October 2009

” I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.'”  Saul Bellow

This week I’m taking a look at the Spotlight on Dorchester Books from the Romance Writers of America conference in Washington DC.  

Senior Editor Chris Keeslar presented this Spotlight. He has been with Dorchester for 14 years. Dorchester is one of the last independent publishers of mass market fiction. Dorchester publishes all types of fiction-romance, thrillers, westerns, science fiction, fantasy and horrorAlicia Condon, Leah Hultenschmidt and Chris are the three romance editors at Dorchester.

Imprints include Leisure Books and Lovespell. They distribute Hard Case Crime and Wildside Science Fiction and Fantasy but don’t handle editorial for those imprints. They usually release 6 romances a month–3 hsitoricals, 2 paranormal and one that’s something else. Dorchester is a small company, but has wide distribution in all major outlets. They’ll also expanding into all formats of e-books.

Dorchester is very editorial driven. Being a small house, they can act quickly to move into areas that interest them. Instead of doing what marketing tells them to do, the editors can do what they love. “We’re very passionate about what we do,” Chris said.

They try to promote a family atmosphere with authors and editorial. “The authors are the biggest part of what makes Dorchester great…we just get to be lucky enough to buy them.”

Bestselling authors who have been published by Dorchester include Katie McAllister, Nina Bangs Lindsey Sands, Christine Feehan, Cheryl Wilson and many more. But they are always looking for new authors also to add new voices and ideas. They published 12 first-time authors in 2009. Chris judges a lot of contests and says he thinks this is a great way to get your work in front of an editor. He has bought authors who came to his attention through contests — and they weren’t always the contest winners. Currently, Dorchester is involved with a contest with http://www.TextNovel.com

For more information about Dorchester, how to submit to them and their guidelines, visit their website at http://www.dorchesterpub.com, especially their message boards. For example, at the time of the talk you could submit a query through the message boards directly to the editors.

Http://www.romanticreads.net is Leah’s blog about the romance industry and Dorchester. You can also follow them on Twitter.

They publish historicals, time travel, futuristic, paranormal, thriller, romantic suspense, and romantic comedy. Historicals make up 1/3 to ½ their list. They publish medievals, British, westerns, Native American romance, Regency-set historicals. They have done more exotic time periods and settings such as Egypt. He published a book set in 1930s India. But if you’re writing in a less-popular time period, you need a really strong hook. He’s very open to different settings and time periods.

Dorchester was one of the first places to regularly publish paranormal. They publish all kinds of paranormal romance, in tones from light and quirky to dark. They’ve done superhero books and fantasy romance, gothics — a wide variety. He wondered if anyone has a unicorn romance — he might like to see something like that. He really likes fantasy romance.

They seldom publish straight contemporary romance and the don’t publish straight erotica. They do publish “fairly erotic romance”.

“If you’re thinking ‘my book doesn’t fit in any particular slot’ maybe we’re the people you should come to.” But know your audience and who you’re trying to connect with — have a strong hook.

Dorchester now accepts email submissions. Email the complete manuscript and a synopsis of approximately 3-7 pages. Send to submissions@dorchesterpub.com Manuscripts should be 75,000-90,000 words. Response time is 6-8 months. Chris admitted he can take longer. Dorchester accepts both agented and unagented submissions.

If you’re a midlist author published elsewhere, Dorchester would like to see something new from you that you haven’t tried elsewhere.


ePublisher Breathless Press is looking for Valentine’s Day themed stories for a contest. Deadline to enter is December 1 and there is no entry fee. Two winners will receive a publishing contract, a video trailer and a blog tour to promote their work. Enter in the following categories: 

Flirts: under 1,000 words

Temptations: 1,500 – 5,000 words

Novelette: 5,000 – 10,000 words

Novella: 10,000 – 50/60,000 words

Novel: 50/60,000-100,000 words

Send query to: acquisitions @ breathlesspress.com

For more info, go to http://www.breathlesspress.com/valentines


My new release, Her Christmas Wish, will be available from eHarlequin.com beginning November 1 — in stores the first week in December. This heartwarming, humorous love story would make a great stocking stuffer or a treat for yourself in the busy holiday season. Find out more at http://www.cindimyers.com

This week I’m looking at the Spotlight on Ballantine/Bantam Dell from the Romance Writers of America convention in Washington, DC.

The spotlight was presented by Senior Editor Shauna Summers and Senior Editor Kate Collins.

Shauna works on romance, commercial women’s fiction and general commercial fiction.

Kate is in charge of the romance list at Ballantine.

Ballantine/Bantam Dell is an imprint of Random House. Random restructured last year, going from five publishing divisions to three: Knopf/Doubleday, Crown and Random House Publishing Group. Random House Publishing Group (part of Random House, Inc) involves Del Ray, Spectra, Delacort, Bantam Dell, Ballantine, Modern Library, Dial Press and Random House imprints. As Shauna explained, “The way that I like to think of it is that before we were cousins….now we’re like sisters, with even closer cooperation.” The imprints are still separate with separate editorial departments, but they share some internal functions.

