Kensington and Megan Records

Hello everyone.  Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 RWA National Conference where I got to meet several people including a few from Kensington. I had already met today’s guest in March and knew instantly that I wanted to be published with Kensington, but now after meeting Alicia Condon I know I HAVE to keep trying to be one of their authors. I attended a workshop where five of Kensington’s top people spoke about what happens between you, your book, and them. I learned so much about the “behind” the scenes workings and the people who really get your book sold. I’m amazed and have so much respect for those people. Today’s guest is an editor of two of my writing friends and one that I enjoy twitter stalking cause she’s just fun. One day Megan will either block me from everything or I will be a Kensington author. I’ll keep you all posted and yes I’m open for you all to take bets on which will happen 🙂

But for now let’s get down to the interview and give Mrs. Megan Records a huge thank you for stopping by and participating today.

What made you become an editor?

It was a very logical thought process, actually. I wanted a job I really loved. What did I love to do? Read. How could I get paid to read? Become an editor.

 

How did you go about becoming an editor?

I did the typical track—English major. I got an M.S. in Publishing (not necessary at all, but it was a relatively “safe” way of getting to NYC…no immediate panic over jobs and apartments). I had a great internship at Harlequin that solidified for me that I wanted to work in romance. My first job was with an educational publishing house. Oh, the nightmares. It was just the wrong job for me—copyediting math problems is not fun for an English major. And then I landed at Kensington.

 

Did you ever think of becoming an agent?

No. As a kid, I couldn’t even go door-to-door in our neighborhood to sell fundraising things. I am just not the “outgoing salesman” type. Ironically, as an editor, I have to “sell” my books to the editorial board and to our sales team, but it seems less daunting when you are making a salary and not working on commission.

 

How many authors (currently contracted) do you edit? How many do you feel is too many at one time?

 I think I’ve got about 14 currently under contract. I don’t mentally have a number that is too many in total, but sometimes I‘ll read a sub and think, “Do I really need another paranormal author writing this creature?” or “Do I have room for another historical author writing this time period?” It’s all about how the group meshes, not how big it is.

 

If you get a manuscript on submission on you like it but just don’t love it do you ever offer any advice on what would make you love it?

If I can. Most of the time, when I run across a “like not love” manuscript, I can’t pinpoint what would make it jump that fence for me. I mean, I did like it. There was nothing “wrong” with it. It just didn’t have that je ne sais quoi that would have me begging my ed board to let me buy it. More often in this situation, I ask if the author has any other projects in the works.

 

I’ve heard you say that you contract around five new authors a year. With your promotion has that number increased?

Yes and no. My promotion didn’t create any more spots on our list, and it didn’t make any of our other acquiring editors invisible so I could take their spots. But it will give me more attention from agents, who will start sending projects that they hadn’t sent here previously, and I will also have a little bit more leeway in my buys (i.e. they might allow a riskier buy that they wouldn’t have allowed before). So while I don’t have an annual quota of manuscripts I must buy, I do expect to buy more this year than I have previously.  And remember, after a certain point, it’s bad if an editor keeps picking up a lot of new people. I want to get to the point where I am constantly renewing the authors I have, and therefore picking up fewer projects.

 

What is the next step in editing for you? What are your future plans?

I plan to discover many bestsellers and become a legend in the world of publishing, of course. :]

 

I can say without a doubt that I truly believe that Ms. Records is well on her way to becoming a legend and I’m convinced that she has at least two Best Sellers in her catalog now. Especially since I am a critique partner of one, I mean really it has to happen 🙂 Thanks again to Mrs. Records and all her hard work  in the publishing industry and to the others at Kensington who work so hard to make the publishing industry the best field to work in. Thank you all.

Tuesday’s Industry News

Hello everyone! Today is the first of many posts where I Sayde Grace will let you all know a little about what is going on in the writing industry. Today I’m featuring a contest from Kensington Publishing. Now you all know that I adore Kensington and would love to be published by them so I’m a little bias on this post. But a few days ago a Kensington Brava author brought this contest to my attention and I thought “what better way to start off my industry posts than this?”

Alicia Condon has announced that Brava will be participating in “Writing with the Stars”. The rules have not yet been posted but here are a little of the details posted on the Brava Authors blog by Mrs. Condon:

“We all have our favorite reality TV shows – Donna Kauffman blogs about American Idol; next year Kensington will be publishing a paranormal send up of The Real Housewives series; and now Brava has its own Writing with the Stars contest. In conjunction with RT Book Reviews, Brava is sending out a call to unpublished writers of paranormal, historical and contemporary romance , as well as romantic suspense: We’re looking for a hot debut novel to be published in 2012 under the Brava imprint at Kensington.”

