Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Editors' Panel

It is the start of writer’s conference season. I was out to at least 5 of the big conferences last year, plus I had other travel that kept me going almost once a month. Many reasons went into deciding to attend only one conference this year — stay close to the office to catch up on proposals already on hand and be fully available to Susan and JoAnne; tighten my travel budget; avoid motion sickness; and catch up on a ton of weekend projects around home. (I almost have my bathroom remodeling done. Wahoo!) So, I only plan to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, September 20-23. (I wasn’t counting a special guest appearance next week at a university in Indiana.)

If I were at a conference with you, I would most likely be sitting on an editor’s panel, answering questions about what I’m currently looking to buy in fiction. My needs for full-length fiction really haven’t changed in the last year. I want broad appeal topics with strong romantic plots. (I wouldn’t classify our books as women’s fiction but romances.) For our readers, settings have a strong appeal, so we use location in marketing a story. We also find that our buyers have continued interest in historicals with American settings. I like to see historical events play out alongside the romance. (Carol Cox’s An Affair to Remember series is a good example of weaving history into a story almost like it was another character.) I’m most likely to look at historicals from the 19th century. The readers that our books seem to connect with are those who are seeking a respite from the fast pace of modern life.

I also oversee the romance story collections that we do. Books first released through the Heartsong Presents romance book club fill most of these slots. We also do a small number of newly-written novella collections. For the time being, I have all the proposals I need in this area.

I am the supervising editor over the exciting Landon Snow series for 8-12 year old readers, but at this time, we are not seeking proposals for any juvenile or teen fiction.

As our guidelines state, I do prefer proposals come to me through e-mail. You don’t need to have an agent to work with this house, but we do work with all the main agents in the CBA market. Also, I’m one of those editors who is likely to read your first chapter before I read the cover letter or story summary.

What publishers are seeking can change quickly as world events emerge and trends evolve, but it is pretty safe to say that Christian romance fiction will remain a staple on our list for a long time. Barbour Publishing has been in business 26 years and has had romance fiction in its offerings almost from the beginning.

If you have a question you’d like an editor to address on this blog, we do welcome hearing from you.


Mary Connealy said...

Becky, I'm running on about three hours of sleep so my brain is fried (and NO that's not the norm for me...much)
I had a question just a day or so again and thought, "I'll post this to the edit cafe blog. Now I can't remember it. Lost in the mist of sleeplessness. But it'll come to me.

Lynette Sowell said...

I'd like know: What's the main difference from the Barbour trade fiction line and Heartsong? Is it word count? Or is the romance more secondary in the trade fiction line? Thanks for this update. It helps a lot! :)

Kristy Dykes said...

Enjoyed your post, Becky. Thanks.

Becky said...

Has your memory returned yet, Mary?

Thanks, Lynette, I'll give the answer to your question some thought for a future post.

Mary Connealy said...

Nope. Maybe later.
I am getting excited about the ACFW conference though. I made my daughter change or preferred wedding date because of COURSE she wanted it right on top of the conference. (MADE is a little strong. Begged might be more accurate.
Something else to obsess about now. I'm speaking at a writer's festival in Brownsville Nebraska next weekend. I"m supposed to fill 45 MINUTES.
My current speech, with lots of questions runs maybe...20 minutes. And I might be exaggerating by...oh...ten minutes.
Is that long enough?
No one cares if a speech goes SHORT RIGHT? In fact they might buy MORE books if I just get in and out.
Any hints for things to talk about?
You editor ladies can all do a post on this and I'll cut, paste and run with it.

Becky said...

Susan, JoAnne, and I are speaking tomorrow at a university, but I'm not sure our notes would exactly work for you. (grin)

Lynette Sowell said...

I thought of something else, because I'm someone who likes to know how things work.

Could you share with us the average shelf-life of a book? As in, what's an average first print run (if that's something you don't share, maybe give a general idea across publishers)? How many printings can occur? How long does a book stay in print--a Barbour trade fiction, anthology, or Heartsong? One thing that's dawned on me (maybe some other authors would say, duh!) is that we only have a certain window of opportunity to promote our books as new. What can we do to keep promiting a book that's, say, almost a year old? Is it worth it to promote a book that's getting towards the end of its shelf life? For example, Windswept Weddings has been out for nearly a year old--BUT this is wedding season. Would it be worth it to promote now? Thanks! :)

Becky said...

There is a lot there, Lynette. I'll work on how to respond. Since I'll be traveling on Wednesday, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about posting. Maybe I'll have to hold off until Thursday.

Lynette Sowell said...

Thanks, Becky! All of you have a wonderful trip. :)