Ballantine and Bantam Dell both publish a wide range of romance – contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense and historical romance. Both editors spent some time talking about the authors they publish. You can see their list at http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/

Shauna emphasized that both Ballantine and Bantam Dell are buying right now. They are interested in authors and don’t have certain slots to fill or a particular number of books they publish each month.

Both said several times that they will buy “really good books.” They seemed reluctant to say they wouldn’t want something, not wanting to limit themselves. However, after repeated questions, Kate said she really likes sexy romantic suspense. She’s not a huge fan of Regency historicals or comedy, but she has bought both. YA, fantasy and urban fantasy and steampunk are handled by other divisions of Random House.

They admitted that the current economy has made all publishers pickier. They will look much harder at new submissions, and the editors must be able to really justify a desire to purchase a book. The days of editors buying a book simply because they love it are no more. But they continue to buy both new and established authors.

They do not accept email queries but you may send hardcopy queries. They generally only accept agented manuscripts but will accept unagented queries. They warned that agented work gets first look, so it will take longer to hear back from them if you don’t have an agent.


Charles Griesman has taken over the Associate Editor’s position at Silhouette Books previously held by Diana Ventimiglia. Griesman will be working for Silouette Desire. He previously was an assistant editor for Silhouette Special Edition, and befor that worked for Time Warner.


Karen Woods is putting together a fantasy anthology, with all proceeds going to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. She’s looking for fantasy short stories which deal in some way with the consequences of dishonesty.  5000 to 10,000 words, in all sub-genres of fantasy except erotica or erotic romance.  You can find all the details at http://www.sleepingbeaglebooks.com


Check out my latest books, see upcoming work and link to excerpts at http://www.cindimyers.com





This week, I’m reporting on the Spotlight on Tor Books from the Romance Writers of America’s National Convention.
The Spotlight on Tor was presented by Heather Osborn, Editor, Tor Paranormal Romance. Also with her was Melissa Frain, Assistant Editor.
Tor has been publishing romance for four years. They publish one romance a month, all paranormal romance. They also publish urban fantasy that is not part of the romance line.
Because Tor is primarily a science fiction and fantasy imprint, they like their romances to have a strong paranormal element. They publish all sub-genres: vampires, werewolves, psychics, witches,  fallen angels, futuristics – pretty much anything goes. She loves steampunk. She also loves fantasy romance and space opera type romances. She’d like to see more futuristics set on other planets. She likes everything from humorous to dark. Heather previously worked for Ellora’s Cave, so she’d open to erotic content, though that’s not the focus of Tor’s line.
She’s not a fan of time travel or ghosts. Doesn’t like historical western or Civil War settings. And she doesn’t like Gothics.
Time travel is an iffy genre for paranormal. The paranormal element must be strong in all the time periods – time travel alone is not enough.
They’re okay with stand alone books, series or trilogies.
Melissa is looking “almost exclusively for young adult.” She likes YA urban fantasy and YA romance for older teens, dark and edgier. 65,000 to 85,000 words.
Tor will accept unagented and unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t just query, send the submission. Submission guidelines http://us.macmillan.com/Content.aspx?publisher=torforge&id=255
Include a brief cover letter, a synopsis that includes the beginning, middle and end of the book and the first three chapters. Write Tor Paranormal Romance on the envelope.
In addition to paranormal romance, she’s interested in urban fantasy. She’s open to YA paranormal romance and YA urban fantasy. You may submit YA to Heather, Melissa or to the Tor YA editor, Susan Chang. If the romance is really strong, send to Heather.
Length 75,000 – 100,000 words for romance. Fantasy is much longer.
Check out the covers for my January books:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside, an anthology with Jennifer Greene and Merline Lovelace: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/imageviewer.asp?ean=9780373837397 or http://tinyurl.com/yly4733 
and The Father For Her Son  http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/imageviewer.asp?ean=9780373783571 or http://tinyurl.com/yjtjvt8
Shock Totem publishes dark fantasy and horror short stories. Payment is 5 cents a word. Editors K. Allen Wood, John Boden and Nick Contor are looking for mystery, fantasy, suspense, supernatural and morbid humor with a clear horror element. They’ll accept unpublished stories no longer than 5000 words. Find the guidelines at http://www.shocktotem.com/guidelines.html
I was honored to be invited to participate in the anthology Broken Links, Mended Lives, a short story collection produced by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. You can get your copy here http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Broken-Links-Mended-Lives/Carol-Berg/e/9780976022527/?itm=9 or http://tinyurl.com/q5f79h  
As always, feel free to pass along this newsletter. If any part of it is reproduced or quoted, please give me credit. Anyone can sign up for weekly notices of new blog postings by sending a blank email to CynthiaSterling-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


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