The CTRWA December Meeting included a fabulous Christmas party and fun naughty/nice grab bag. Awesome event!
In terms of chapter news, newsletter submissions and the January mentoring program were discussed. Specifically how articles in the newsletter can be picked up by other chapters and improve your visibility. The mentoring program will rotate in January.
CT Fiction Fest (http://ctrwa.org/ignite-your-muse/) is coming up in May and there is an AMAZING lineup of agents and editors for pitching. Speakers are also top-notch so this is an event to attend if you are in the New England/New York area.
Our guest speaker was Sourcebooks editor Deb Weksman. Her overview of Sourcebooks included how they are an independent publisher who does their own marketing and focuses on building careers for their authors. Ms. Weksman acquires for romance and fiction. Sourcebooks publishes about 350 titles a year, half of which are fiction.
Submission guidelines are found on the Sourcebooks website and include a cover letter, synopsis, and full manuscript. Generally, she takes 6-8 weeks to respond to a query. For her, clear nos are the easiest. She will read until she is clear on whether or not she wants to publish the work. She equated herself with a midwife for books. Sometimes it’s an elephant pregnancy, but she is a firm believer in nurturing her authors.
Sourcebooks is known for its marketing and PR muscle.
She noted that 1/2 to 1/3 of the titles acquired by her come in via the slush pile. 2/3 to 3/4 of her authors are agented, including those who get an agent after the fact.
- Submissions come in via email.
- Within 20 days, she will confirm having received it.
- The submission is logged in and some are flagged as a priority depending on different factors such as a great title. Her assistant may also read submissions and if something excites her it can be flagged as a priority.
She loves to read submissions and takes them home with her.
Her general criteria for submissions include:
- 90,000 words (anything over 100,000 points to a potential pacing issue)
- Romance fiction
- Heroine is relatable–reader has to imagine self
- Emotionally satisfying ending
- Good hook
- Career arc of writer–she prefers not to do a contract for one book (what if writer can’t replicate uniqueness of first book?)
She mentioned that it is important to pick a genre to build your brand within. Pseudonyms are important for branding across genres.
With branding, heat level is also branded. You can’t suddenly reduce the number of pickles in a McDonald’s burger or the amount of sex/love scenes in your books.
Synopsis is essential, but she does not evaluate writing quality of synopsis. Instead, she is looking at the whole story arc.
A question was asked about middle-aged protagonists in romance genre. She pointed out that although 12-year-olds read up and want 17-year-old protagonists, the core adult market is 31-49 and most 40-somethings like to imagine self at 30.
Writers need to be honest in assessing the time it takes them to produce a good manuscript. Not just a first draft, but something that has gone through critiques/editing. Never overpromise to an editor. The editor is your champion and probably the only other person in the world who cares about your book as much as you do. Keep in mind that missed deadlines have a domino effect throughout the publishing house.
In terms of marketing, Sourcebooks does several things, including:
- Releases ARCs 5 months ahead of time
- Group ads in RT
- E-book promotions so that release at the same time as in print and across all e-book platforms
- Pay for space on the New Release Table at Borders
In terms of query letters, it’s important to tell how the story differs from other stories and how the character is relatable.
A pitch is not a plot summary. Tell her why it will sell.
By the end of the meeting, she had requested a couple submissions based on query letters read and pitches given during our meeting. Talk about an awesome Christmas present. 🙂