Now for those of you who have been teetering back and forth about a novel you are writing, have tried to write, or are thinking of writing this is a great opportunity to get your behind in gear and get ready for “Writing with the Stars”.

For more info here is the direct link to Mrs. Condon’s post : http://www.bravaauthors.com/blog/2010/03/26/writing-with-the-stars/#more-2479

Now I look forward to seeing ten of our followers as finalist so get busy and get ready, I’ll be looking for you all in the finalist column!

Oh and just because I was forced to watch the kids choice awards here is just a glimpse of what made it worth while:

   

Thank god this kid finally turned 18, I was starting to feel bad about thinking how hot he is. They so did not make em’ like this when I was 18(except you honey! You’re the exception, that’s why I love ya 🙂 ). But really, when did high school guys look like this??

All right so now go forth and write, get ready to bring your A game because I want to see some Sizzlers and Sizzlets on that finalist page!

Kick Off of The Countdown to Conference

Hello everyone! Today the Sizzlers are kicking off our Countdown to Conference. What  conference you ask? Why the 2010 Silken Sands  Conference at Pensacola Beach March 19-21 of course. Today we are honored and elated to have an interview from one of the fabulous editors who will be attending the conference. So I welcome you all to read, comment, and learn from Kensington Publishing Corp, editor Megan Records.

First off on behalf of everyone reading this I would like to thank Mrs. Records for taking the time to participate in the countdown and attending the Silken Sands Conference. So without further ado, I give you the questions and answers we’ve all been looking for:

[Sizzlers]. Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not. ?

[M. Records]

Hot: dark paranormals. I am seeing a larger variety of creatures these days: angels, genies, etc, but werewolves and vampires still dominate. I hardly ever see funny paranormals. Shame, because I like those too!

Hot: historicals in which the characters have “modern” issues. I say “modern” because these issues existed back then, but were not really discussed or brought to light until more recently. For example: domestic violence.

Hot: historicals where the heroine is not a virgin, or is a virgin but grew up on a farm and/or reads, so is not completely ignorant of the mechanics of sex. I’m seeing much more of these than I have before, and loving it. I don’t mind the naïve virgin, and I know that’s historically correct, but I can only read so many where the heroine wonders exactly what is in a man’s pants.

Not: I never say something is “not.” I say that it might be more difficult to make these elements work. For instance, it is probably easier to make a white tiger shifter a sexy hero than, say, a 3-foot tall leprechaun. But will I say it can’t be done? Never. I’ve bought books in which the premise didn’t sound like my thing, but the writing sold it to me (a historical set in Mongolia? Who would have seen that one coming?). It’s all about the writing. If the writing makes it work, then you can sell me anything.

[Sizzlers] What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

 

[M. Records]

 

I have a lot of room in Brava at the moment. Brava is our more sensual imprint; sexier than Zebra, but generally without the kinkiness found in Aphrodisia (ménage, sex in animal form, bondage, etc.).

I also buy for Zebra, and I’m certainly willing to read manuscripts for this line, but right now there is so little room that I’m having to turn projects down even if I like them.

I would like a good urban fantasy, or perhaps a historical fiction novel.

I don’t work on Aphrodisia, gay fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, etc. I am perfectly happy to give you the name of an editor at Kensington that does, but my insight into these genres is limited, so I probably won’t be able to give you much feedback.

[Sizzlers] This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?

[M. Records]:

I like to use an analogy of a job interview to explain this. If you walk in and your shoes are a bit scuffed, or you are just really having a bad hair day, that shouldn’t be held against you. However, if you are in torn, wrinkled, dirty clothing, and smell like you haven’t bathed for days, that’s going to be a big black mark.  Similarly, if you have a few typos or grammatical errors, most editors will not hold that against you. But if there are glaring errors repeatedly throughout the manuscript, that’s going to be a problem. In dialogue, ok, because most people don’t speak in perfectly grammatically correct English, but otherwise, too many errors are going to hurt you. It may sound unfair, but you have to set some standards. If a singer hit too many wrong notes, you probably wouldn’t want to continue listening to them. Same principle applies.

