Friday, December 11, 2009
MAKING A SALE IN THE NEW YEAR
By Debby Giusti
Thank you for inviting me to Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. You gals have created a fun blog community that is attracting interest in the writing world. Marketing guru, Seth Godin, in his book, TRIBES, talks about the far-reaching effectiveness of interactive online sites to generate sales for a particular product. Your product is the written word. People—including editors—are, no doubt, watching. The buzz you’ve created on the blog will lead to success with your submissions as well.
True story…in 2005, I banded together with fourteen other hopeful inspirational writers seeking publication. We call ourselves The Seekers, and since we’re spread across the country, we keep in touch on a yahoo loop. Two years ago, we decided to reach out to other writers on the road to publication and started our Seekerville blog, www.seekerville.blogspot.com.
Initially, our focus was on contests, but we eventually spread our wings and now interview editors, agents and best-selling authors and feature information on a wide range of publishing topics. The goal is for all the Seekers to get off our fictional “upubbed island” with a sale. Many Christian editors visit our site on a regular basis, and one even requested a submission when she was guest blogging.
To date, eleven Seekers have received The Call, and the others are close, with full manuscripts sitting on editors’ desks. I wish the same success for all of you, which brings me to today’s topic: Writing category books to achieve that first sale.
Shortly after I joined Georgia Romance Writers, I took Nancy Knight’s workshop, Once Begun is Half Done, at Arts Station in Stone Mountain, GA. As most of you know, Nancy is a fantastic teacher and encourager. She suggested I write what I know, and I took her words to heart.
As an Army wife, I had spent two years with my hubby at the National Training Center in the middle of the Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin, CA. The training area is as large as the state of Rhode Island, and maneuver units—tank and mechanized infantry battalions, cavalry squadrons and support units--trained in the grueling and dangerous environment on twenty-two day rotations. The man I love headed the Armor Task Force that put the visiting units through massive battles and provided minute-by-minute feedback and evaluation. Hubby and his men were only home four days between each rotation, and the schedule never varied so life was challenging for the military and their families as well.
When we left the desert, I wanted to capture the essence of that unique two-year assignment and set my first suspense at the NTC. I killed a general and wove a web of corruption that spread from the Mojave Desert to Forces Command Headquarters in Atlanta.
Needing to find a home for my newly penned manuscript, I attended my first M&M conference. An agent requested the story, and I thought my career was ready to explode. Of course, I had a lot to learn and was soon rejected.
Four manuscripts followed--all single title suspense. Although I received positive rejections, I eventually realized 100,000 words was too broad a scope. I needed to focus on a basic love story between a hero and heroine. My next manuscript was a category-length romantic suspense targeted for Harlequin Intrigue.
About the time I completed the story, then Steeple Hill senior editor Krista Stroever spoke at a GRW meeting and talked about the Love Inspired Suspense line. After the meeting, a few of us pitched, and Krista said she’d like to take a look at my partial, if I added a faith arc.
Once I incorporated inspirational elements into my work, I realized I’d found my genre. To test the effectiveness of my new direction, I entered three contests where Steeple Hill editors were the final round judges. I won the contests, received requests from each judge and before long the telephone rang. Krista wanted to buy my story.
With my sixth Love Inspired Suspense out this month, I know switching from mainstream to category was a good decision for me.
So what’s my point? For those of you writing single title books, if you are receiving good rejections letters and getting to the final round in contests but not making a sale, consider switching to category romance. The word count is short, the focus is on a powerful love story between the hero and heroine and secondary characters and subplots are kept to a minimum.
Bring the hero and heroine together in an action-packed opening and have the sparks fly. Create opposing goals and load on the conflict. Let the black moment seem hopeless and add a climax that has the readers—and the editors--on the edge of their seats. End with a happily ever after that leaves them yearning to read more. By focusing on the two main characters, you’ll identify weaknesses in your manuscript that can easily be strengthened and end up with a story that sizzles.
Another advantage to category books is the built-in readership and low price point. Distribution is great, and many lines have book clubs that increase sales numbers, especially for debut authors just starting out.
I’ll be online throughout the day so let’s talk about your writing and what you plan to accomplish in the New Year. My hope is that 2010 includes a sale for each of you.
Leave a comment and your email address to be entered into a drawing for CHRISTMAS PERIL.
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Need stocking stuffers for friends and family?
CHRISTMAS PERIL is on sale now, featuring two action-packed stories: Merry Mayhem by Margaret Daley and Yule Die by Debby Giusti.
Here’s a peak at Debby’s Magnolia Medical novella:
It’s hardly a happy holiday for medical researcher Callie Evans…until she discovers her ailing patient is her long-lost brother. And he’s being watched by undercover police officer Joe Petrecelli. When the trio is abducted by a cadre of bad guys, Joe and Callie will have to fight to keep her brother—and themselves—alive.