Amy Woods recently sold to Special Edition, and Carly Silver, editorial assistant for Special Edition, is her editor. Since both are first timers in the acquisition process, we thought we’d ask them to blog about their year, things they’ve learned each month about the publishing process and the ins and outs of the author/editor relationship.
Here’s the first post!
My first steps to publication – Amy Woods
I’ve been an aspiring author for many years. In that time, I have found that one of the best ways to increase your chances of publication is to do a bit of homework before sending your manuscript out into the world. This is especially true when it comes to category romance. Each of the Harlequin series, or category lines, has its own special brand, with its own themes and hooks, which readers know and love. Though I regularly read Harlequin category romances, the Special Edition series is my particular cup of tea.
I’m consistently drawn to the aspects of Special Edition that make these books, well…special. When I open a Special Edition novel, I know I will be treated to a strong romance with love, home, family, and community at its center. There will be a heroine whose circumstances I can identify with, as she meets all the challenges of searching for balance as a modern woman in her world. The hero, whether alpha or beta, matches the heroine in emotional strength and kindness, and, by the end of the book, vows to love, support, and cherish her forever. Together, they will find the unique and extraordinary home and family they’ve both been searching for, whether they knew it or not.
It’s only natural that I wrote the type of book that I adore reading. My voice fit the Special Edition series, and, having read so many of these books, I was familiar with the types of characters and plots that would be at home in my favorite line. Once I had a full, polished manuscript, I sent a query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters of my manuscript, Hometown Healer, to editorial assistant Carly Silver, who requested the full. The rest, as they say, is history!
This might sound simple. There are, however, are several key steps that I believe increased the likelihood of my receiving “the call.”
- Read extensively in the line you wish to write for. The very best way to understand what editors are looking for is to read what they are publishing. Notice themes and characteristics that show up in multiple books, while also thinking about how you might put a unique spin on those themes in your own story. In Special Edition, such hooks range from a secret baby to a marriage of convenience or a cowboy hero.
- Check out the writing guidelines for each line at the Harlequin website. Study them. Know that the editors take them seriously. This may seem obvious, but, while a book with a shape-shifting hero may be perfect for Nocturne, that manuscript wouldn’t find a home with Love Inspired Historical. Make sure that your manuscript is a good fit for whichever line you’re targeting before submitting. That will show the editors that you care about the line they edit, and you’re conscientious enough to only send something that fits the requirements.
- Find your voice, and trust it once you do. I tried several types of writing on for size before I realized that I write best when I’m just being myself and writing the kinds of stories that I love. It’s okay to work on different kinds of stories to find what feels most comfortable to you. Once you find that sweet spot, trust that, if it feels right, it probably is.
- Maintain professionalism. The editors at Harlequin are kind and generally awesome, and they truly do want to find new authors. They are also very, very busy. To make things run smoothly, be courteous. Edit your manuscript before submitting it, and have someone else read it through, as well. Double-space the manuscript and use a legible font in a reasonable size. It’s not easy to wait to hear back, so be patient. Start that new story that’s been itching for your attention, and I promise, you’ll hear back in due time.
I’m thrilled to be a new Harlequin Special Edition author, and it is my sincere hope that your dream of publication will come true, as well. Happy writing!
Thank you, Amy, and we’re eager to see your adventure this year! You can also keep up with Amy’s adventures on her website or on Twitter, where she is @AmyWoodsBooks