Spring Brings Romance...and a New Romance Publisher, Crimson Romance: interview with editor Jennifer Lawler

Sunday, April 08, 2012
Spring is upon us and with spring comes all sorts of new things: new plants for the garden, new clothes for the closet, and this year a brand new romance publisher to add to your list! Crimson Romance offers the best of both worlds for writers. As a brand new publisher they're eager to work with new talent, sign new series, and take the time to guide unpublished writers. But since they are under the Adams Media umbrella they have a much more extensive ability to reach readers than most brand new publishers! Editor Jennifer Lawler took some time to answer questions so WOW readers will know just what Crimson Romance is looking for . . . and boy, are they looking. Wait until you see how many books they're planning to release this year!

WOW: Crimson Romance's parent company is Adams Media. Is that the same Adams Media known for nonfiction books? If so, what made them decide to jump the aisle to fiction and more specifically, romance?

JENNIFER: Yes, we’re part of Adams Media (which is part of F+W Media), the nonfiction book publisher. Adams Media branched into fiction with the acquisition of Tyrus books in 2011. (Tyrus publishes crime novels.) As far as romance goes, we felt that many of the same readers who buy our nonfiction titles will also buy our romances—the demographics are very similar. We also know that e-books are the future of publishing, and genre fiction is one of the fastest-growing segments of e-book sales. Romance readers are avid e-book readers. Plus, we’re committed to developing online communities that give readers the experience they’re looking for. It just made sense for us to begin this imprint now.

WOW: Romance is such a broad description. There are countless mini-genres within romance. Will Crimson Romance be specializing in any specific types of romance or are you open to everything?

JENNIFER: We are looking for five main subgenres of romance: contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, paranormal, and spicy (sexy) romance. We’re not acquiring YA or Christian subgenres at this time. But within the five subgenres that we are publishing, we’re very flexible: a paranormal could be an urban adventure with werewolves; or it could be a light-hearted fantasy with elves, set in a world unlike ours; or it could be a science-fiction romance. But we’re definitely looking for romance: it has to have a happily ever after!

WOW: I learned that Crimson Romance will be launching 260 books their first year. First, wow! Second, I imagine all these books are already signed. Do you have many series in the works or are they stand alone books? Are you looking to discover and develop romance authors that will write multiple books for Crimson Romance so you can continue to offer your readers this great selection each year?

JENNIFER: Yes, we have a very aggressive release schedule—5 titles a week (one in each subgenre). We want readers to know that whenever they’re ready for another book, we’ll have one available! We are committed to succeeding in this endeavor, so we’re making sure that readers will be able to get what they want from us.

Not all of the books are signed; we are definitely in acquisitions mode. We have a number of series in the works, as many readers like linked books, but the majority are stand alone. And we’re definitely looking for romance writers who have more than one book in them! We’re already working with several previously unpublished authors, and it has been a great joy to help them develop their skills. Feeling like you’ve had a hand in helping a writer develop her craft is the most rewarding aspect of this job. If we see a manuscript with promise, we’re often able to work with the writer to get it where it needs to be. We’re happy to release several books per year from any of our authors; we don’t feel we need to adhere to a “one book per author per year” philosophy.

WOW: Crimson Romance is offering a prize in author Brenda Novack's Online Auction for Diabetes—every book published by Crimson Romance in their first year! I can't imagine (and I'm sure my mailman can't either) getting a package of 260 books! Will the prize be e-books? Is Crimson Romance going to be publishing all their titles as e-books?

JENNIFER: Oh, yes, these will be e-books! We’re very excited about offering this subscription to benefit Brenda’s cause. All of our titles will release first as e-books. We do plan to release all of our books in print-on-demand versions as well (this may be a few weeks after publication of the e-version), as some readers still prefer print, but our emphasis is on e-books.

WOW: What are you still looking for? Is there a certain genre you just aren't seeing enough of or a "dream book" you wish someone would write?

JENNIFER: We would love to see more historicals. The historicals we do see are almost all fantastically well-written, but we want more of them! And we’re looking for sexy romance, emphasis on the romance. In this case, the sexual component of the romance has to be an integral part of the story, but so does the romance.

WOW: Can we talk a little about submitting to Crimson Romance? Are you accepting straight from authors or are you only working through agents? I imagine you've had a lot of proposals cross your desk. Any pet peeves we should avoid? What makes you really crazy? You can tell us!

JENNIFER: We are accepting directly from authors, and we are also working with agents; we’re pleased to do it either way. If you’ve written a romance and are looking for a home for it, we’re happy to see a query letter about your project (we can be reached at editorcrimson@gmail.com). If we think it could fit our line, we’ll ask for a full and a brief synopsis. We’re usually able to respond to queries within a week and to fulls within a month, although sometimes we do get a little backed up. We can usually make decisions quickly, although if you’re submitting in a subgenre where we get a lot of submissions (such as contemporary), it can take a little longer.

