Friday, February 27, 2009

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Susan Palmquist of the Between the Lines blog interviews me about Ellora's Cave authors and readers, what EC is looking for in submissions, erotic romance in general, and the popularity of ebooks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Editors Answer - #2

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Ava has some questions about the use of pen names.

Should an author who is using a pseudonym sign their query letter with both their real name and the pen name? (ie Jane Doe writing as Suzy Screamsalot)

What then is the protocol if one's work is accepted? Does the editor refer to the author using their pen name in correspondence or their real name?

Yes, your query letter or submission should indicate both real name and pen name. Please never provide only your pen name.

The editor is normally "talking" to the real you, and so would likely address you by your real name. But this can vary with each relationship. The author may prefer to be called by her pen name. Or if the author's real identity is a deep secret, both editor and author may prefer to use the pen name to prevent any slip of identity confidentiality.

A related issue: The publisher may ask you to use a different pen name than the one you originally listed, especially if you are not previously published under that pen name in this genre. Your pen name may conflict with an existing author at that publisher, or may be a name the publisher feels is ineffective or downright bad. It's amazing how many aspiring erotic romance authors pick ridiculous pen names that sound like a porn star or are just sickeningly "cutesy".

Do you have a question about the publishing process - submission through release and after - that you've always wanted to ask? Send it to, and we'll give you the benefit of our shared wisdom.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Please reject me"
by Jofie Ferrari-Adler

This very lengthy Publishers Weekly article is an interview with young New York agents Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Renee Zuckerbrot, and Daniel Lazar. You can read the whole thing online, but here's my favorite little section.

Tell me ten things in the query process that can make you want to reject something immediately.

ZUCKERBROT: When I get an e-mail that says, "Dear Agent..." and I can see that I'm one of seventy agents who got it.
KLEINMAN: Bad punctuation, bad spelling, and passive voice.
BARER: Is it wrong of me to say that handwritten letters make me uncomfortable? Does that make me ageist?
LAZAR: Writers who will have a lawyer send you something "on their behalf." It's ridiculous, and you also can't get a sense of the author's voice, which is what the letter's all about.
ZUCKERBROT: When people talk about whom they would cast in the movie version of the book. I received three of those this week!
BARER: Anything that says something like, "This is going to be an enormous best-seller, and Oprah's going to love it, and it will make you millions of dollars."
KLEINMAN: Desperation is always good. "I've been living in a garage for the past sixty years. Nobody will publish my book. You have to help me."
BARER: I love it when they tell me why nobody else has taken it on—when they tell me why it's been so unsuccessful.
ZUCKERBROT: Or they've come close and they will include an explanation of who else has rejected it and why. "Julie Barer and Jeff Kleinman said..."
LAZAR: If they're writing a children's book, they'll often say, "My children love this book."
BARER: Right! I don't care if your children, your mother, or your spouse love it. All of that means nothing to me.
KLEINMAN: When it's totally the wrong genre. When they send me a mystery or a western or poetry or a screenplay.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Informative Links

Some interesting articles on other blogs:

Definitions for the Perplexed - Editorial Anonymous

For the last several days, this editor has been explaining some of the common terms in the print production process: Cast-off, galleys, ARCs, proofs, PPB, ISBN, F&Gs, advances (the copies, not the money), CMYK.

Attitude Matters - Jessica Faust, BookEnds LLC

Yet another explanation on why you as an author need to maintain a professional attitude and actions. In the current industry move to reduce releases, when it comes to deciding which of several midlist authors with comparable sales figures to keep or cut, the editor's decision can indeed be influenced by the author's professional behavior, both publicly and with their editor/publisher.

Tales from the slush pile - editor Leah Hultenschmidt, Romantic Reads

She lists a couple of submission mistakes that are pet peeves of mine, too.

Is Romance a Four-Letter Word? - Seren's Scribblings

What do you say to people who disparage romance novels? Or how do you recommend one to a non-romance reader?

Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing
By Motoko Rich; Published: January 4, 2009

This is a very good explanation of some of the basics of finances and costs in the industry.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Editors Answer - #1

An interesting question from Rachel:

I have written two manuscripts set in the same universe/world. They do not share any major characters, settings, or plotlines; however a secondary character from the first story appears in brief but significant role in the second. Is it bad form to submit the two manuscripts to different publishers? I'm in the midst of the 'waiting to hear back' period for the first manuscript. I'd like to start the process for the second. Should it go to the first publisher as a second unrelated submission or can it go to another publisher?

Advice from our editors is to stay with the same publisher:

How long have you been waiting for a response on your first submission? If a long time, query to ask about status, and indicate you've written a related book. Does the publisher to whom you sent the first book permit simultaneous submissions? If so, you could submit that first book elsewhere.

I'd wait on feedback from the first book before submitting the second. If the first is accepted, you most definitely should give that publisher first option on the second book. And if the first is rejected, you may get advice that will help you improve the second book.

As an editor, I'd be worried about keeping up consistency within the world. What if one publisher decided to make a change to what certain things were called, and the other publisher didn't. It would make whoever released the second book look bad, and the author too.

