The Write Romantics have a confession to make. We’re very excited about our guest today. To be fair, we’re excited about all our guests but we’re particularly excited to welcome Lynne Connolly to the blog because she is such a prolific writer with over 70 titles to her name. As aspiring and freshly published writers, can we pause to say wow. Just wow!
Lynne’s also a fellow RNA-member and is incredibly generous with her knowledge and advice on our online community, Romna. We’ve all lurked on Romna regularly and found her posts very informative and helpful so thanks, Lynne, from all of us.
Lynne writes romance and categorises this in three main areas of interest: paranormal romance, historical romance, and contemporary romance. So pretty much something there for everyone. She says, “I write hot and sensual, and my heroes and heroines are always to die for!”
On Thursday, Lynne will be talking about her latest novel, Lightning Unbound but, for now, Lynne tells us all about how she came to write for the US market.
Over to Lynne …
It was an accident that I ended up in the US market. I wrote a book, a historical set in the first person and it was clear from the end that there were more to come from the same couple. I didn’t end the book on a cliffhanger, because I hate those (too impatient!) but it was clear all their problems weren’t solved and they had a way to go. So, a potential series. Could I sell it? Not in the UK.
The British publishers didn’t want it. I got lots of “we love it but we can’t sell it” rejections, so when a friend suggested I tried the USA, I looked into it. In those days you had to send the manuscript by snail mail, the same as for anywhere else, but I thought it was worth a try. So I sent it off, and eventually a tiny publisher accepted it. They were an eBook company, but I thought, well, it’s experience, and I accepted the offer.
I didn’t realise that “Yorkshire” would have such a rocky journey. The tiny company went under after a year, but by then my name was known and I’d been through the process, editing, cover art, all that. The first cover art was—interesting.
Eventually, after a foray with another, slightly larger, publisher, “Yorkshire” ended at Samhain. Not only was I dealing with a country I’d never even visited, I was in the very early days of epublishing. I’d never thought of myself as a pioneer! From there, it blossomed, and with a few setbacks, I’m still there with over 70 books to my credit, and going strong.
Every year I go to the RT Convention. It’s one of the two largest romance conventions in America, so that probably means in the world. I chose it over the other one, the RWA Nationals, because while industry professionals go there, it’s reader based and I was helping to educate readers on the eBook market. That no longer has to happen. Over there, very few people don’t know about ebooks, and that goes double for the romance market. It’s really important to get in touch with the market, and while RT isn’t cheap, it’s the most efficient way for someone from abroad to meet the highest concentration of readers, editors, publishers, journalists and agents in one place. Plus, it’s the best fun! It is very welcoming and encompasses all aspects of the genre, from gay romance to deepest, darkest desires, to Christian romance.
The romance market in the USA is staggeringly huge. Nielsen says that over 50% of all fiction sold every year in the USA is romance. It’s much, much bigger than the UK market. Writers hardly known in the UK, like Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward are superstar millionaires. And that means there are different genres. The clearer you can define yourself and what you write, the better. I write in three genres—paranormal romance, historical romance and contemporary romance, though I do urban contemporaries, not the small town romances that are sweeping the board right now. See what I mean?
To be considered as a romance, a book has to describe the developing romantic relationship between two (or more!) people. That isn’t separate couples, it’s one relationship. If more than two people are involved, we have a ménage. The book has to have a happy ending, either happy-for-now or happy ever after. That’s why some Young Adult books don’t count as romances, because they often come in trilogies with cliffhangers at the end. But many romance readers also love Young Adult and New Adult books.
Stories that don’t have that romantic relationship at the centre are not romances. They are women’s fiction, fiction with a romantic element, or something of that nature. If it’s a book about a woman’s struggle to survive in the slums, and oh yes, she happens to meet a man, then it’s women’s fiction.
There are also definite trends. Right now the trend is for self-published 99 cent books, but that is passing. Already its heyday seems to have gone and the Amazon bestseller list contains more than the cheap books.
It’s important to keep an eye on trends, but it’s more important to write what you love. EL James might have written a book that sold a staggering amount (when I chatted with her at RT, she admitted she never expected that much success – but who could?) but she loved her story and lived it with her characters. The readers respond to that. But for every breakout author there is a steady seller. And, sadly, even more who don’t make it.
There are no magic bullets to success, but if you want to try for the US market—and with the Internet, why not?—then take a close look at the market and decide where you fit. Find a publisher that specialises in what you write, or if you want to go it alone, study the self-publishing market carefully. Don’t just go in willy-nilly. In other words, don’t do what I did, do what I say! Go over there. Take the plunge and go to RT or RWA to actually meet people. Talk to them.
Since I started selling in the USA, I have had experiences I never dreamed I’d have. Hanging out with Lee Child and EL James, staying in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and most of all making friends. It’s truly enhanced my life.
Thanks again to Lynne for joining the blog. You can read more about her journey and her books on her website at: here … or come back on Thursday!