Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Taking Fiction to Full

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.
Like Heartsong, the story needs to appeal to a broad audience, but I want a story that stands out from the average, portraying characters and their romance in a fresh voice that surprises me. After working with inspirational romances for 14 years, it takes a lot to surprise me.

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.


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Becky. Thanks for the interesting comparison between Heartsong and Barbour Trade Fiction. Someone asked me the other day about word length...I wasn't that sure about the longer books but I had it about right.

Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks, Becky, for the info.

Lynette Sowell said...

Thanks, Becky! This is exactly what I wondered about. Among the books on my TBR pile are: Fair Game and Ticket To Tomorrow. (just finished Promise Me Always) :)

The Write Life said...

Let me see if I can post today! Does anyone else have a problem posting at certain times?

I loved the comparison post, too. Do you all belong to the Truly Yours club for trade fiction releases? I think I'm going to join, because as hard as I try to keep up with the new releases, I can see I've missed some -- like Carol Cox's world fair books.

The Tuesday/Thursday book updates have helped keep me informed, but our Wal-mart has slowed way down on keeping up on their inspirational fiction, whereas they used to be awesome about keeping the shelves stocked with the newest available books, with a lot of them being Barbour books.

We don't have a Christian bookstore nearby and though the mainstream bookstores do stock a good amount of Christian fiction, they miss a lot, too. I'm glad to see Barbour right there with all the others, though! Consistantly.

I just read about the Truly Yours club over at, so think I'll go that route.

Becky said...

Truly Yours is a book club you can join through Barbour to get all full-length releases. It is a nice automatic shipment option that I have yet to mention on this blog.

Our books do show up in Wal-Mart, though it is true that the chain buyers have become less consistent in what they choose to stock and when.

Carrie Turansky said...

This is very helpful information. Thanks! I've enjoyed several of the Barbour trade books lately including Petticoat Ranchy, Bygones, and Promise Me Always. Our Sam's and Wal-Mart both carry a good selection of Barbour antholgies and trade books. It's always encouraging to see our books there!

Mary Connealy said...

I've heard of Truly Yours, Becky, but I don't know much about it. Someone said Petticoat Ranch was in the Truly Yours book club...I think that's all I heard and I couldn't find more about it on the website.
I wondered at the time if they had Petticoat Ranch mixed up with my Heartsong Presents book, Golden Days.
I'd like a post about Truly Yours.

Lynette Sowell said...

I hadn't heard about the Truly Yours club till now. Neat!! :) I am enjoying the diversity of the titles. Just need to find more time to read. :)

Kathy said...

Thanks Becky for the info comparing Heartsong and Barbour. I am a "want to be" writer and working on something right now that I hope to get published. This has helped me greatly.

I am also having a hard time finding the books at Wal-Mart. Someone said they had a new ventor and that may be why. I find I can get most anything I want at Amazon, but I am going to join Truly Yours Club. Sounds intersting. I look at the publisher before I buy a book, and most of mine are Barbour. I also recommend them to others. I loved Promise Me Always and Petticoat Ranch. Thanks for doing such a good job with writers.