Tag Archives: publishing trends

When saying “no” is a good thing…

Just as an aside, I am a member of an on-line chapter in my RWA organization, the Contemporary Romance Writers. Since this is what I write, it makes sense I’m a member, no? Hee hee.

CRWA has a blog that many of the members contribute to, including myself,  and the other day a new post was presented that I swear on everything that’s holy was written exactly for me. I  know it wasn’t – but it really could have been, because it was posted at a time when I was struggling with whether or not to compromise something I’d written just in order for it to be sold.

This is the post :Its’s Okay to Say No, written by  author Brighton Walsh. The gist of the article is that you should never say a yes when you’re feeling a no to a writing situation. As an author – and still one who is relatively unknown – this hit home for me. Hard.

Let me e’splain it Lucy….

I received a phone call – yes, really A phone call, not an email!!! from someone in the publishing industry the other day to whom I’d cold-sent a new manuscript proposal. (Cold sent  is what over the transom means nowadays. It’s basically an unsolicited email about a manuscript). This person called me and was utterly professional, very forthcoming and sincere, and really, really lovely and nice as he/she went about telling me everything that was wrong with my proposal and how I had to change it to make it something he/she could even consider worthwhile to try and sell. Everything from my character names, to their professions, even the plot arc of the book series was “weak” and cliched and needed to be tightened up. I was told that if I wanted to make all those changes  and did – I could feel free to send along the new proposal and manuscript for re-review.

So here are the emotions that went barreling through me at that call: ( in order of their appearance!)

  • thrilled to have been called and not summarily sent a form email
  • nervous
  • hopeful
  • anxious
  • doubting myself as a writer
  • depressed
  • flummoxed

When the call ended I seriously don’t think I took a breath for a few moments.

Here’s the thing: I lovelovelove the story I wrote. truly. It’s got one of my favorite heroine/hero couples that I’ve ever written and every point in the story from their careers to the story arc is exactly how I wanted their story to unfold.

But this in-the-know person in the industry was saying if I made these changes the book might have a chance of being sold to a publisher.

See my dilemma?

Was I willing to change almost everything I’d written with the story just on the slim marginal chance it would be published? Was I willing to sacrifice a storyline and an entire series plot arc, rename characters and change their professions, just to get the story published? Was I willing to abandon all that I’d written and tailor-make it to someone else’s specifications inorder for my words to see print commercially?

I seriously gave myself a stomach and headache that afternoon from all the angst ripping through me.

And then I saw the new CRWA blog post.

After reading it, it was as if the sky had opened up and was shining after a downpour had moved through and darkened it. A little dramatic, but true. I was able to breathe again. My headache disappeared and my stomach pains went the way of the dinosaur. My decision has been made and I think you can guess what it was.

I’ve been talking a great deal about angels lately and how I think they are surrounding me and sending me messages almost daily. I truly believe that blog post was something I was meant to read and learn from. And, just BTW, it’s a really good blog post! You should read it because it can be interpreted for way more things than just writing.

The power of saying No to something that just doesn’t feel right deep down in  your soul, is an amazing sensation.  As women we need to learn to do that more often, especially if saying yes means we have to compromise our integrity. As writers, new and even established, no is a word that doesn’t get said enough.

If my story never gets sold commercially, that will be okay with me, because with all the options of self publishing available these days, I know I could release it on my own.

The power of NO. It’s, as Martha says,  a Good Thing.

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Thoughts…

In May, the movie BOOK CLUB was released. It starred 4 of my favorite actresses of a certain age, my absolute fav being Candice Bergen. The plot dealt with 4 women all over the age of 50 ( way over!) and their attitudes towards aging, their bodies, their sex lives ( or lack of such) and society’s views, in general, about romance, romantic love, and yes, SEX, after the age of 40.

And just who exactly decided 40 was the cut off for all things romance? Just askin’.