Should both be accepted, the author is going to be in trouble about what to do next. And I'd be betting some pubs would not accept on the grounds that "their" character may end up with a competitor.

Having a series split between two publishers makes it more difficult for the author to promote, and makes the publisher less inclined to kick in marketing money or support.

An editor thinking of it from a reader's perspective:

Speaking as one who LOVES continuation stories, I’d say no. Nothing worse than trying to track down a story from another publisher when I’ve read the first one with publisher A. Publisher B may not have the book in print, but only ebook. Or it is a different size.

Do you have a question about the publishing process - submission through release and after - that you've always wanted to ask? Send it to, and we'll give you the benefit of our shared wisdom.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Florida Romance Writers conference

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Several weeks ago I was at the Fun in the Sun conference put on by the Florida Romance Writers. This was one of the most relaxing conferences I've attended. There was so much time for casual conversation, general schmoozing! That networking can be one of the best benefits of a writer conference.

Aleka Nakis did an incredible job of organizing the conference, making sure everything ran smoothly. I am in awe of how much she had to organize and manage. My special thanks also go to Lyn Armstrong, who picked me up from the airport, shuttled me around, took me to lunch, and generally made me feel very welcome.

The attendees were incredibly friendly and talkative, great people to be with. I loved my meal companions, including the lovely lady who told me how sweet I was. And then there was the multipublished romance and mystery author who seemed completely stunned and flattered when I mentioned that I read her books. Hey, don't be so modest, lots of us are appreciating them in order for you to be getting those nice sales figures. And I always enjoy hearing author pitches, including the "informal" ones.

This conference was especially good for me from the perspective of interactions with editors and agents. Boy, get a group of us together and talking, and it can be eye-opening for authors and aspiring authors. The editor/agent panel turned into some enlightening discussions amongst those of us on the panel, which I hope was insightful for the attendees. (Plus I learned fun facts about everyone else and added a few books to my TBB list.)

Then there was the casual lunch gathering where all us editors were giving poor Adam Wilson from Harlequin our opinions on the titles and covers of Harlequin category stories. He took it in very good spirits and even contributed some of his favorites. I knew that Harlequin does studies comparing title words and sales figures, and now I've learned that Billionaire title books actually do sell better than Milliionaires.

Holly Root of the Waxman Agency was an entertaining and personable dinner companion, knowledgeable about the business, lots of funny stories. It was a great pleasure for me to chat with other e-publishers about our business -- Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press and Jessica Berry and Leigh Collett (oh dear, I'm so bad with names--do I have the right person?) of Resplendence Publishing.

Oh, and did I mention that this conference took place on the Navigator of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Writing Contest - NEORWA

by Raelene Gorlinsky

In a moment of total insanity over a year ago, I agreed to chair the writing contest for my local RWA chapter. Boy, I had NO idea what I was getting into! But hey, now that we have it underway, I think I've got a handle on this (or else my insanity is now including delusions).

Northeast Ohio Romance Writers

We’re now paperless—entries and responses all electronic.
Deadline to enter is June 1st, 2009.

All entrants receive first-round judges’ scores and comments. Finalists receive a 1-page critique from the judging editor/agent. Winners receive refund of entry fee and winner logo graphic.
See our website for detailed rules and contest entry form.

2009 Categories and Editor/Agent Judges

Contemporary Series/Category Romance: Brenda Chin, Harlequin
Single Title Romance: Susan Yates, The Wild Rose Press
Erotic Romance: Kelli Kwiatkowski, Ellora’s Cave
First Declaration of Love: Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora’s Cave/Cerridwen Press
Historical Romance: Rose Hilliard, St. Martin’s Press
Mainstream with Romantic Elements: Diane Parkinson, The Wild Rose Press
Paranormal Romance: Ethan Ellenberg, Ellenberg Literary Agency
Romantic Suspense: Christine Witthohn, Book Cents Literary Agency
Young Adult: Danielle Poisz, Pocket Books
Due to the publishing market, editors are subject to change without notice.

Contest Rules

Entrants must be unpublished in book-length fiction (minimum 40,000 words) in the last five years.

Actual computer word count is used for all entries and contest categories.
Submit the first 6000 to maximum 7000 words, to a clear story break (such as a chapter break). A synopsis is optional; if you choose to include one, it may be no longer than 750 words, is not counted as part of the entry, and is unjudged.

“First Declaration of Love” category: Scene where the main protagonists first declare their love to each other. Maximum 500 words.

Entry must be in DOC or RTF format, and emailed as an attachment to Each entry must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form/Contestant's Agreement.

Fee: $25.00 ($15.00 for NEORWA Chapter members or contest judges)
“First Declaration of Love” category: If scene is from same manuscript entered in another category, there is an additional fee of only $8. If entering in this category only, regular fee is applicable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ask the Editors

Time to open ourselves up again to whatever you want to throw at us! (Uh, questions, not rotten tomatoes, please.)

Do you have a question about the publishing process - submission through release and after - that you've always wanted to ask? Send it to, and we'll give you the benefit of our shared wisdom. Just remember that every publisher and editor is different - YMMV.