Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”

– Jane Yolen


This week I’m continuing my series on publisher Spotlights from the Romance Writers of America national convention in Atlanta, Georgia, with a look at one of my publishers, Kensington Books.

Adam Zacharias, Director of Special Projects; Alicia Condon and Audrey LaFehr, Editorial Directors and Esi Sogah, Senior Editor presented the Spotlight.

Kensington is the largest family-owned publisher in New York. Adam Zacharias is the third generation of the Zacharias family to work at Kensington. They are large enough to have best-sellers on the NYT and USA Today list every week, but small enough that everyone knows the authors. They publish all genres of fiction in all formats – hard, soft, mass-market and trade paper and digital.  Next year they will celebrate their 40th anniversary. The company was founded in 1974 and they have been publishing romance since the 1970s. They publish all kinds of romance – contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotica, gay and lesbian, African American and women’s fiction.

eKensington is their Digital First imprint, which is especially open to submissions from new authors. This imprint pays not advance, but 25 percent royalties.

Esi Sogah spoke about why books get rejected – number one is the book bores the reader. It doesn’t stand out or grab attention. Sometimes a book gets turned down because they already have something like it on the list or it’s something that has been done a lot lately. The third reason for rejection is writing that is not up to par. The editor, sadly, doesn’t have the time to work with an author who needs a lot of editing and writing help. Another reason books get rejected is when the first three chapters are really well done and polished, but then the rest of the book falls apart.

Kensington is looking for authors who can write more than one book for them.

Editors fall in love with authors who have a great voice, who write well and create a world the reader can escape to. Esi likes “a fun take on a familiar concept.”

Esi is really looking for romantic suspense, mysteries – cozy mysteries, suspense and historical mystery; sexy contemporary romance and contemporary women’s fiction, which they publish in trade paper.

Audrey edits mostly contemporary women’s fiction, contemporary and historical romance, historical fiction, erotica and nonfiction.

Alicia edits every kind of romance, but would love to see some sexy, sports-themed contemporary romances and non-Regency set historical romances. She just bought a historical set in the old South that is not a Civil War book. She would love to see women’s fiction that plays up themes tied to current trends. She just bought a book called “The Divorce Diet.” She would love to see New Adult that has not been previously self-published.

Editors Peter Senftleben and John Scognamiglio would like to see more romantic suspense, both serial killer and women-in jeopardy books, as well as some black-ops type books.

Alica is also acquiring for the digital first line, e-Kensington. She’s interested in books that may not fit a definite niche in print channels – cross-genre stories, etc. “I am always open to being surprised.”

Kensington does promotion for every title, including a lot of online promotion through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. They also do print ads, advanced review copies, book trailers, contests, blog tours and many other types of promotion.

The editors at Kensington accept both agented and unagented submissions, via email. You can find their email addresses on the Kensington website. Send a query with one paragraph about your book, and one paragraph about you, with your publishing history. They like an attachment of a Word document with the first three chapters. The response time varies widely, so don’t hesitate to follow up or even send your submission again.


If you want to check out some of the books Kensington publishes, you might start with my new releases:

The Mountain Between Us, the second book in my Eureka, Colorado series about the residents of the small mountain town of Eureka. It’s holiday time, but tough economic circumstances and an approaching winter storm force everyone to pull together.

Secret Santa is a collection of Christmas-themed novellas from Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Laura Levine and myself. My story, “Room at the Inn” features some of the characters from the Eureka series, but you don’t have to have read the books to enjoy the novella.

Both books are available in paperback and digital formats from your favorite bookseller.   secretsanta


The Journal of Unlikely Cartography is looking for short stories to 5,000 words in all sub-genres that deal with geography, maps and map-making, GPS and all manner of elements related to cartography. Payment is five cents a word and the deadline for submissions is February 14, 2014. Find all the details here.


Alive Now is a devotional magazine looking for devotionals and short stories on the theme of Blessing, for its Sept/Oct. 2104 issue. Submit your story of up to 400 words by the deadline of January 3, 2014. Payment is $35. Get more details here.


As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Please give me credit as the source, and include a link to the blog. Thanks!  Cindi Myers