Category Archives: synopsis

Harlequin’s Search for a Killer Voice

Announcing! The Search for a Killer Voice!

This is Katy Lee, and as many of you know, I sold to Love Inspired Suspense on one of their pitch contests. I have since gone on to sell two more books and hopefully many, many more to come. Seeing as I am a “success” with these contests, I can’t help but be a cheerleader for the latest and greatest contest, The Search for the Killer Voice. If you are an Inspirational Romantic Suspense writer, I do hope you will give it a shot and send your first page in.

Now, here are the details:

The Search for a Killer Voice photo

Love Inspired Suspense is on the search for some new superstar authors, and we want you! If you think you’ve got the chops to wow us with your high intensity, fast paced inspirational romantic suspense manuscript, we encourage you to pitch it to us in The Search for a Killer Voice!

For this pitch opportunity, Love Inspired Suspense editors Emily RodmellElizabeth MazerShana AsaroGiselle Regus and Emily Krupin will be on the lookout for fresh talent. We invite you to show us that you’re the total package in these four stages:

1. Voice—Demonstrate that you’ve got the voice to keep readers on the edge of their seats by submitting your first page. Authors who wow us will move on to Stage 2.
2. Plot—Show us that your plotting skills are as strong as your voice by submitting your synopsis. Authors that have an amazing plot and conflict will move on to Stage 3.
3. Substance—Prove that the first page wasn’t a fluke by offering us a bit more of what you got and submitting three chapters. Authors who keep the story racing along will move on to Stage 4.
4. Full package—Convince us you’re the real deal by submitting your full manuscript. The sky’s the limit for these authors. A contract could be within your reach if you bring it all together into a rockin’ Love Inspired Suspense manuscript.

If you make it through, you could be the next contracted author for Love Inspired Suspense. But we won’t leave you to do it all on your own. We’ll be sharing helpful master class blog posts along the way telling you exactly what is required in a “killer” Love Inspired Suspense manuscript. And once we decide who will be getting a synopsis request, each editor will choose a team of authors. So you’ll know exactly who is looking at your book throughout the stages, and you can ask questions on our individual bio threads. Every author who makes it to stage 4 will receive an initial decision (contract, reject or revision request) on their submissions by August 8.

Here’s our timeline: 
ROUND ONE
February 12
 – START WITH A BANG round. Submit the first page of your inspirational romantic suspense manuscript targeted toward Love Inspired Suspense to LISPitch2014@harlequin.ca from today until March 14.
March 14 – All first pages must be in house. Editorial team will review the entries over the next 2 weeks and choose the most exciting voices to move on to the next stage.

ROUND TWO
March 28
 – HOLD ON TIGHT round. Editors will announce which entries will be moving on to the next round. Chosen entries will be selected by the 5 editors to form our teams. The authors on the teams will be invited to submit their synopsis by April 7 to the email box.
April 7 – All synopses must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and choose the ones whose plots back up the potential in their voice to move on to the next stage.

ROUND THREE
April 28
 – REEL US IN round. Editors will review the synopses and announce which authors on our teams will be going to the next round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their first three chapters.
May 8 – All entries of the first three chapters must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and narrow down the ones that maintain the intensity we saw in the first page to move on to the final stage.

ROUND FOUR
May 29
 – SEAL THE DEAL round. Editors will announce which of our team members will be going on to the final round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their complete manuscript. Authors who are not moving on will privately receive personalized feedback. Authors who are moving on will have until June 9 to submit their full manuscripts.
June 9 – All full manuscripts must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team and decide next steps. During the next 60 days, decisions will be made to contract, send a revision letter, or reject each of the stories. All authors who submit full manuscripts will receive notification of our decision within this time frame.

FINAL RESULTS!!
August 8
 – We will announce the results of the pitch in a blog post that wraps up the pitch, shares our thoughts on the highs and lows, highlights any sales and gives stats on the results for the full manuscript submissions.

