“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.
Here are my notes, keeping in mind this is what I heard and my interpretation. This panel was geared toward Harlequin Enterprises.
Writing for Worldwide Distribution with Marsha Zinberg, Executive Editor, Harlequin Enterprises and Author Vicki Lewis Thompson
Marsha: A breakdown on what’s popular with readers shows that cowboys, weddings, babies, and Texas remain favorite themes. The Presents line features the power dynamics between a hero and heroine. A new line is coming, HQ Heartwarming with wholesome stories.
Mini-series and connected series are always hits.
Direct to Consumer: No paranormals. Heroines should be focused on home not career.
Overseas: Fantasy and romance are welcome but not paranormal. Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, forbidden love, millionaires, and secret babies are themes that work. The romance should be the focus of the story.
When you, the author, are doing your fact sheet, keep in mind that overseas editors read them so make your universal theme evident right away. The synopsis shouldn’t be overly long or complicated since English may not be their first language.
Topics to avoid: Casinos and gambling, ballroom dancing, post-war traumatic stress disorder.
Medical sells well overseas but not in North America.
Be prolific to create your author franchise.
Time sensitive issues and brand names may date a book so be wary of using these. Ditto for technology and politically correct terms.
Vicki: Know what is selling but don’t always follow trends. Focus what you do well and write often. Be a pro regarding deadlines. Challenge yourself as a writer and take a chance on special projects.
Refilling the creative well implies that you drain your energy when you write. Instead, think of writing as recharging your batteries. The more you write, the more you want to write.
Coming Next: Sharing Concerns with Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP, Global Author Services, HarperCollins