Lynette asked this question a while ago:
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?
I confess that I haven’t read a Heartsong Presents title in quite awhile. I’ve been blessed with good staff over the past few years to handle the books without my detailed involvement. I do have a couple Heartsongs on my To Read pile now that I would like to get to someday, but the pile grows faster than I can read.
That being said, I do know both lines of our fiction well, and the main difference does come down to word count. A Heartsong romance is 45–50,000 words. The full-length romance fiction generally falls between 80,000 and 100,000 words.
Because of the added length being nearly twice the size of a Heartsong, an author has room to develop a meatier story.
- Characters can be more fleshed out in their goals, motivations, and conflicts.
- There can be secondary characters with their own POV scenes. Their characteristics can be more developed.
- The plot can be more than just a romance that has to develop realistically within a limited amount of storytelling space. An author can expound on subplots revolving around things other than the romance, like an historical event, a mystery, another family or friendship relationship, and so on.
- I’m still looking for romance to be a solid part of the story, but it can be portrayed in a less formulaic (or predictable) manner.
- Being that the full-length books are selected and bought in stores instead of shipped automatically to club members like the Heartsongs are, we can be freer to tackle some heavier plot issues like divorce, abusive relationships, addictions, etc. Again the added word length makes it possible to develop these issues in a realistic arch from beginning to end.
I’m currently filling 12 slots per year with full-length fiction. I like to grow our established Heartsong authors into the full-length line whenever possible. My selection of stories to contract, though, has a lot to do with timing – what wows me at the time, what has the best sales potential, and the like.