We get a certain number of queries from people who don’t really understand what romance is—it has specific conventions and readers have specific expectations. You have to have a happily ever after! If you don’t, you may have a terrific love story, but it’s not a romance. We get a lot of submissions from people who don’t understand that the romance between the two main characters has to be front and center. You can’t just call a mystery with a love interest a romantic suspense and think that’ll work!

I get a ton of submissions written in first person. Romance readers tend to prefer third person, so your first-person novel has to be extra amazing and superfantastic for me to take a risk on it.

We’re definitely looking for character-driven romance, not plot-driven romance. We love classic plotlines like marriage-of-convenience, but they have to make sense based on who the characters are—the characters must be written so that they would reasonably do this admittedly outrageous thing for reasons that any of us could understand.

We also get a lot of submissions from people who have self-published their books (on Kindle, etc.) and now want to go the traditional publishing route. We can’t accept previously published material for Crimson Romance.

WOW: And on a happier note, what about a book proposal makes you say, "I need to read this book."

JENNIFER: I’ll let you in on a secret. I rarely reject a book based on the query alone—only if it’s obviously not right for our line (wrong genre or similar). Frankly, most writers are terrible at writing queries. I’ve acquired several books that I think other editors would probably have rejected based on the query. By the same token, most writers are terrible at writing the first ten pages of their books. I almost always start reading a full at Chapter 2. In other words, I’m predisposed to look for what’s good in a book, not for reasons to reject a book. Possibly this is because I was a writer for many years before I became an editor and I know how much I treasured editors who looked for what was right. I know that the first ten pages can be chopped off, and Joe’s lack of believable motivation in Chapter 3 can be fixed, and so on, and I don’t think of this as some daunting task that earns an instant rejection. It’s just editing, you know?

What can’t be fixed is that indefinable quality that makes a book readable—maybe it’s the charming characters or the author’s ability to paint a picture of a scene. It varies from book to book—I’ll think, “I need to read this book” for a number of different reasons. Mostly it boils down to: Do I care what happens next? Am I upset when the characters encounter setbacks? Do I love how the book ends and hate that it has ended? Make me cry and I’m likely to offer you a contract as soon as I finish sopping up the tears.

WOW: Oh, you sound like a dream editor! Rumor has it you're also in the market for writers with out-of-print romances. Will you be reprinting these out-of-prints or are you searching for seasoned authors to write new books?

JENNIFER: We have a sister imprint, Prologue Books, that is currently publishing out-of-print mysteries and crime novels. We’re planning to expand that imprint to include romance. For Prologue Romance, we are looking for out-of-print romance titles to reissue. If an author has gotten rights back and wants us to consider reissuing her book, she can drop me a line at editorcrimson@gmail.com, specifying that she has an out-of-print title for Prologue. As mentioned before, we can’t have anything previously published for Crimson, so please be sure it’s clear that you’re submitting to Prologue.

These books need to be previously published by a well-known romance publisher—we’re not looking for self-published books for this line.

We’re definitely looking for seasoned authors to write new books for Crimson, and in fact are happy to have signed a few so far!

WOW: So where can we get in touch with you . . . Facebook, Twitter, email?

JENNIFER: We can be reached at editorcrimson@gmail.com

Our social media:

Twitter: @Crimson_Romance

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CrimsonRomanceBooks

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/crimsonromance/

Our writers’ guidelines:


Soon our website will be at www.crimsonromance.com

WOW: Any last minute advice for our budding romance writers?

JENNIFER: Tell a great story! Make your characters work for that happy ending—it shouldn’t come too easily, or too soon. Break my heart a time or two along the way.

WOW: Well, thank you for your time and I have a feeling April will be WOW Month for Crimson Romance editors. Get ready for a blizzard of queries from WOW writers!


Moriah Densley said...

Fantastic interview! Thanks for posting this. I'm one of Jennifer's clients (historical romance for the June '12 launch), and I can tell you, Jodi, she IS a dream editor! Smart, generous, and she works at the speed of light. The group of authors are fun too--we have a "club." I highly encourage writers to submit to Crimson Romance. Come join the party!

Kristina Knight said...

Another of Jennifer's new authors, here! My debut is a June release and I have to agree with Moriah- working with Jennifer and Crimson has been a dream so far! :) Thanks for posting this!

Sandy L. Rowland said...

Thank you for this interesting and helpful post.
It answered many of my questions I couldn't find elsewhere.
Best success to you and Crimson.

Judy Griffith Gill said...

WOW! You ask all the right questions. Jennifer is a real sweetie (I've worked with her briefly and hope to continue to do so on a contract editor basis). Who know, now I've read what she told you, I might just consider submitting to Crimson myself.

Unknown said...

I am a Crimson Romance author as well! My book is set for the July 9th release date. All of what you've written is true. Jennifer is a dream editor to work with. Questions are answered immediately and helpfully. I feel so lucky to be working with such a great group.

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