal, you’re good to go. 

  • Continue to work on your web presence. 

Publishers look at your website, Facebook, and Twitter these days to see how well you’re marketing yourself, even before you’re published. 

The bad news.

  • Publishing is tough business and not for the faint of heart.

Write the best book you can write with a specific publisher. Publishers you’ve studied and read their books.

The good news.

  • Dreams do still come true for writers. Everyday.

So if it’s really your dream, don’t give it up. Patience + Persistence = Publication.







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