Sound exciting? If you think you could rock this pitch, get ready to show us your stuff. Read our team bios, the info on formatting guidelines, and the blog on an amazing first page, then start those books. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Love Inspired Suspense. Only one entry per author, please. Deadlines are tight, so keep writing while you’re waiting to hear back. And if your book is complete now, don’t forget to tell us in your email. You never know. We might want to pounce on your killer voice right away.  Ready, set, GO!

Happily Editor After Pitch Session with Harlequin Love Inspired

Hello all, Katy Lee here, with an opportunity I know works. I know it works because it is how I sold my first Harlequin book in last year’s editor pitch session. So believe me when I tell you that if you write inspirational romance, whether contemporary, historical, or suspense (like myself) then you don’t want to wait to sign up and get your name in for an opportunity to pitch. Here are the details–or just go here: http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/1042-Happily-Editor-After

Happily Editor After
A chance to find your manuscript’s perfect editorial match
May 8, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell and Associate Editors Elizabeth Mazer and Shana Smith are looking to fall in love…with your manuscripts. If you think your story will make our hearts pound and palms sweat, then we have a great opportunity for you.

We’re are on the prowl for new authors for Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical, and we’ll listen to your ideas in a new speed dating pitch opportunity called Happily Editor After.

Happily Editor After photo for Facebook final

This opportunity is open to anyone who has never been published with the Love Inspired lines and who doesn’t currently have a full manuscript under consideration with a Love Inspired editor. It only requires that you get a synopsis ready and have a desire to write for the inspirational (Christian) romance market. You’ll have a chance to peruse our online matchmaking profiles and pick the editor who you think would love your story. Then you’ll get to pitch her your idea in one paragraph, and your chosen editor will respond by filling out the following comment card with her first impression of the idea.

Check one:
__I’ll cry if you don’t send me your manuscript (requested full)
__I’d like to get to know your manuscript better (requested proposal)
__I’m not sure if there’s a spark between your manuscript and me, but I’m willing to give it a chance to convince me (requested synopsis)
__There’s just no connection between your manuscript and me (no request, but isn’t it great to know the idea won’t work before you spend time writing it?)

Just like with online dating, polish your pitches and put your best foot forward. Pay attention to our likes and dislikes so you can pick the right match for your manuscript and wow us with your work. Start those manuscripts now so that if you get a request, you can send it in. While full manuscripts aren’t required for the pitch, just like real dating, the more you have to offer, the more interested we’ll be. Please be sure to mention in your pitch how much of the manuscript is completed. A similar pitch session in 2012 resulted in 9 contract offers, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Sign up here: http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/1042-Happily-Editor-After

You can do it! Like I said, I know it works because I was one of those 9! My book, Warning Signs will release October 2013!

Feel free to ask me any questions! I would be glad to help.

Adventures in Query-Land

Hi, there, Scribe fans. Suze here. By now you’ve probably read Sugar’s post from a few days ago about the process she went through over the last year, ultimately culminating in her getting a fab agent and an even fabber three-book deal. (Click here to read it). Since I’m in the same spot she was a year ago, querying and hoping to land an agent and sell my manuscript, I thought I’d give you a run-down on how things are working for me.

Despite the fact that I completed this manuscript a couple of years ago, I was never satisfied with the opening chapters and so I only submitted it a couple of places, and was summarily rejected. After rewriting Chapter One about eight times and tightening up my timeline this past summer, I finally had it where I thought it was marketable. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, fixed them both with the help of colleagues/friends, and finally began the query process in earnest in September. As one of my favorite rerun detectives, Adrian Monk, might say, here’s what happened.

September – Queried seven agents/editors (two of these were requests from a conference). Two requests for partials.

October – Queried three agents. Two requests for fulls. Two form rejections. One rejection on a partial, but a very nice one (bummer! She liked it overall, loved aspects of it, but she just didn’t love it enough).

