Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sometimes It Is Just About Timing

I know I am not the only agent who has experienced it before, but it is something we have to remind ourselves of every now and then. This is a business of hurry up and wait. This is also a business, where time really is an issue. It takes time to get things done.

This is also a business where persistence pays off. No, this is not just random submissions over and over again until something sticks. This persistence is a constant learning and growing. That first project might not work out (or even the second one), but at some point, things will fall your direction and the way you have always wanted.

Yesterday was just one of those days. I have been working with this one author now since I signed her after the Denver RWA conference. Yesterday, when I spoke to an editor, we had an offer on the table. This was not just the standard book deal which I expected, but a great multi-book contract and the chance to work with the senior editor! Now that was a win.

For another author, we just signed a 9 book deal. Here is the kicker. Other authors had only been getting smaller contracts and we really did not see that one coming.

Then we add in Helen Lacey. Last year we got this great call that launched one of her books into a movie! Again, it was being in the right place at the right time. Get this movie now! It's great!

As I said, I am not the only person who has seen this. I recently saw a post by a fellow agent who was talking about her successes and noted the months it took to get some projects to a contract stage.

I know there is a desire to get things done now and have things go the way we want them every time. That is the nature of this world we live in with immediate gratification. But keep reminding yourself about needing the time to get things to happen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tropes ARE NOT The Story

I had a question from an author regarding tropes. Essentially, she was trying to write for a particular Harlequin line and continually found that her stories were getting rejected because the stories were not unique. She was struggling to understand how to make the stories unique and still fit the particular line.

In her case, her writing was "trope dependent." In other words, instead of creating a story that used tropes as small elements and plot devices within the story, she was building a story around that particular trope. For example, if we have a hidden baby trope, that should be just one small element that appears somewhere in the middle of your story about the hero and heroine who have other conflicts they are working through. The hidden baby element becomes the "straw that broke the camel's back."

This is really an issue many authors face when they are trying to see what is selling in the current market. They focus exclusively on plot, ignore either how those plots are being constructed, how the characters are being used, or even the voice.

What we are looking for is how you, as an author can bring your unique voice to the story, while at the same time, find a way to use those plots and common themes the publishers are looking for.

Friday, November 15, 2019

You Don't "JUST" Write Romance

I was watching Jeopardy last night and one of the questions was..."One of the most prolific authors of all time, Barbara Cartland wrote more than 600 books in this genre." James Holzhauer answered correctly with romance. But here is the thing. When he answered, he snickered saying romance.I don't know if he snickered because HE knew Cartland read romance, or he snickered because who would ever think someone such as he would ever know anything about the romance genre, or because the answer was simply romance. Regardless, it sort of upset me.

I have been a proponent of the romance and women's fiction genre since I opened the agency in 2003. This is a great genre, one that has and will stand the test of time. It is also a genre that takes a lot more skill to write than general fiction because the human emotions, relationships and connections have to be real and authentic. Unfortunately, too many people have always turned their noses up at people who write "just" romance. Even romance authors, when asked what they write, will often find ways around it by claiming "women's fiction" or calling it by just the genre such as "I write historical fiction." Many of these authors come across as almost being ashamed of writing romance. Some even go so far as saying, "Oh, I just write romance."


Romance is a genre! Romance is not just some "bodice ripper" but a true reflection of the human condition. Romance is also one of the top selling genres out there.

Look authors! Romance is not something to be snickered at like our wonderful James Holzhauer did, whether intentionally or unintentionally. If you are an author of romance, declare it loud and proud today (and every day)!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Remember The Joy Of Writing

I always like to remind people of this every now and then. When you first started writing and telling stories, the odds are you did it out of complete personal pleasure. You would immerse yourself in the lives of your characters. You didn't worry about anything except for telling the story. Once people become focused on making this a career, sometimes that joy disappears.

If you find yourself struggling with your latest work in progress, you have to take yourself back to that time when writing was fun. No, this does not mean to write with a wild abandon and not caring if the story was good or not. Just try to remember that pure pleasure.

One of the biggest issues I see with writers and projects that just are not that amazing, is that they spent too much time trying to force the story into doing the right thing. They spent countless hours trying to craft the right phrase, the right scene or the right transition. In the end, they came up with something, but in reality, it probably was not the right thing. The reason, they forced the story.

Look, I get that you will have deadlines to meet and editor or agent obligations. There is a pressure to produce and always do so at a high level once you become a professional writer. But, when we force a story it will come across as forced.

So, when you find yourself in this situation, step back for a bit. No, I am not talking days but a few minutes. Run an errand, clean a room, have a snack, walk the dog. Do something to distract you for a bit from that scene and that stumbling block. Now, while you are taking that break, send your mind back to do those days of writing for pure fun. I promise, the answers will appear, you will be in a better place and the writing will be good!