As to using “was” etc, too much, that speaks more to the writing style than grammatical errors. If the writing feels repetitive, or the sentence structure is always the same, it makes it hard to stay interested. I don’t think I’ve ever said someone used “was” too much, but other repetition can really get to me. For instance, if you use the word “stunning” 3 times in two paragraphs, and it isn’t a situation where the character is dumbstruck and can’t think of what to say, then that stands out when I’m reading. If you end every bit of dialogue with an adverb, e.g.“he said quickly,” “he said glaringly,” “he said grudgingly,” “he said invitingly,” after a few pages, my brain will go on overload.

After that long ramble, if you want it in one sentence: The writing should never hinder the story; it should only enhance it. Case in point: this interview. I can almost guarantee that it’s not entirely grammatically correct. But that doesn’t detract from its general readability (I hope!).

[Sizzlers] What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

 

[M. Records]:

To me, they are two similar but different animals. E-books have the advantage of being able to take risks that traditional publishers are not. I’ve seen more than one trend start in e–books and then move to print once it was deemed “successful enough.” And I’ve bought several authors that originally started in e-books and are now writing for Kensington. On the other hand, print publishers have distribution, and a certain reputation that can make readers stick with them instead of going to e-books. The goal of both is the same: to sell books. But how they go about it and what they are able to sell is different.

I like to think of it as the young rebel teenager vs the senior citizen (can you tell I like analogies?). The teenager has fresh ideas and a new perspective, and often evolves and adapts more quickly than the senior citizen because they haven’t been around as long and aren’t set in their ways. But does that mean that all the experience and methods of the senior citizen are useless? Of course not. Both have something to bring to the table, and once they both realize this, they are able to learn something from each other.

Full disclosure: I have an e-reader. I use it for manuscripts, library books and free e-books, but I haven’t bought an e-book in the 3 months or so that I’ve had it (and I didn’t usually buy them before that because reading entire books on the computer gives me migraines.) The books I read in my spare time are generally from traditional publishers. Partially this is because many of my longtime favorite authors are from print houses. And partially this is because I am more aware of new authors in the print market, seeing as that’s what Kensington does and what most of my contacts focus on, and I get a lot of these books for free. It also helps to have something physical to point to when my husband asks, “Wait, how many books did you buy this month?”

[Sizzlers] I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them, check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

 

[M. Records]:

I freely admit I am an Internet addict. Generally speaking, though, I only look up authors after I’ve already made an offer. The exception to this is if something in their cover letter feels sketchy. For instance, if you say you are a published author, but do not mention any houses, I go look it up. If you say you are an award-winning author, but don’t mention any specific awards, I Google it. Or occasionally, I get a submission and think, “Why do I know that name?” and of course cannot rest until I’ve found the answer on the web. But for the majority of manuscripts, I do not do any initial sleuthing. With the number of submissions I get, it’s just not feasible unless I already have an interest in the book.

[Sizzlers] If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?

 

[M. Records]:

This is probably the biggest single pet peeve of any editor you will encounter. When an author does this, however nicely, it puts them on my mental blacklist as “high maintenance—stay away!” If I had any details about why I passed on it, I would have said that in my initial letter. Authors seem to feel it’s an editor’s job to give them feedback, and it is, if you are an author under contract. Otherwise, I have no obligation to do so. And let’s be honest, sometimes I don’t get far enough into a manuscript to give any viable feedback, or I can’t say what I really want to say without being horribly impolite, so I send a rather generic letter.

That said, I do appreciate that authors want to improve, and when I have something specific to say about the manuscript, I say it. If I think the manuscript could be great with some revision, I mention in my letter than I’d love to see it if/when the author revises. If I think the writing is just amazing but the particular project just doesn’t fit well with us, I ask to see any other projects the author has in the works. I always try to be very honest in my rejection letters, without being harsh.

Related to this is the “rejection rebuttal,” in which you explain why a comment in my letter is incorrect, or tell me you don’t think I “understood” your book. Only do this if you want an ironclad way to ensure that I will never buy your book, and you don’t want any other editor at my house to buy it either (because yes, we talk).

[Sizzlers] As a final wrap up could you tell us some of your pet peeves in the industry? Or is there anything happening in the industry you’d care to comment on or discuss?  We’d love to hear some of your views and opinions on the state of the craft and the market.

 

[M. Records]:

Oy, pet peeves could go on for a while :] Besides the one mention above, another one is the “equality complaint.” Various versions of this are:

“I sent you my manuscript in Oct, and this author send you hers in Nov, and you sent her a letter already and not me. Why?”

