In Part One of this series, I mentioned briefly the importance of knowing the markets to which you submit. If you are an aspiring romance novelist sending your work to a publisher where the bread and butter is paid for by hard science fiction, chances are you are not going to have much luck.
As the publisher for the romance imprint of a small press, I can tell you right now that if a query letter and synopsis doesn't remotely fit our guidelines, chances are the time I'll devote to reading the actual work will be wasted. In an industry where time is constantly of the essence - evaluating stories, meeting deadlines - mine is too precious to give to an author who isn't certain where his or her work belongs. Other the other side of the coin, an author who submits incorrectly will waste time wondering and worrying about the fate of the book. Therefore, it is strongly advised that, as an author, you do your homework and save us both the anxiety.
This next installment covers a similar topic, where the author does have a grasp on the market but not a tight one.
2) But they do have sex. . . on page 600.
The romance genre of fiction is likely one of the most diverse in all of commercial fiction. Romance can be crossed with just about any other genre imaginable, from science fiction to historicals, mystery to fantasy. There are romance imprints that cater to the African-American market, gay and lesbian readers, and fans of vampires and various undead. Between the top New York publishers and the smaller eBook publishers where followings continue to grow, it is estimated that several hundred romance novels are published each month.
My realm is a growing sub-genre in e-dom: erotic romance. Here the sex just melts right off the keyboard. Naughty words are used to describe naughty bits, and depending upon the heat level and flamboyance of the author you could be reading literally 200 pages of pure unadulturated whoopie. How is this not *** . Well, that depends upon one's definition of *** ography, but I can tell you we classify *** as endless strings of explicit sex scenes presented without benefit of plot. We see erotic romance as a story enhanced by its eroticism, but not wholly defined by it. Most romances have the HEA (happily ever after) ending, and in our cases if the story can stand up without the sex it is well worth a look.
Of course, there must be sex, and lots of it. When a reader buys a work labeled as erotic romance, it is to be expected that the hero and heroine are going to get it one, and rather quickly. In a chair, on the stairs, on a boat in a moat, in Terre Haute. . .in every position that doesn't cause leg cramps. There are times, however, I will receive a wonderful love story for one of our lines that is passionate and warm and does contain sex, just not enough to satisfy my readers. This leads us to item number two on our list: KNOW THE GENRE.
If you are interested in a specific genre where your writing is concerned, know the basics of that genre. If you want to write erotic romance, know the proper elements involved. Read the erotic romances being published by the top print publishers and eBook houses - Kensington's Aprhodosia, Harlequin's Spice, etc. If you are interested in mystery, read up on the top sellers and know the fundamentals of a good story - conflict, clues, resolution. A book touted as erotic romance that contains only one graphic sex scene in 200 printable pages will not suit the Aprhodosia's of the world, nor will a whodunnit where nobody really knows “who" work for the top mystery publisher.
This may sound like preaching to the choir, but I wouldn't advise this if I didn't receive works that didn't suit our genre. To write the genre is to know the genre, to read the genre, and to know what the publisher wants.
Kathryn Lively is publisher of Phaze, erotic romance in eBook and paperback formats. She offers free SEO advice to authors who promote online.