“The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.” ~Samuel Johnson

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This week I’m continuing my summary of publisher spotlights from the Romance Writers of American convention in San Antonio, with a focus on BelleBooks. The spotlight on BelleBooks was presented by Editor Brenda Chin and marketing director Danielle Childers. BelleBooks is 15 years old this year. The company was founded by Debra Dixon and Deborah Smith with a group of six women who were all established authors. They wanted to create a publishing house “by authors for authors.” BelleBooks began with a focus on Southern books. Now they publish all types of books. They produce about 150 titles a year in both print and digital format.

They offer a 40% royalty rate for ebooks. They offer authors editorial development, full marketing services, they publish print and ebook simultaneously and also sell sub-rights such as audio and foreign rights.

Deborah Smith primarily acquires women’s fiction and cozy mysteries. Deb Dixon acquires fantasy and paranormal. Dixon is the Editor in Chief of BelleBooks and oversees all imprints.

The primary focus of this workshop was on BelleBooks imprint, ImaJinn Books. ImaJinn was developed by Linda Kichline, who passed away last year. Debra Dixon, a friend of Linda’s, acquired ImaJinn as an imprint of Bell Books. Brenda Chin is the new editor of ImaJinn.

ImaJinn was originally known for paranormal romance. Now it is open to all romance – all types of romance except inspirational romance – contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, sexy, and new adult. Brenda talked about what she looks for as an editor: She wants big stories – high concept, well-plotted and compelling. Nothing over 90,000 words (50,000 to 90,000 words) but not category romance, either. “I want books that guarantee that the reader will feel something – and not boredom.”

Your story must have a hook that will help them sell the story. You need to be able to tell what the story is about in one or two sentences. You also must have characters readers can relate to and want to read about. Finally, you need a strong voice. She recommended authors find their trademark – what is unique about your books that readers will identify with. No matter what you write, make sure that trademark is still there.

Think of your book as a movie. What kind of crowd would it draw? Strive to make it a blockbuster movie.

Brenda prefers to receive a partial over a complete manuscript.  You can find the submission guidelines for ImaJinn here.

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Mystery Writers of America and Minotaur Books have teamed up once again to sponsor their 2015 Best First Crime Novel Competition. Writers over the age of 18 who have never had a novel published (in any genre) may enter the contest. Manuscripts must be 65,000 words or longer and must feature murder or another serious crime at the heart of the story.The winner will receive a publishing contract from Minotaur books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) and a $10,000 advance against royalties. The deadline to enter is December 15, 2014. For more details, go here.

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Look for the new mass market paper edition of The Mountain Between Us on sale at a WalMart near you. With a new cover and a special low price, this is a great way to dive into my popular Eureka, Colorado series. (Think Northern Exposure in the Rocky Mountains.

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As always, feel free to share this information with others. All I ask is that you credit me as the source and provide a link to this blog. If you want to know more about me and my books, check out my websites here or here and like me on Facebook here. 

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