Friday, October 13, 2006

What I learned at NJRW – Editors and Agents

First off, this is a great, really well run conference that I’d really recommend. Small enough that you can meet people and large enough that it gets a good turnout from editors and agents.

I attended the agent/editor panels, so I’m going to cover them. Not that I ever find them that informative.

The editors present were from St. Martins, Avon, Kensington, Harlequin(Luna, SIM, HI) and a new publishing house, Samhain.

The usual questions got asked, what are you looking for? What trends do you see in the marketplace, yada, yada..

First and foremost, all of them said, they’re looking for a well written story. I really got the sense that they’re open to a lot of different genre’s, as long as the story is compelling. Not one said they’re looking for any particular genre specifically.

But here are the specifics
1) Westerns. No one there other than Samhain was willing to consider Westerns. They haven’t sold well in the past. Personally, I think someone is going to write an incredible Western romance and change all this. Maybe, I'm just really hoping that’s the case.
2) Paranormals, still selling well, but if you’re going to do a Vampire or Werewolf story, you have to put a really unique spin on it, as they already have established authors writing the more standard Vampires and Werewolves.
3) Hot… sexy sells better. In almost all genres. Up the saleability of your book by adding great sexual tension and smoking sex scenes.
4) Check the Barnes and Noble best seller lists and see what’s selling, and that will give you a strong indication of what’s selling. That’s what the editors do.

The agent panel, had six agents. Sorry, but I either won’t get the names right, or I’ll misspell them. Not much came out of this, except they are looking for really well written saleable stories across all genres.

My impression coming out of these panels are that they are open to almost all types of stories(westerns aside) and are looking for something different.

What else I learned from the New Jersey conference.
I agree with Molly. Eloisa James is a very smart lady and I really wish I’d attended her workshop.
Most bestselling authors are bestsellers because they write great books, but also, because they are really knowledgeable about the publishing industry and what it takes to progress in their careers. I aspire to be half as smart as Eloisa James, Ann Stuart and Jennifer Crusie.
I’m trying to be half as nice as Virginia Kantra, Roxanne St. Claire and CJ Carmichael. Class acts, and really lovely ladies.
And even though we only see them once a year, it was so fun hanging out with Anna and Brenda Harlen.

Great conference, catch it next year if you can.


Kimber said...

I keep hearing about the "tell a great story bit" yet if that was truly the case, why do most agents turn authors down based on a query LETTER?
I can understand turning down based on a first chapter or a synopsis but a letter?
That doesn't have enough info to prove the "tell a great story" theory.

Sinead M said...

Hey Kimber,
It's funny, I got turned down on query lately as well, and I put it down to personal preferences.
The agent just doesn't like the sort of story I tell.

I think right now, the sense I get, is they have more of an idea of what they're not looking for, if that makes any sense.

It also makes it really hard to interpret what they will and won't like....

Good luck with the querying.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yeah, the query thing is tough. It has to be an idea that grabs them and doesn't sound like the other 100 queries they read that week.

I often snuck the first 5 pages in with my queries so they'd have a chance to look at the writing, too. But there are lots of people who'll tell you NEVER to do that...

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