Any hoo. The writing was fab, the jokes, although sometimes raunchy, always spot-on, and the dialogue was like listening to people I know speak to one another. In other words, the movie spoke to me.

The reason I’m writing this post isn’t as a review of the movie or a request to rent it – although you should! No. After watching the movie I began to think about the romance publishing industry overall, and how it can be a little insular for its writers.

Case in point – all the talk of the lack of diversity this year. I’m not going into depth on this point, but do some research and you’ll see why I’m applauding all the AOC ( authors of color) who are FINALLY being given a rightful seat at the table and a voice. It’s been a long time coming and still has a loooooooong way to go before true equity, equality, and financial parity, but 2018 has certainly been the beginning of the journey.

Diversity encompasses more than just color and ethnicity in my opinion, though. There is a decided mood of AGEISM in the romance publishing world. Whoever decided  40 was the age cutoff for heroes and heroines in romances  in order for the book to be successful or even published should be made public so the writers – such as myself – who are over this age can confront him/her and give them a good, hard dose of reality.

I am 58 years old. I have never been shy about admitting my age because, a. I’m proud I was able to live to it(!) and b. I think I look pretty good. I know I certainly feel good. Vibrant. Healthy. And when I say healthy I mean in all aspects:  medically, physically, spiritually and yes, SEXUALLY! And since I am medically sound, physically well, spiritually intact, I do, therefore HAVE SEX.

Okay. No more capital letters. You get what I’m writing about.

The traditional romance publishing industry seems to be loathe to publish any stories where the main characters, the hero and heroine, are 50 years plus. I don’t know the actual reason, but I bet it’s based on two things: money and the “eeww” factor.

Money first. Publishing, like all businesses, runs on the ability to bring money in, in essence, to make a profit. So far, the romance books that have been released into the book reading world have mostly been about main characters below the age of 40 because these sell. But…Baby Boomers and the generation that came after them are now all in their 50’s 60’s and 70’s. And they read. A lot. Why, in an industry where money is king, publishers haven’t tried to tap that market with age-appropriate romances is a mystery. I’d make a bet that if they did, the money would not only flow, it would increase exponentially.

The “eeww” factor is an easy one. No one likes to think of their parents or grandparents involved in a passionate love affair or having – God forbid and close my eyes – sex. Well, suck that up, buttercup, because how do you think you got here? You weren’t hatched. You weren’t found in a cabbage patch. You weren’t an immaculate conception because so far in history there’s only been one of those and you’re not it. You ancestors had sex. Your parents and grandparents are still having sex. Your grandparents and parents are ROMANTIC beings. Get over yourself and realize that.

The reason I am so fierce about this topic is because several years ago I was a judge in the annual RITA contest for RWA. I was assigned 9 contemporary romances to read by varying authors, all of whom I’d never heard of. Every book dealt with a heroine in her 20’s. Every. Single. Book. And they were obnoxious, self absorbed or whoa-is-me heroines. Pathetic. Right then and there I wondered if there were any books out there about women like me, my age, my temperament and with my concerns.

Here’s a hint: There weren’t.

Since then, several authors have started penning romance books for and about people over the age of 40, but these authors have done so independently – the big five traditional publishing houses nowhere to be seen. That speaks volumes about how the industry feels about my generation.

If, like me, you are a woman of a certain age who enjoys reading and writing romances, do yourself and everyone else a favor and contemplate a more mature heroine/hero, possibly along the same age lines as yourself. And if you are an editor or an agent and reading this, first #blessyou(!) second, consider well written books about people who aren’t less than 40 years of age. People 40+ have the same concerns, problems, conflicts, and romances as those below it.

Okay, enough of the PSA for today. If you like reading romances about people over 40, these are my two favorite romance authors writing such: Judy Kentrus and Roxanne St. Claire.

If you’re a facebook girl you might want to check out the Seasoned Romance group on FB

And if you’re looking for me I’m either out writing a romance about a woman in her 50’s or here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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