Publishing Historical Novels: Insider Hints

This page is designed as "writers help other writers." Only your contributions keep it going. MOST novelists do not sell several a year, so that one's information is often a year out of date. When you've just finished making a sale, you have a fresh taste of the markets. Everyone would like to hear from you about who's buying what. Then, next year when your newest opus is finished, you can check in here to see what updates may change your marketing efforts, to get you the quickest sale.

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ANCIENT PERIOD: Most romance and general publishers in the USA are saying these are not "commercially reliable," and rejecting the synopsis and three chapters virtually unread. This translates as while the occasional good one sells well, the more usual Bible Stories or S&M (Slave & Master/Mistress) tale sucks wind, and they can't tell the difference. As a result, the whole period seems to have the eefus on it. Chee, haven't they seen the mega-moolah being made by Hercules and Xenia? [10 November 1997] One author's recommendation to everyone who just got cold feet: go ahead and finish the early-period story (good practice!), then put it aside and find a story you can enjoy between 1100 and 1900. Break in with that, and then use the leverage you develop in the more popular periods to sell the early one. The year you publish the pre-written book you can either look very productive, or take a vacation. If you really adore the early ages, write one novel in your favorite period, then one in the "commercially reliable" periods, then an early ages one, then a later one, and when you break the early stuff you will have this great backlog, and be able to start a new fashion.

EARLY PERIOD HISTORICAL ROMANCES: Avon absolutely does not want anything before "the Middle Ages" (dates not given; let's guess 1100, 1200 surely), except for the occasional "Viking" romance. Don't even waste your postage sending three chapters and synopsis. They say the early period does not sell consistently well. Harlequin takes them occasionally. Also try Dorchester's Leisure Books. Your best bet is Kensington/Zebra, where they are very friendly to earlier periods. [29 May 97]

HISTORICAL ROMANCES WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: Berkley announced in November '96 that they were looking for 90K word historical or contemporary romances with a single paranormal element, NOT vampires or time travel, preferably where a "good witch," ghost, spirit, etc. uses magic to help lovers get together. [29 May 97]

(Why is so much of this oriented to historical romances? That's who's talking to us. Write me, baby!)

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