“This author at your house got 25 galleys and I only got 15. Why?”

“I heard you got a quote from [insert big name author here] for this book, why not for mine?”

I will say to you what my mom sarcastically said to us kids whenever we made this type of complaint: “It’s because we love him more.” Publishing is not equal. Marketing attention varies. My response time for manuscripts varies. Do not make comparisons.

Caveat: I can hear the voices now…“But what if I think her response to me might have gotten lost in the mail/email or I just want to double check that she got the manuscript?” Sure, go ahead and ask. Just don’t mention another author when you are doing so. And for heaven’s sake, wait at least 3 months before asking for an update, unless you have an offer. Excessive checking in will get you blacklisted. I am a very stubborn person; if you nag and push me to do something, I will resist just to be obstinate. Childish? Yes. But at least I can admit my faults, right?

On to happier topics, the industry. Romance is still selling. It is one genre that where sales were actually up for us last year, when many other categories were falling. Ironic, when romance is what I like to call “the bastard child of the publishing industry.” But I’m convinced it’s this very stereotype that has helped romance remain successful. Romance authors and readers are a community like none other in the publishing world. We band together to help each other succeed. We blog, we cross-promote, we give each other quotes. Do you know how rare it is to find a group of general fiction authors sharing a blog? And yet, that’s pretty commonplace in the romance community. We can go to local conferences where readers can actually meet New York Times bestselling authors…usually you don’t get to do that unless you buy a book at a signing. We all know that there are a lot of naysayers out there that think romance is fluff and nonsense, so we do everything we can to promote ourselves and the genre as a whole. Would romance be the top-selling paperback genre if this wasn’t the case? Somehow I don’t think so.

Okay I forgot to mention that Mrs. Records will be checking in from time to time. Feel free to ask questions as she may answer them. Thanks again to her for this great interview and remember Thursday we will have author Cat Johnson guest blogging. All right off to ask Mrs. Records one more question 🙂

Southern Sizzlers interview Cynthia Eden

We, at the Southern Sizzler Romance blog, have the privilege and honor of interviewing one of our dearly loved chapter members. The Inimitable Cynthia Eden. We are so thrilled to call her friend and mentor.  For those of you who have never met her in person, I have to tell you, you are missing out on one cool chica. 

Cynthia is generous with her time and talent and we are all thrilled to have her as our guest here.  We hope you enjoy her interview. 

SFCatty: Welcome to our little blog, Ms Eden. What an exciting time for you. You have Hotter After Midnight being re-released as a mass market paperback and you just had a new release on December 29, 2009 called Eternal Hunter.

CYNTHIA:  Thanks so much for inviting me over!!! It’s a pleasure to be at Southern Sizzlers (and I do so love that name.)
SFCatty:  First, tell us about the mass market release. What does that mean to you?

CYNTHIA:  It means excitement.  Every time a book is released, I get a giddy burst of excitement. Just can’t help it.  HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT was my first NY released book, so it’s very special to me.  And since it is being re-released now, well, that hopefully means more readers will have the chance to learn about my monster doctor and her wolf shifter cop. 

SFCatty:  It IS a great book.  Love the characters.   Any thoughts or inklings of the others in the Midnight Trilogy series being released as mass market?

CYNTHIA:  I haven’t heard any details about the other books yet. If I do, I will definitely let you know.  I *do* know that BELONG TO THE NIGHT, the paranormal romance anthology that included my story, “In the Dark,” will be re-released in mass market form next September. 

SFCatty:  That’s exciting and we’ll be looking forward to that this fall. 

SFCatty:  You also had a new book out on December 29, 2009, Eternal Hunter. This is the first in the Night Watch series. Tell us about that series.

CYNTHIA:  I love this series—and I am having such fun writing about these characters! The idea for the Night Watch series was pretty simple. Actually, the series developed from this one sentence: Sometimes, it can take a monster to catch a killer. And, yep, from that, the entire series was born.  I created a group of paranormal bounty hunters and their job is to hunt down criminals—both human and supernatural killers.

SFCatty: Is this a new direction for you?

CYNTHIA:  I like to think this is just continued exploration into the paranormal world that was created with the Midnight books. Many of the same supernatural beings appear and they follow the same “world” rules that were created in the Midnight books.   However, the beings are seen from a different perspective.  Good guys aren’t always obvious—neither are the bad guys. 

SFCatty:  Sounds intriguing.  Mysterious, even.  How many books will be in this series? I see on your website that there are two for release in 2010. Will we see more in 2011?