November – Queried four agents. Felt like I needed to get some energy moving on stagnant requests, so embarked on closet-cleaning and clutter-clearing in an effort to feng shui my writing career. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired results: Received one rejection on a full because she wasn’t representing my genre, but suggested I submit to another agent in the office. Then received one rejection on a partial because she wasn’t representing my genre, but she “loved my voice” and would be interested in a YA or contemporary if I ever wrote one of those. 

December – Queried three digital-first presses. One rejection on a full, but she did have nice things to say. Depressed! I really wanted that one.  One form rejection. Two requests for fulls.

So the three-month tally is:

  • 17 submissions
  • 7 rejections (none of them mean!)
  • 2 partials still out there (not counting the partials that were sent pursuant to agents’ submission guidelines)
  • 2 fulls still out there
  • 6 queries that have not been acted on one way or another

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was reportedly rejected 60 times. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. I’m not in the depths of despair yet!

Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be?

Rejection Confection

So you’ve written a book. Yay! And you’ve edited it until it’s sparkly and shines. Double yay! You spent months pouring your blood, sweat, tears, heart and soul to complete your masterpiece.

Now what?

Some people submit directly to a small press or epublisher. Others take the huge leap into indie publishing. But so many of us search for a literary agent.  And what do all agents require? An awesome query letter.

UGH! I don’t know about you but I find writing queries way harder than writing a book. It’s hard to compress an entire book into a one page letter. If you think that I’m about to give advice on how to write a great query letter you’re sorely mistaken. The only advice I can give is to go find somebody who knows what they are doing and ask them to help you. That’s what I did. Oh and check out QUERY TRACKER. This is the site I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time on researching. It tells you everything you could possibly want to know about an agent. What they represent, whether they are taking queries, who their clients are, how many people have queried them, response times. And if you need a pick me up they’ve even got a section with success stories.

So you picked your agent. You’ve sent your query and are waiting with bated breath and fingers crossed. You check your email fifty-nine times a day like a nut job waiting for those magic words to pop up in the subject line. RE: QUERY.

And more often than not, instead of seeing, “I love it. Of course I’ll represent you and make you a superstar.” You get a rejection. Boy, do they stink and each one is like a little dart of self-doubt directed right at you writing heart.

But rejections are apart of the writing business. And writing is subjective. It’s impossible to please everybody. So expect to be turned down often. There are three types of rejections that are common.

No Response Means No

This is my least favorite of all rejections. I realize that agents are people too and that they get inundated with queries. Yes, I understand that they get busy but so do we. And if we took the time to write a book, research you and submit chapters of our work to you, you could at least have the decency to tell us no. A no, can be a bummer but at least we know. There’s no wondering if they received it, no waiting, no holding out hope for a response. And seriously how hard is it to send a form letter?

The Form Letter 

I’m okay with the form letter. I once got a form rejection four minutes after I sent out a query complete with a synopsis and fifty sample pages, which the agent asked for on their site. Unless they were super speed readers they probably didn’t read my query. But a quick no is always better than a slow no. It’s easy to move on from those.

The Personalized Rejection

This can be a tricky one. I received a very sweet one this week.

Ms. Pope

Thank you for submitting to our agency. There was some excellent prose in your first chapter and I was entertained by your writing, however I will not be able to offer you representation. It’s not your quality of work so much as the tight market and the fact that I only represent a very limited amount of commercial fiction. I truly believe this industry is very subjective and hope you find a home for this project somewhere else.

That was nice. Did it take the sting out of being rejected? A little. But it was still a no.

I’ve also got a rejection that stated my hero was low-class and that real people didn’t act the way I had written them. Ouch. That rejection also caused me to wish that agent never sold another book and that his agency went under. I know. I know. Mean. But writers have feelings because we are people and sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all than to tear apart somebody’s hard work.

On the flip side not everybody is rejected all the time and when that reply comes, asking for more it’s a very nice feeling.

YOUR TURN! Tell me what you think about rejections. Had a nasty one? A sweet one? Are you querying? Have an agent? How did you get yours? Query a publisher? How did that go? Of course any and all comments are welcome.