Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

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This week I’m reporting on the Spotlight on Sourcebooks from the Romance Writers of America annual Convention in New York City.

Dominique Raccah, Publisher of Sourcebooks presented the workshop on this publisher. Sourcebooks is largest women-owned book-publishing company in the Country. Based in Chicago, they’ve been around since 1977.  They do print books followed by digital releases. They publish 6-8 mass market romances a month. They publish in a lot of different categories. They began in nonfiction and have expanded to fiction.  They publish children’s, historical novels, women’s fiction and romance. They try a lot of things and if something doesn’t work, they’ll try something else. “We’re fearless.”

 They’re looking for “great stories, fresh ideas, and people who really want to do this for a living.” They have had ten NYT bestsellers in 2011 and a number of USA Today bestselling authors. She talked about the many things a publisher does – cover design, editing, marketing and sales. For instance, at Sourcebooks each book has an average of 17 cover concepts before they choose the final cover.

 Danielle Jackson, lead publicist for Sourcebooks Casablanca (Sourcebooks’ romance imprint) spoke about their marketing efforts. Thirty percent of the company is focused on promotion and marketing. They do digital promotion, newsletters, social networking, review copies, blog tours, giveaways, Twitter and Facebook, postcards, flyers, print ads in RT. They have an author toolkit to help authors with marketing. The Sourcebook authors do a group blog.

Sean Murray, sales director spoke about the sales process at Sourcebooks. They have in-house one-on-one relationships with all the major book retailers, both bookstores and stores such as Target and Walmart. They also have specialty teams for libraries and international markets. They also have 114 regional sales reps to call on regional independents. They have a major meeting of all the sales team twice a year and local groups meet twice  month. They pay for placement in stores. They work directly with major ebook retailers as well.

 Deb Werksman, the Editorial Manager of Casablanca and Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor or Casablance and the YA imprint, Fire  They like to buy multiple books and build author careers. “We know it can take three or four books to build an author’s careers.” They try to help authors build a brand.  The market is very competitive, so it’s important to find a way for books to stand out. They’re looking for authors with a track record, authors with out of print classic backlist for Casablanca Classics, as well as debut authors.

 The editors are looking for a heroine the reader can relate to, a hero she can fall in love with, a world the reader can fall into and a hook the editor can relate to others in two to three sentences. They’re also looking for an author’s career arc and how to build a brand.  They are open to paranormal, historicals prior to 1900 and contemporary romance. They also publish historical fiction, women’s fiction and YA.

 The Fire young adult imprint is looking for books 60,000 to 90,000 words, characters 15 to 19. “Make sure you have that voice for a teen, because you really can’t fake that.” Credible world-building, from dystopian to contemporary high school. A strong marketing hook. Romance is good, but doesn’t have to be the main focus of the story.

 They take agented and unagented submissions. Submission guidelines are on the website. According to Deb “only about one in every 50 submissions actually follows the guidelines.”

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I’m speaking and signing this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Conference. The booksigning on Friday night at the Renaissance Hotel is open to the public, so if you’re in town, feel free to stop by and say hello. And if you’re attending the conference, please say hi!

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. All I ask is that you provide a link to the blog and give me credit as the author. Thank you. Cindi Myers

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