All About America – Lynne Connolly’s Successful Accident

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.

ImageLynne 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.

ImageI 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.

So that’s the very brief story of my journey. I fell into it. But it soon became clear that if I wanted to be a success there, then I had to work at it. So I set myself to learn.Image

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.

ImageIt’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!

 

Julie xx

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13 thoughts on “All About America – Lynne Connolly’s Successful Accident

  1. I fell into it in a similar way. No success with British companies so I submitted to Ellora’s Cave in the US and had an immediate acceptance – though it did go into my spam. Good thing I checked it! Looking forward to seeing you at RT next year!

  2. Such useful advice Lynne and, as Julie and Rhoda have already said, your advice on ROMNA is so generous and helpful. Heaven knows how you have managed to write 70 books as well, when you are so generous with your time! Good luck with everything.

  3. Hey doll, great article. Now would you mind sharing some insights as to the UK market for those of us in the colonies??? 😀 I’d love to expand my reach overseas, because historicals seem to be more popular over there than here. Although I’m hoping we’ll see a resurgence in the market with Outlander showing up on STARZ in August and new historicals that Lisa Kleypas just signed for. But I’d really love to learn how to reach UK and other countries.

  4. Another excellent post, Lynne!! And we romance writers over here in the good ol’ U.S.of A. are so blessed because of your willingness to share your prolific writing style & talents.

    Warmest Regards,

    ~ Cindy Nord

  5. Fascinating post Lynne and congratulations on 70 books. I was particularly interested to read your advice on attending the RT and RWA and just how big the American market is for romance.

  6. What an interesting post Lynne, I never thought to wonder how you came to write so much for the American market. You are amazing to write so many books and be so helpful to others. I’d love to join you on those events one day, maybe if I keep going eh?

  7. I would love it if you came to RT! I think there is a style the American reader likes, and I just happen to write that way! But for my first RT I dipped into my savings. It’s not just work, it’s one of the best parties you can go to! And you get to see a bit of America, too.

  8. Great post – thanks for sharing all your advice, Lynne, both here and on ROMNA. I began with a small Canadian e-publisher and have moved on now so this all makes sense. Really need to go to RT soon!

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