CYNTHIA:  I’ve written three books so far, and I plan to start on a fourth within the next few weeks.  The books will be released in 2010 and 2011. I may actually wind up with three released in 2010 (ETERNAL HUNTER is just released, I’LL BE SLAYING YOU will be out in July, and the third book—tentatively titled ETERNAL FLAME—may be out in December of 2010).

SFCatty:  Maybe in time for next year Christmas shopping.   YEAH!

SFCatty:  Tell us three intriguing facts about the hero in Eternal Hunter.

CYNTHIA:  Fact one: I liked his character so much that while I was writing the book, I actually kept pulling the hero into real-life conversations that I was having.  Seriously, I would say things like, “Well, if Jude were here, he’d say that was bullshit.”  Um, my husband had to remind me that Jude was *not* in fact, present. 

Fact two: He’s one of the most powerful supernatural heroes I’ve created—and also one with the potential to be the most vicious.  Hmmm…does that count as facts two and three? Oh, well, let’s throw in another one anyway…

Fact three:  He’s not just a fighter; the man is one serious lover, too!

SFCatty:  Ooh, la la.  We like serious lovers on this blog.   And what about three facts on the heroine?

CYNTHIA:   Have to be careful with her…don’t want to give away any spoilers but…

Fact one: Erin Jerome is intimately acquainted with Death. 

Fact two: When she wants to do so, Erin Jerome can  kick some serious ass.

Fact three:  Her character was semi-inspired by the show Law & Order. Yes, I am a Law & Order addict. 


SFCatty:  With all the Law and Order franchises, there should be something there for all those fans to love, too.   I can’t wait to check it out.

SFCatty:  Are there any new anthologies on the horizon with your work in them?

CYNTHIA:  Thanks for asking! Yes, I will be in a new anthology. This will be my first non-paranormal anthology for Kensington Brava. In October of 2010, my story, “All I Want for Christmas” will be released in the anthology titled, “The Naughty List.”  I wrote this one in November, so it sure helped to put me in the holiday mood!

SFCatty:  Any thoughts you want to share with your fans?

CYNTHIA:  I’d just like to say thank you. Thank you to the readers who’d picked up my books, to the wonderful folks who have emailed me about my stories.  Thank you!

SFCatty:  What’s next for Cynthia?

CYNTHIA:  2010 looks like it will be a busy release year for me (which is good—I like busy!).  I’m excited about the launch of my romantic suspense series in August of 2010 with the release of DEADLY FEAR (from Grand Central Publishing). The Deadly books will be dark, sexy, and I sure hope readers enjoy them. 

SFCatty:  So, we will get our “Cynthia” fix in 2010 for sure. No matter our preference-  Paranormal, suspense, or Christmas fare.  How awesome for you and for us, your readers.  Congratulations on what sounds like a great year ahead.

CYNTHIA:  Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me. I had a great time answering the questions!

SFCatty:  Thanks for agreeing to the interview.  I know you are under a deadline and you are too kind to take the time to chat with me and your readers.

We hope you all enjoyed the interview with Cynthia.  Check out her books.  They are wonderful reads.   I’ll be back on Saturday with a new bad boy for the weekend.  I think you’ll like him.  He has some paranormal qualities.  He can’t die.   Intrigued??  Tune in on Saturday.

EDITED TO ADD:  If you want to meet Cynthia and a plethora of other writers join us at the beach  for the Silken Sands Writer’s conference in March.   http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands/        I have it on good authority that autographed books will  be available!  

Also Romancemama will post your WETSDAY fix later in the week so this interview can stay up.

Sex Sales, Yes or No???

Hello everyone! Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted and I’m ashamed to admit that! But on a positive note, I have many good reasons to why I haven’t been able to post.  My recent absence was caused because I received a few requests for two of my manuscripts. After I got those three requests done I sent out “feelers” to other publishing houses. All I can say is WOW!

In the last two weeks I’ve sent my erotic romance to Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Loose ID, Kensington, and Scarlet Rose. Today I am proud to say that each publishing house has either a partial or full of Ride Em’ Cowgirl which is the first of my three book series entitle “Built Cowgirl Tough”.

So after querying three manuscripts which ranged from romantic suspense to paranormal suspense I’m finally starting to see success with my writing. Does this mean everything before this book was junk or simply that sex sales? Tell me your opinions?

Happy Holidays to everyone and I had a fantastic time at the party.

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